offensive

2 Things Needed for Success in Coaching Football

Football is undoubtedly the greatest team sport on the planet! As we always preach to new coaches and to our players, it takes every single individual involved in the program to make it successful. From the equipment managers, parents, boosters to the starting QB and the Head Coach.  It takes everybody working together.  It is part of makes this such a great job.  The community that is built around a good football program is something that cannot be replicated in other sports or even other professions.  It is part of the reason we get into this profession. Along with the love of game and the desire to make a difference in the lives of young men.  However, if we want to have longevity in this profession, there several things that you need to be able to do, and traits that you should have.  This article will focus on two of them that I think are vitally important to a long career in this great field of work.  First, is the ability and desire to acquire new knowledge.  Second, is adaptability.

The Ability and Desire to Acquire New Knowledge

This is something that is a good quality to have with any venture in life. You must have the ability to go out and learn as much as possible, as often as possible.  But having the ability is not enough by itself.  You need to have the desire to as well.  Professional development is an ongoing thing.  It never ceases.  It would be highly beneficial for you to go out and learn as much as you can, about as many different systems as you can, both offensively and defensively. Become proficient in many different philosophies. This can help you understand your opponents as well as give you something to use when the time comes.

Remember, nobody has all the answers.  As soon as you get complacent. As soon as you think you know it all.  As soon as you think you’ve learned everything there is to know… that’s when you get beat.  THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEBODY SMARTER.  In one regard or another, there is going to be somebody that knows more than you about something eventually.  Don’t get beat because you got lazy in your own continued education of the sport.  Do your best to mitigate and minimize all chances of not having an answer by always striving to acquire and apply new information, which leads us right into our next trait.

Adaptability

You must have the ability to adapt.  What I mean by that is, you must be able to adapt the program to fit your talent levels. If you have a bunch of tall, lanky and thin bodies for your skill players, lining up and running the isolation 20 times a game might not be the best idea you’ve ever had…  but if that’s all you know, or worse, all you’ve cared to know, you won’t be able to adapt and experience success.  On the other side of that, if you have a bunch of undersized lineman, asking them to zone block and man block in a spread set where they have no edge help… that can be a disaster too.  So, you need to understand a wide range of systems so you can always put your kids in a situation to experience success and build confidence.  Same goes for the defensive side of the ball.  If you have a bunch of DB and LB type bodies on the field, forcing them into a 4 man front isn’t going to help you much.  Play to the strengths of your players.

Now, it is important that you understand that I AM NOT saying that you shouldn’t have a core set of principles that you believe in.  EVERYBODY should and in fact, needs to have that.  You need to have that one system that you believe in.  Having the ability to adapt within the system is even better.  But whatever the system, be it single wing or air raid or triple option, you need to have your “bread and butter”  I’ll use myself as an example.  It is my philosophy that I will always start off with basing out of the wingT.  My number one reason for this, the wingT’s naturally ability to adapt to all different talent levels.  From youth leagues to big leagues.  It uses angles and numbers to make blocking easier.  It gets your backs to the edge effectively regardless of talent level.  It uses 3 backs so you can use smoke and mirrors, ball fakes, and spread the ball around.  It provides success for teams that have little talent, but is great for teams that have a plethora of talent.  You see it in the NFL still, and clearly there is no lack of talent there.  So that is why I base my offense from those principles… but that doesn’t mean I will refuse to get into single back or shot gun to run zone and throw the ball if that’s what it will take to win.  I make it a point to understand as many systems as possible as many of you do as well.

Closing

Learning and Adaptability.  Is it the only two things you need? Of course not, but they can dang sure help you be a more successful coach!  Let me know in the comments or on twitter what are some things that you think are mandatory for long term success??? Give me a follow on twitter here @thecoachvogt and please subscribe with your email so you can be notified anytime a new article drops!   Speaking of learning new things, here are some opportunities to do just that with some informational material written by yours truly.

The Speed-T Offense V2”  “Installing the Wide Zone”  and  “Practical Fitness

Till next time,

Coach Vogt.

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10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being a Head Football Coach!

