The following information represents how several different successful football programs from around the country prepare each week for their next upcoming football game.
Weekly In-season Preparation (School #1)
With the introduction of Hudl and other scouting programs we do not have to drive anywhere early Sunday morning to exchange tape with the opposing coaching staff. We also do not have to spend hours and hours on Sunday breaking down film when we could be spending time with our families and break film down in the comfort of our own homes. I like breaking down the last two games played by our opponent. Once we receive the film on Hudl either later Saturday or the first thing Sunday morning we start breaking down film.
All six of the varsity coaches has a job. Our line coach will input the down, distance, hash and OKD (offense, kicking, defense). Once this information is inputted our offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach will look at what base defense the opponent likes to run. He will then look at how they adjust to our formations. He will look at any blitzing tendencies on specific downs. He looks at coverages and any other defense they may run in special situations, i.e.… short yardage or passing downs. He will always try to find the “bubble” and the “fish”. The “bubble” is any opening on the defensive line. What are they giving us? The “fish” is any player who may be weak on the defensive line. Someone we may run at often. On top of all that he looks at personnel. Who is making all the tackles? Who is their best defensive lineman? Who is their best cover man?
Once all the information is programmed into Hudl the offensive coordinator will print out a report on the opponent’s tendencies along with some cut ups.
On the defensive side the secondary coach and I look at the opponent’s offense. We plug in all their formations, pass plays and run plays. The program will keep track of positive and negative yardage on a play and where the drive starts and ends. Once we plug in all the information the program will spit out a report of our choice. I like to look at what is their favorite formation with their three favorite plays out of it. I pay attention to their overall three favorite run plays and their three favorite pass plays. Once I find these out I will draw up our defense to try and stop these plays. Let them beat us with something else. Besides favorite formations and plays I look at personnel. Who are their go to backs? How effective is their quarterback? Can he beat us with his arm? His legs? Both? Do their receivers block well and run good routes? Who can we blitz against on the offensive line?
Along with personnel we look at special or trick plays if they have any. Our special teams coach looks at all special team’s formations and types of kick. Do they kick from a hash? Does their kicker kick it into the end zone? Where could we return the ball? What type of punt do they run? Rugby or standard? What are their fakes? Any special extra point plays we need to be aware of? We look to exploit any weaknesses they may have on their special teams. He will also draw up formations of our opponents specials and come up with a way to defend them or take advantage of a weakness.
Besides watching film we try to scout the game in person if we could. If we are not getting that tape we will film the game and upload it onto Hudl to break down. Sometimes we may need to break down more than two games. When we get to a game I like standing close enough to the players as they walk onto the field to get an idea of how big or small they are. Some players play bigger or smaller on film.
Once we are done with all the breakdown on Sunday or Monday morning we put all the information into a scouting report to give to the players electronically. I have spent hours making photocopies to just find them sitting on the locker room floor. We will quiz the players on what we see on film about our opponent. We want them to study them and know them well. Just by paying attention to their plays they may tip off if their line is pulling by seeing a lineman in a different stance. A back may be closer to the line on a lead play or the quarterback may change his stance in a pass or run situation. We try to pick up any little thing that might give us any advantage.
On Monday afternoon we introduce the opponents scouting report after our lifting session and then take it out onto the field. We go over the opponents favorite formations and plays on offense and then go over their base defensive fronts and coverages. On Monday night we meet as a staff to go over the practice plan for the week and the coordinators draw up the scout cards.
Tuesday through Friday we implement the opponent’s offense, defense and special teams along with important personnel. As the week goes on we see what we like or don’t like and make small adjustments until we are ready. The coordinators will make up their depth charts and call sheets throughout the week and have them ready by Friday night. Saturday morning when we meet with the players we go over the report one more time just to make sure we are all ready to go.
Weekly In-season Preparation (School #2)
Friday – After the game both copies (Wide and End zone Tight) are put into HUDL along with the data from tag a game. An assistant coach does this immediately upon our bus returning or right after the game at home. When I get home I complete the game film by matching up the angles and data, usually by midnight. Many of the assistant coaches are watching the game as it is uploaded.
