I want to discuss some fine points we, as a staff and team, focused on when facing the Double Wing.
1. Our first priority, like usual, was aligning properly. The weeks prior to our match-up with the DW opponent, they revealed a number of interesting formations and change ups to their foot-to-foot, traditional 2-TE, 2-Wing look. They came out in the “Beast” package a few times (we’ll get into that later) and various spread formations. They had little success utilizing those formations in the preseason, but it was still important that we be able to line up and defend their favorite plays out of those formations.
An important point I have to make is this: do not do anything drastic to stop ANY particular offense. If you’re a 4-3 team, don’t all of a sudden become a 3-4 team, and vice versa. Be you. You will only slow your players down, which is the equivalent of kryptonite to Superman.
We stayed in our 3-4 look. 5-0-5 up front. We played 2 9-techniques, but in our 3-4, those 9-techs are outside linebackers. What we did was put our two strongest defensive linemen there. Here’s why:
2. Stop…errrr…contain “POWER.” This is the “their” play. It’s arguably one of the best plays in all of football. They ran it a total of 31 times against us. In my research of the Double Wing, I heard about the famous “Power Hour” where DW teams will run Power and only Power against 11-22 defenders. They want their players to believe in it. They want their players to feel confident in it. They want their players to believe that the only way to stop it is to play with extra players on defense. Don’t always spill power, don’t always contain power. We didn’t blitz at all, but we did change up what our 9-techs were doing.
They did not gain more than 8 yards on a single Power running play against us, but…
3. …be prepared to play 4 downs on every possession…regardless of field position. If it’s 4th and one from their own 20, they’re going for it. Therefore,
4. You must win 1st down! This is our philosophy against any opponent, but it’s particularly important against running teams, such as those that utilize the Double Wing, Wing-T, etc. However,
5. your secondary must be pass first, run support players second. We gave up 21 points as a defense. 7 came with 30 seconds left in the game on 3rd and 21 from their own 40 yard line. Granted, we did miss 3 tackles on the game winning (losing?) touchdown, but we bit on playaction. Discipline is key all the way around. We got a heavy dose of Power and Power Pass sprinkled in. They completed 3 out of their 12 passes: 2 short (less than 10 yards) and the one bomb that won the game.
6. We were easily (EASILY) the physically superior team. Your entire team must be in-sync when playing a DW team. We gave up a touchdown on a punt return. Our offense ran 12 offensive plays in 3 possessions in the first half. The time of possession numbers were 3-1 in their favor.
These are some factors that you must be ready for. 3 and outs will not help you against any one, but particularly against an opponent whose philosophy is serious ball control.
In all my years participating in, watching, and coaching football, I’ve been attracted to the way great offensive coordinators and offensive systems dismantle terrific, disciplined defenses. Paul Johnson outfoxing Bud Foster. Chip Kelly outmaneuvering Pete Carroll. By the way, those two defensive coordinators are my heroes in coaching.
Like most defensive coordinators, I relish the opportunity to face great competition. In my young career, I’ve seen and faced just about every offensive system imaginable from Spread Option, Split Back Veer, Wing-T, Double Wing, Air Raid, Run-n-Shoot, the list goes on. Each one of these offenses pose such unique challenges that you have to be willing to adapt and tweak your scheme to fit your personnel and game planning needs. [Ed. – notice how I say tweak your scheme – more on that in a later post]
One of my proudest coaching moments was facing Tom Smythe and his Run-n-Shoot offense and actually beating him the second time around. It wasn’t only the honor to go toe-to-toe with this legend that made the event memorable, but it was great seeing our defense execute our plan to perfection.
An eye-opening experience for me was facing the Double Wing this season. A new coach moved into the area from Las Vegas where he had tremendous success running this offense. When I found out about the hire and read up on his credentials, I immediately began researching the Double Wing. I bought books, snuck into DW clinics, read countless articles, posed as a DW coach to get information from other DW coaches…these guys act like they went to a Tony Franklin clinic with the secretive way in which they act.