On March 15, 2018 I walked onto the campus of Freedom High School for my first official day as a Head Football Coach.  That was roughly 6 weeks before the writing of this article.  Both excited and nervous, I still felt I was prepared for the task at hand, as I still do.  As I am sure all of you Head Coaches out there know, as ready as you think you are, there are things that occur that nobody can tell you about.  Even as I write this article, it will be different for new Head Coaches in other places.  So here are 10 things nobody tells you about becoming Head Coach from my perspective.

  1. Hiring a Staff, is not simply hiring a staff
    1. The administration may tell you that you can hire coaches, but there is a lot more to it than that. The red tape is by no means the fault of the admin, but nonetheless it must be dealt with in order to get coaches on staff.  You have county vetting they need to pass.  There needs to be teaching spots that are open or verified as going to be open.  Your prospective staff must be hired as teachers first.  This will be a lot easier if you verify that your coaches are also good teachers.  Finding PE spots is a lot like snipe hunting these days, but find a coach that can teach math or science, and your gold!  My administration might be one of the best, as they have done everything to make sure I am going to able to hire coaches.
  2. The hold overs from the previous staff can be a huge asset
    1. A lot of times a new coach will come in and clean house, or in some cases the house will clean itself out. However, the hold overs from the previous staff that show interest in staying, should be given serious consideration.  They want to stay for a reason, most likely it is because they have a vested interest in the program and its success.  They have already put time, blood, sweat and tears into the kids and the school.  I currently have 2 hold overs from the previous staff.  They have both been tremendous assets.  They know the kids, in one case since these players were 6 years old.  They know the administration, they can tell you how they work and give insight into how to most effectively communicate with them.
  3. The things you say and do become Gospel
    1. As coaches we always try and show good character, honesty and integrity. I was still shocked at the speed of which things I established, said or incorporated got around.  Example: I enacted a weekly grade report program, I announced that this would be happening to the players during our first meeting.  Before I left campus, a dean walked up to me and told me how much he liked the idea of weekly grade checks.  Now if something positive can get around that quickly, imagine if you say or do something that can be seen in a bad light.  You better be sure you are a pillar of character and truth at all times.
  4. The life of your cell phone battery drops tremendously
    1. You will be inundated with phone calls, texts, and emails. Once you put on that whistle you become the contact point for teachers, parents, community members, deans, administration, school staff members, former players, college recruiters, and the list goes on.  Always have an answer for those that contact you, or at the least tell them you will have an answer for them as soon as possible.
  5. You may feel like a politician
    1. Reference 3 and 4. You are now held to a whole new level of accountability.  Everything you do will be scrutinized.  Stand tall and always do what you can to have an answer for people.  You now have to manage a staff, players, and even faculty and admin at times.  The days of saying “that’s a question for the head coach” are gone.  Now, you are the man with all the answers.
  6. Your family becomes more involved than ever before
    1. Family support is always a part of being a coach. As Head Coach however; the amount of support asked of them is immeasurable.  They will be at practices, they will wait up at night, so they can see you.  If your kids are young they will be in your coaches meetings just because they want that extra time with dad.  Becoming Head Coach will be huge adjustment for them.  Take that into consideration as they persevere through a unique transition period.  make sure you create time to spend with them whenever you can, time is something you can never get back and never forget your wife, I wouldn’t be where I am with mine, and I’m sure it is the same for most of us.
  7. Your significant other becomes an nonsalaried secretary
    1. In my short time as Head Coach, I can’t tell you how many times I have asked my wife to take care of a task for me. Can you print this? Can you check on this? Can you call this person back for me while I do this? Do we have a file for this? What is on the agenda this week.  And this goes back to family support. Is it possible to do this job with out the support of family? Perhaps… but I know I never want to find out.  Maybe my situation is unique. All I know is this, without Karly, my life and job get a whole lot more difficult.  I will always try my best to show appreciation and do the same for her.
  8. The players will buy in immediately
    1. Your new players will be eager and ready to work. I was half expecting some stand off or resistance to the me, the new guy coming in. I could not have been more wrong.  They all immediately began to work hard.  From weight room to classroom to field, they have all been improving.  Maybe my message resonated with them, maybe I did a good job reaching them and motivating, or maybe it’s something simpler. Kids are kids.  They want to do good, they want to feel wanted and they want to play football!  If you come in and show that you care about them, and that you want them to be successful, then they will buy in!
  9. You become an administrator
    1. You will be handling much of the same things that administrators handle on a daily basis. You will: check grades, handle behavior issues, correspond with parents, track inventory, set budgets, track eligibility, develop schedules, maintain facilities, and become an authority figure for the all students in the school.
  10. You have eyes and ears everywhere
    1. I recommend everyone do this! I have developed a network of spies to help me keep tabs on the players.  A lot of the time if a player is doing something, I know about it before he is finished doing it.  This isn’t always bad, the good things the players do get reported too, so they can be acknowledge and rewarded!  Step one: get access to a walkie-talkie from the administration.  This gives you immediate communication and Intel in live time across the campus.  Step two: enlist the help of the front office personnel.  I now know every single time a player is late to school.  Step three: send out a faculty wide email list of your current players on the roster so teachers can report to you as well.  Step four: enlist the janitorial staff.  They are the unsung heroes of the school, and they see absolutely everything that goes on with the students, staff, faculty and admin.

