The Following information is how some teams from around the country game plan for their next opponent.
Our game-planning begins in the summer as we gather as much film as we can about our opponents and view it. From a defensive perspective, I look for a few things and trying to get a feel for the overall philosophy of the other team’s approach, their base, tempo, substitution patterns, blocking schemes, etc. An example is an opponent this year that combines inside zone with a bubble check, what triggers it for them? I don’t get into much more than that unless it is our first game. We’ll find that teams will change enough through personnel shakeups that new information is much more relevant.
Our video guys will tag previous games before Thursday of the week preceding our game and update the newest as soon as we get it, usually Saturday with Hudl ability. They will tag our game first for self-scouting. Especially in the coming year, as we will start around eleven freshmen on defense and offense, we will be spending a ton of time on corrections. That will take us through Sunday, when our kids come in to review.
Offensively, we get started dissecting the next game earlier than D, when the staff will begin breaking down the next opponent on Sunday evening. Defensive tendencies is what we look for in sets, and down and distance. We’ll try to figure their approach to the field vs. the short side and the way the defense will set to our off-set back. Do they stem? Stunt? Blitz philosophy. How they cover trips is a big one for us.
Defensively, Sunday evening is for general observations. As DC, I like to watch the complete game to get a feel for the approach, like the summer. By the time I get to actually breaking the game down to tendencies, I already have a feel for it. Our secondary coach looks for favorite pass plays, pass keys from the QB, keys from splits and sets, motions and such. Our line coach will look for stance, split tendencies, combo techniques, pass pro schemes.
On Monday when the kids are off, the staff brings in together in the morning with our base approach. Offensively, they will build on it through Tuesday when the game-plan is 90% set. Defensively, we will have our base alignments set on Tuesday and work it in practice that day. On this day, I really want to make sure we get lined up right.
Wednesday, will be for stunt and blitz implementation as we focus on down and distance and how to get the opponent off schedule into third and long. I really want to have a grasp of down and distance w/ set tendencies, i.e., what does our opponent like to do on 1st and ten on of their 11 personnel and sets.
After practice on Wednesday, we will be 90% complete, with short yardage and a blitz review on Thursday. We will make sure that our special team personnel is set for their substituting. After that, we will not divert much. Even if we had an unexpected injury to a key player, we would follow our plan. New adjustments within two days of game-day are usually a bad idea. Players need time to absorb and contrary tactics won’t gel.
Our concept of a game plan is to know ourselves and know our opponent.
My approach to the game of football is quite simple. I believe that everything begins and ends with culture. If you can create a great culture where kids want to compete and push themselves to be better, than the program will find success in many different way, not just on the field. The culture of the team has to demand a lot from the players, but also needs to guarantee that they are having fun and enjoying their time on the field. Football is the ultimate team game and can teach life lessons that no other game can. Providing the environment where kids want to come to work hard will help them grow into the type of people that will be able to contribute to society when they are adults.
My assistant coaches need to be all in, they need to buy-in to what we are trying to create, and their opinions need to be valued and respected. I expect the assistant coaches to be the lifeblood of the team. They are the ones who do the “dirty work” scouting and throughout the course of the week preparing for game day. Assistant coaches must present a united front and always have each other’s back while on the job.
Offensively and defensively we are going to play at a tempo and with an energy that will be difficult to match. We use schemes that require complete buy-in from our players and will rely on the execution of our players to be successful. We will be the most aggressive offense, defense, and special teams in the league. That will be part of our identify and teams will know what they are in for before they even step foot on the field. The smallest details of technique and scheme will separate us from our opponents.
Creating a great culture requires great leaders. Developing great leaders requires spending time and energy to help student-athletes learn how to be good leaders. The return on investment of teaching the kids to lead is undeniable and can be the difference between a successful program and an average one.
The most important part of the off-season program is that of the strength and conditioning program. The off-season and summer programs helps athletes come together and gives them a performance edge. Spending time together during the summer gives athletes a unique opportunity to bond with one another. It also gives a great opportunity to grow as athletes and as teammates.
