Friday, January 27, 2012

Book Review: Complete Linebacking

Sometimes I forget just how much better (and cheaper!) books are than DVDs. Although it helps to see live video of drills, Complete Linebacking by Lou Tepper is the most in-depth look at a position I've ever seen compiled in one place.

Tepper, who was most recently the Head Coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and was recently canned despite a 36-18 record was also the Head Coach previously at Illinois and the defensive coordinator during a disastrous time at LSU.

This proves again that there are more good coaches than good teams. Tepper knows what he is talking about and it shows in this book. He is general enough that coaches can apply what they learn to any defense, but he does dive into the specifics of linebacker technique in certain defenses.

The book begins with Tepper describing the physical and mental qualities he looks for in a linebacker. He goes a step further by comparing those with actual players he has coached.

Tepper does an excellent job breaking down the fundamentals for linebackers, starting with what he calls the "Hit and Shed" base. He follows his explanations up with numerous drills that reinforce each idea. The diagrams are well done and pretty easy to follow.

He also discusses what his linebackers do during the time between plays. This is something I would have skipped out on in a position manual.

The worst part about the book is when Tepper refers to Jerry Sandusky when discussing a drill he learned from him. Just hearing his name gives me the creeps.

This is a must read for any defensive coordinator or linebackers coach. It has helped me craft and organize my linebacker position manual a little better and opened my eyes to teaching some fundamentals in a new way.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Breaking it Down: The 49ers Game-Winning TD Pass

When is it ok for a grown man to cry? When he is 6'3'', 250-pounds

While San Francisco 49ers Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman received a lot of credit for calling the gutsy quarterback sweep that put the 49ers ahead with a little over two minutes remaining, it was Quarterbacks Coach Geep Chryst (the brother of recently hired Pittsburgh Head Coach Paul Chryst) who called all of San Francisco's two-minute plays against the Saints, including the game-winning touchdown pass from Alex Smith to Vernon Davis that clinched a 36-32 victory over New Orleans and a berth in the NFC Championship.

Chryst emphasized this specific play throughout the practice week to beat the Saints' tendency to run a form of Tampa 2 coverage in the red zone. He specifically knew the backside safety would play flat footed, two-yards deep in the end zone.

The design was pretty simplistic on the 49ers part. It was the execution on the end of Smith and Davis that was flawless. Couple this with the lack of execution from New Orleans' defense and San Francisco came up with a play for the ages.

On 3rd and 4 on the Saints' 14-yard line and with 14 seconds remaining and one timeout, San Francisco came out in a 2x2 shotgun formation with running back Frank Gore flanking Smith on the left side. Tight ends Vernon Davis (85) and Justin Peelle (81) lined up on the left. Davis had a tight split and was on the line of scrimmage, while Peelle was tight to Davis and off the ball. On the right side of the formation wide receivers Michael Crabtree (15) and Kyle Williams (10) were split wider. Crabtree is the #2 receiver on the ball and Williams is outside the numbers off the ball.

To the playside, Davis cleared and ran a post/dig while Peelle ran a curl route.
On the backside, San Francisco ran a typical smash route with Crabtree running the corner and Williams running the hitch.
New Orleans' defense came out just like Chryst thought.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Rocket Toss Series

It's a quick-hitter!
After reading Coach B Dud's post on a series based offense, I wanted to give some insight on how to use the Rocket Toss, a normal flexbone staple, as a complete series within that or any offense you employ it with.

Series based offenses work well because coaches can find the defenders who are cheating and take advantage of them with a different play that looks extremely similar. If a defense over commits to the motion man, they can be hit backside with play x. If the LBs fly out with motion, the offense can run play x back inside. All this occurs off the same look.

We get a lot of teams who start out in a quarters look against us and roll coverage towards our motion man by bringing a safety down into the box. Having complementary backside plays works well against teams who over adjust. All these plays are drawn up against a 4-4 look, or what we might see after a team rolls their coverage towards the motion.