CLOSING

Hopefully this gives you some insight into some things that happen when you become a Head Football Coach.  I wouldn’t say any of the items on the list are a negative thing.  Just things to be aware of, utilize and make sure you don’t take for granted. Id like to say a special thank you to Karly Marie Vogt.  I can’t imagine life without you or where I’d be.  I know my time and focus seems to always be on football, but I promise you, that you and our children are always in my heart!

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What’s Your System?

What’s Your System?

During the first, six years of my coaching career I was on the defensive side of the football.  Still to this day as an Offensive Coordinator I develop my offense with a defensive frame of mind.  What I mean by that is my offense is viewed as a system, and not a collection of plays as I feel so many coaches do these days.   Imagine if a defense called plays like most offenses do.  A different front every snap, different stunt or blitz every snap.  Sometimes a different defensive base from week to week.  There is a term used for this kind of defense, “Dial-A-D”, it is not a complimentary term.

You see this from time to time on the defensive side and usually the defensive coordinator is looking for work in the spring.  But on the offensive side it seams this is a regular occurrence.   Teams will bounce around from scheme to scheme within a series and its acceptable, but more often than not, it is not effective.  The offense relies on big plays that are inconsistent and they can not drive the field and score.  I personally find this type of offensive play calling the result of a general lack of knowledge and copy cat syndrome.  What I propose is installing your offense like a defense does.  Install it as system that has an answer for whatever the defense is doing.

STEP 1: SYSTEM SELECTION

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It can be any offense. Zone based, Gap based, WingT, Spread, Option, Multiple I, or any combination.  The idea is to avoid scheme hopping and attack the defense with a systematic approach.  Have an answer for everything the defense does no matter what the play call is.  I suggest selecting what you know and sticking with your guns.  Run it till the coaches and players know it in their sleep. Once you have established your offense then you can trim which I feel may be the most important step.

STEP 2: TRIMMING

Whatever you choose as your offensive route be it spread tempo or the receiver-less single wing set, every offense benefits from trimming the playbook.  Almost universally, when the offense trims the playbook you see an increase in offensive production.  Why does this happen? Your players have to remember less, you get more reps against more fronts due to more time being spent on fewer plays, players become confident in knowing what to do because of more reps.  When players know what to do they play faster, that is a well proven fact.

Ill use my team as an example, we have 4 plays.  We will throw some change ups in sometimes if we want to show something new and shiny on film, but we base out of 4, that’s it.  Sometimes I feel this is too much and think about going to 2 or 3 plays.  My number one play is the widezone, I have my reasons for this but for purpose of the article I’ll avoid getting into that. I mention it to bring up the point that every play needs to have a companion play that places the defense in a bind, if they overplay widezone we hit them with powerO.  My number 2 play is the blast (a modified toss) the companion for this one is bellyG.  The plays you select are up to you, just make sure you have a companion for each.  Sometimes, like I said, 4 can be a little much.  Lots of teams in NCAA and NFL football use 1 and 2!  A team out of Orlando, FL has routinely pummeled everyone they play with only these 3: jet sweep, bellyG and counterGT.  All 3 companion off each other!  A great system. The point is by running a limited number of plays to perfection, the offense can incorporate all 11 players to handle the defense no matter how they line up.