The main portion of our work comes from our film breakdown. We use the film breakdown software known as hudl. It is extremely efficient and a great way to exchange film with other coaches. It allows us to breakdown our films using a wide variety of data fields and gives us a great insight into our opponents’ tendencies.
Throughout the week we have our assistant coaches begin the breakdown for our next week’s opponent. They are responsible for going into any film that we already have and breaking down the film with the following information: Down, distance, Hash, Play type and Result. By doing this work before the weekend it shortens the weekend work for the coordinators.
After Friday’s game, one assistant is responsible for uploading the new film we just got in our weekly film exchange (if we did not exchange via Hudl). That coach is then responsible for doing the basic breakdown on the new films before Saturday afternoon. After meeting with the kids and watching the previous games film we use all day Saturday and Sunday morning as individual time as coaches.
All assistants are expected to watch film thinking specifically about their position players during this time. They watch for specific tendencies and visual clues their players can use throughout the week. They also need to think about their positions specific keys and reads. Finally, they need to come to the Sunday staff meeting with some ideas for what they think the general game plan will look like.
The coordinators use the weekend to do the rest of the breakdown (formation specifics, play specifics, blitz specifics, etc.) After completing the breakdown and watching the film the coordinators need to establish a game plan for the week. This is not the finalized plan but should be well thought out and close to what they anticipate us doing. The coordinator should not come to the Sunday meeting without already having a plan. During this time coordinators may call assistants to get their thoughts on the game plan in relation to their position players.
On Sundays at 1:00 the coaches will meet for the coaches meeting. The coordinators need to have copies of all the breakdown data for the coaches to look at during the meeting. We begin as a whole staff discussing any personnel issues, injuries, or key things from the previous game. From there the coaches come together and both coordinators present their plan for the week. The assistant coaches share their thoughts and together the staff tweaks and finalizes the plan. The coordinators have the final say in any decisions that need to be made. To end the meeting, we talk through practice plans for the week, making sure all the coaches are on the same page for practice.
Our goal with any game plan is to have enough in the package to be successful but also the right amount so the kids feel comfortable as well. Throughout the week we evaluate and change the game plan to make sure we achieve both of these things. All coaches are involved in these conversations as well as the players themselves. We begin with a larger package and narrow things as the week goes on. As the week progresses, the game plan should evolve into a clear and concise plan that the kids can execute. Execution is the key, and our final game plan should reflect that.
Saturdays we meet as a staff to grade the previous night’s film. We grade players on a plus/minus system and shoot for at least 80% success rate positionally. We leave notes and grade them out through HUDL Messages. Then we break down the upcoming opponent. I like to watch with the entire staff like we did 20 years ago, I feel like that’s where some of the best ideas come from. Defensively our staff identifies offensive formations (DC), blocking schemes (DL Coach), Routes and Backfield Actions (Secondary Coaches), top 5 plays, down tendencies, field tendencies and weaknesses along the formation. Offensive staff identifies fronts, movements and blitzes (RB Coach and OL Coach), coverages (WR Coach), down tendencies, field tendencies, and soft spots (OC). We then work our holy 7 play groups into the scheme, install on HUDL, and share with the team. We identify any out of the ordinary special teams looks if any, and adjust practice time accordingly.
Mondays we watch film with the players from Friday, and the opponent’s scout film. We then look at our install on HUDL and discuss main ideas. After that, we get out on the field for walk throughs, set rec, etc.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are split practices, 50 minutes each for offense and defense, and roughly 20 for special teams depending on the opponent. Tuesdays are usually fundamental days, with some small group sessions like set recs and run fits on defense, and blocking scheme fits on offense. Wednesday we go more team, with situational sessions.
Thursdays we do a walk through to check for understanding. This is also a big day for personnel groupings, special teams transitions, and working out any kinks.
Friday we have an itinerary that consists of a team meal (home) or snack (away) where we discuss character and/or mentality, a walk through two hours before the game, then pre-game warm-ups and walk through starting one hour before kickoff.
I am fortunate enough to be able to have a semi-retired guy serve as my equipment/operations/fundraiser help/ etc assistant. He monitors the locker room, oversees the managers, makes arrangements for meals, and so on. He helps me with all operational facets of coaching. I highly recommend you get one!