1. The Rocket Toss

From a teaching standpoint, this should be the simplest play to run. All the OL follow normal zone rules. Give a quick slotback the ball in space and you have a very easy an effective play. This play has worked well on the goal line when teams are expecting to see inside veer and they get the same motion they see throughout the game. Defenses can easily be caught off guard with a quick hitting, outside play. If your PST has trouble reaching the PSDE, you can have the PSSB chip the outside shoulder before working up to the next level.

PST: Zone step and reach PSDE
PSG: Zone step to PSLB
C: Zone step to N
BSG: Backside cutoff to ILB
BST: Backside cutoff to next interior lineman
Q: Open up to the left and toss the ball to the Z over the tackle, boot out right
F: Block BSDE
H: Block PSOLB
Z: Normal motion to F's butt. Look to catch pitch over tackle.
X: Stalk block CB
Y: Cutoff block to nearest DB

2. The Boot Pass

After giving the illusion of Rocket toss with the motion and fake pitch, the QB boots to his right and has a myriad of options at his disposal. Our QB reads, flat, to drag, to post-corner and then to the dig. He rarely gets to the dig though unless a safety has been occupied by the drag route. The pulling guard attempts to kick out the PSDE and the QB will step up as necessary in this situation.

PST: Slide left
PSG: Slide left
C: Slide left
BSG: Pull right for boot, kick out or log PSDE depending on action
BST: Step inside to protect inside gap
Q: Open up to the left, fake toss and boot to right
F: Flat
H: Draf
Z: Normal motion to F's butt. Carry out motion into flat
X: Backside Dig
Y: Post Corner

Monday, January 9, 2012

Video Review: Defensive Back Play From A-Z

I've often wondered whether DVD's from companies like Coaches Choice or Championship Productions were worth the cost.

In the past, I have been disappointed with some of the videos I have purchased. They were either too simple, didn't fit what I was trying to do or the situation I was in or they were just an outright rip-off.

With that said, I will be reviewing any videos I buy in the future, both to rehash what I learned and to give everyone else some insight before they pony up their hard earned cash.

One of my main goals this off-season was to retool our defensive back play, including our fundamentals and drills. After soliciting the services of the CoachHuey message board, I was pointed towards the Coaches Choice videos authored by Nick Rapone.
When the DVD's were made, Rapone was a DBs coach at Temple. He is currently the Defensive Coordinator for the University of Delaware.

This video is actually a set of six different ones CoachRapone has made. I had a 50% off holiday coupon code and I used a digital download, so I actually paid about $38 for six DVDs! That is cheaper than you can normally buy one video for! Needless to say, I was pretty proud of myself when I purchased them.

The six videos last just over 3 hours and 30 minutes and cover The Art and Practice of Tackling, Off-Man and Catch-Pass Coverage Techniques, Individual Techniques for Defensive Back Play, Cover 2 Pass Defense, Championship Defensive Back Drills and Bracket and Vice Double Coverage Techniques . It took me a little while to watch all of them and I took meticulous notes while doing so (it's the only way I remember anything nowadays).

These were by far the best videos I have purchased to date. I would rate the series as a whole an 8/10. Coach Rapone does a great job breaking down the drills he uses and explains the purpose that they serve in his scheme. If there was one pitfall to the series, it was that many of the drills and fundamentals were repeated. The game film wasn't the best quality and it would have been beneficial to have them presented in a Hudl-like manner with arrows and circles so I could focus on what I needed to without having to rewind.

One thing that stuck out to me was how Coach Rapone taught how to break up a comeback route. If the DB is unable to "shoot the hip" and get in front of the wide receiver, he should not come over the top and create contact. Instead, he should go underneath the receiver's arms and separate them away from their body.

Coach Rapone talks in length about how to read a 3-step drop and how to react to different routes while breaking on the upfield shoulder. There are a ton of drills relating to man-to-man schemes, zone schemes and just simple fundamentals any DB would need.

There is a little bit of everything in this set, so if you're an aspiring DB coach, need to learn from the ground up or just want a refreshing look at how to coach DB play, these videos are more than worth the money.

*Note: I will continue to review some of the previous DVDs I have bought in further posts.