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STEP 3: ESTABLISHING WHAT YOU WANT TO DO

What are you trying to do to the defense? This question needs to have a clear answer before you take the field Friday night.  Are you going to tempo them to keep them on their heels? Are you going to formation them?  What are you going to do with your formations?  Having lots of formations is pointless unless you have a system or purpose for them.  Are you getting in spread to run the ball in the middle?  Just because you line up in 4 wide doesn’t mean the defense will empty the box.  Your system better have an answer for this.  While I’m not a huge fan of the spread, the guys you run it have come with lots of ingenious ways to combine base play and companion play into one package.  One example is inside zone and bubble screen.

As I said previously we have over 100 formations.  The purpose is to outflank the defense.  Get more numbers than they have where we can get easy yards. The secondary purpose is to place the secondary in to assignment binds by forcing them to play run gaps.  Now they have to worry about fitting on run and covering for pass.  If the defense can manage to line up to our formations our system can still handle the front because our players know exactly what to do.

WHAT TO AVOID

  • Becoming too scheme heavy.
    • This makes you fundamentally unsound
  • Illogical progressions
    • Switching from scheme to scheme cuts down on practice time
    • Having too many concepts causes linemen to become tentative
      • They start thinking
      • Doubting their assignment (paralysis by analysis)

WHAT TO ESTABLISH

  • A “base”
    • Use a base offense each week
  • Tempo
    • Control the tempo of the game
    • Can go fast or go slow. I suggest what I call strategic tempo
      • Only tempo when you know you have the defense on heels or in a misalignment
      • Going fast for the sake of fast leads to 3-N-Out in 7 seconds
      • Most importantly keep the other offense off the field
    • Expand & Contract
      • Compress and spread the defense with tight, open and unbalanced sets to cause misalignments
      • Place stress on the defense with shifts, motions and trades
    • Adjustments
      • Adjust with formations, tempo or window dressings, not countless new schemes and plays

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Alex Gibbs and the Widezone

A Point to Start From

It was a long bus ride home after a season opener back in 2012.  I was a defensive coach at the time and we just got beat by team that on paper had no business beating us, and they beat us soundly.  They didn’t have as many athletes as us, they were slower than us and they were smaller than us.  I distinctly remember watching them on film thinking we should handle them pretty easily.  I also remember thinking, “man, prepping for these guys is going to be so easy, they literally only run one play!”  Unfortunately for us, that play was Widezone.

I remember watching this stubby looking running back that maybe ran a 4.9 just chew us up 4 to 5 yards at a time, QB would hit us with a naked for bigger play every so on.  A bunch of 5 foot 10 maybe 200 pound lineman wash my defensive linemen sideways all night.  I remember my head coach’s choice words with the performance of defensive line at half, and I remember the frustration I felt at not having an answer to give him or my players for why we couldn’t make any plays.

It was during this particular bus ride home that I made the decision that I needed to find out what this play was and that I would feature it when the time came for me to dictate that decision.  Look around message boards and online there wasn’t much to find on it.  I just kept searching “zone runs” and came up with a lot of inside zone stuff and outside zone that didn’t quite look like what I saw that night.  I studied their game against us to compare with what I was looking for online.  I tell this story to give background information on why I feel so strongly about this play.

Eventually a name popped up on the messages boards. Alex Gibbs.  I immediately popped his name into google and the first series of clinic notes and videos I came across changed my offensive philosophy forever.

Alex Gibbs, is not the inventor of the Widezone, he is however the person who made it into the play it is today.  Now it is the base play of almost every NFL team and a lot of NCAA football teams. This series of videos I will review is Alex Gibbs breaking down the Widezone with staff from the University of Florida and is in my opinion the absolute best reference point for installing the play that you can find.

Parts 1 and 2: some very good stuff here.  Gibbs breaks down his rules and techniques used to make the Widezone go.

Parts 3 and 4: Gibbs gets into film of the Atlanta Falcons running the play and further discusses rules and techniques

Parts 5 and 6: Gibbs breaks down UFs film and discusses how they can incorporate the Widezone

Parts 7 and 8 combined: Gibbs gets back into his film for some play action and back on the boards for some Widezone lead and inside zone stuff

This was the resource that I started with when installing the Widezone as my base offensive play.  This is one of the best clinics I have ever watched, including ones I’ve been to in person.  Feel free to comment below. Subscribe to my email list to receive updates for new posts.  Give me a follow @thecoachvogt and check out my previous articles “personnel grouping the offensive line” and “the most versatile defense”