Saturday – We meet offensively and defensively at 6:30 AM to review and analyze game film together. Players who need to see the trainer arrive between 7-8 AM and all players arrive for an 8 AM team meeting and special teams film review (20-30 minutes). At approximately 8:30 the JV players are released to warm-up for a home JV game, if on the road the leave around 8:15 AM and do not watch the special teams film. The varsity players watch the game film with the offensive and defensive coaches until 9:30 AM. The players then work with a YOGA instructor for a 40-minute workout while the coaches complete all game exchanges and begin preparation on the upcoming opponent. The varsity players are dismissed after watching the JV game if it is a home game, if it is a road game they are dismissed after YOGA, around 10:15 AM. Our Sophomore team has a similar Saturday with weight training in place of YOGA and our Freshman A and B teams have 9 and 11 AM games. The varsity staff finalizes which scout film we will mark over the weekend as homework and are dismissed, usually around 11:30 AM. Coaches work independently at home on the scout film and scouting reports, communicating via email prior to our Sunday Night Game Planning meeting. Each assistant coach has data to enter on the scout film: D/D, yard line, hash, formation, motion, play, result, front, stunts, blitzes, coverage are split up among the coaches.
Sunday – On Sunday night we meet at 6:30 PM until about 9 PM. This allows our coaches to get away from the game some, spend quality time with their families on Saturday as well as Sunday. The 6:30 start allows the coaches to have dinner with their families and also arrive before bed time for their children. On Sunday night we meet first as a staff and review the game statistics and receive an injury report from our athletic trainer. We discuss the depth chart and any changes for all 3 phases of the game. We complete the practice plans for the week and discuss game day travel times if necessary. We talk about the offensive and defensive game plans and then split up by offensive and defensive staff to finalize the game plan and review scout film. Scout film and game plans are shared with the players on HUDL.
Monday – The offensive and defensive coordinators and coaches meet with the players after school in the classroom and communicate the game plan to the players and watch scout game film. Practice in full pads.
Weekly In-season Preparation (School #3)
Game planning truly begins in the off-season and carries into the pre-season with film coding and breakdown. Before the season begins the coaching staff should have a general understanding of the makeup of their league or conference especially at the HS level where teams often have similar offensive and defensive schemes. It is important that similarities and general opponent tendencies are identified to properly prepare the pre-season install.
On a weekly basis, responsibilities and meeting times are structured in the following ways:
Friday Night (Post Game): Position Coaches watch and critique position players preparing for a more thorough breakdown and grading of the previous games performance. Head Coach and Coordinators do the same, but should immediately begin examining the next opponent for general information about offensive and defensive scheme.
Saturday: Position coaches, on their own time, grade previous game’s performances and identify points of emphasis for the following week. Specific coaches are tasked with coding film of the upcoming opponent. Often we focus only on the film that includes opponents who run similar offensive and defensive schemes as our own to maximize efficiency in film breakdown. It is the duty of the Head Coach and Coordinators to examine as much film as possible, regardless of scheme to see if there are any wrinkles/adjustments we would want to implement that other teams have had success with.
Sunday: All Varsity coaches meetings, open to any lower level coaches who wish to attend, to discuss the previous week’s pluses and minuses, personnel decisions based on previous weeks performance, upcoming opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and possible game plan adjustments for the week. Position coaches are expected to have grades from the previous week’s performances to discuss personnel, as well as have an understanding based on film study of the next opponent. All coaches are encouraged to bring suggestions to the table in regards to positional points of emphasis, schematic adjustments they feel will be beneficial for their position group and thus the success of the team, and have drills ready to address the points of emphasis throughout the upcoming week. All coaches meet and discuss both sides of the ball, as often times a defensive coaches perspective on offensive adjustments can be vital in deciding the expected success of the adjustment and vice-versa. While it is the job of the coordinators to make the final decision on schematic game plan and personnel decisions, every coach has the right to voice an opinion and open a line of communication that should ultimately lead to the best plan of action. Before Sunday meetings are done each coach should have their weekly plans in place, ready for adjustment at any point, and the general game plan should be in place for practice the rest of the week. Monday: Film time with the team is used to cover the strengths and weaknesses of the previous week’s game and discuss the current week’s points of emphasis for each position group. Once that has been covered, the previous week is put behind the team and we move our focus to the upcoming opponent. Film is used to discuss the opponent’s offensive and defensive schemes and tendencies, identify personnel that will be a focus of the week to stop, and to cover any planned adjustments to scheme or personnel for the week. This time is VERY important for keeping an open line of communication with the players and helping them understand why the game plan is the way it is and how we intend to achieve success with the game plan.
Monday-Thursday: Daily coach’s meetings before and after practice are important for discussion about the adjustments that are being implemented, how successful they look to be and what can be removed for the week, as well as keep up with personnel decisions (obviously influenced by a number of factors such as health, academics, performance, etc.). These meetings are meant to sustain an open dialogue about the success of the team and keep everyone on the same page heading into the upcoming game. As always, every coach is expected and encouraged to present questions, concerns and ideas that can be debated to reach a positive outcome.