I did everything I could to prepare my players for the offense they would face. Going into that prep week and watching film, I was really impressed by what I saw from my next opponent. They were not athletic, big, or strong, but they were disciplined and obviously believed in their system. I had read about Power Hour where the offense would run their “super power” play for an hour straight. And how they would put 15 guys on the scout defense to build confidence in this one play. I loved it! As a former Marine, you train for the worst possible scenarios, and this was it! They ended up running the “power” play over 30 times.
We would end up losing that game on a PASS in the waning moments, but I will never forget the number one lesson I learned from that game: you do not win with just great offense, defense, or special teams…all those aspects of the game must come together. It did not come together for us that night and it was an experience I will never forget.
I grew up in the home of a Marine. At the age of seventeen, I became a Marine. I have been around the Corps my whole life, and only now that I am in my current profession of teacher/coach has it not been a part of my every day life. It has helped forge who I am today, how I teach and coach (Barney-style), how I walk, and how I talk. Many people are defined by what they do (work) as opposed to what they do (action), but the two should not have to work exclusively from the other. With that in mind, I have adapted Zell Miller’s Corps Values.
OUR PROGRAM’S MISSION
To forge disciplined student/athletes by developing these Core Values (adapted from Zell Miller’s Corps Values):
Honor: Honor requires each student/athlete to exemplify the ultimate standard in ethical and moral conduct. Doing so requires sacrifice. Our student/athletes must never lie, never cheat, never steal, but that is not enough. Much more is required. Each student/athlete must cling to an uncompromising code of personal integrity, accountable for his actions and hold others accountable for theirs. Honor requires that our student/athletes never tarnish the reputation of our program, our school, our community, and themselves.
Courage: Simply stated, courage is honor in action – and more. Courage is moral strength and the will to do what is right regardless of what others around them may do. It is mental and physical discipline. Courage means a willingness to take a stand for what is right in spite of what others may think. This courage will allow each one of our student/athletes to look in the mirror and be proud of the reflection they see.
Commitment: Total dedication to our school, community, and program. “All for one, one for all.” By whatever name or cliche, commitment is a combination of (1) selfless determination and (2) a relentless dedication to excellence. We never give up, never give in, and never willingly accept second best. Excellence is always the goal.
These were words we were required to remember as Marines. I know many good men who were unable to uphold these Values, but at least it gave us something to shoot for. These values were not only applicable to combat, but to the way we carry ourselves whererver we go and in whatever situation we are presented. These words have resounded so deeply within me that I have adopted as my life philosophy. I may never achieve every tenet set forth in those words, but I sure as hell will try.
As I sit in coaching “free agency,” I have been given the opportunity to reflect on the last few years and how my views toward coaching and teaching have evolved. I am no expert in any particular scheme or style of play, but one thing that I have come to understand and embrace is the need for all coaches to have a philosophy in the way they teach and coach their scheme or style of play. The world of football is very small – there are only a handful of places outside of the United States where the game is played – and the internet has made that world even smaller. Blogs like Smart Football, message boards like Coach Huey, and during the season, 5 days a week worth of football allow us to acquire, steal, and copy what we want and need and then adapt what we see or hear to our own situations.
But before getting into the scheme and technique aspects of football, which we all love, it is important to understand that we must all hang our hat on something. That something must help our programs succeed when the talent isn’t there or allow us to succeed when the scheme and techniques we have taught throughout the week aren’t working on gameday. That thing is what I call “Core Values.”
You must find what your values are and allow those values to permeate throughout your entire organization. Some of us live in constant chaos and are able to establish order through chaos (Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol, anyone? ). Some of us are able to fly by the seat of our pants. However, like the great Bill Walsh says in The Score Takes Care of Itself, what happens when someone pulls your pants down? Will you be ready? More importantly, will your coaching staff and kids be?
Establishing your “Core Values” takes patience and reflection. My state of currently having no polis (Greek word for “city” – in my case, “program”), has forced me to reflect on what I have been taught and what I have learned over these last few formidable years in my career. It has also forced me to reflect on my upbringing in the home of a Marine father and immigrant mother, my travels around the world as a child, and my own adventures as a Marine. Like any good football coach, I have acquired, stolen, and copied from those I’ve learned from and the places I’ve been to establish “Core Values” that I believe in and will use as the foundation for the next step in my career.