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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What's New is Old

The summer is a great time to read a good book, listen to an interesting podcast, take long runs, play with my daughter, go hiking in Fayetteville, WV and watch documentaries on Netflix. Being able to slow down and invest in myself for the first time in months is a good feeling. As a coach, you are constantly pouring yourself out for other people, and I need time to recharge before the grind of the football season. One of the ways I am recharging is using my phone and computer less so I can read more books, listen to more podcasts and be more present with the people that surround me. Now, in this digital age, you cannot simply get rid of your phone, but it needs to be turned off or ignored for a person to keep their sanity. Phones have become an essential part of life and they have a necessary purpose, but sometimes it can rule my life with the constant demand to read Twitter posts, emails, text messages, etc. Phones are very useful, but I need to find a way to ignore it or use it for educational purposes.

One way I have used my phone in an educational way this summer is to listen to a number of different podcasts during my morning run before workouts. There are a number of great football podcasts, but I actually prefer to listen to ones that focus on philosophy, history and spirituality. The podcast that I listen to the most right now is called the RobCast by a guy named Rob Bell. Some people love Rob and some people really dislike him, but he is incredibly entertaining and thought provoking. Here is the link to his podcast: I do not personally believe in everything Rob does, but he does speak some profound truth that has given my soul rest over the last month.

There is a wisdom series he did (Episodes 116 - 125) that allowed me to think about wisdom in a totally different way. There are philosophies, feelings and situations that people have been trying to figure out for thousands of years, so it is ok to not always have the answers. These podcasts have also allowed me to realize that what we think is a new idea has been around for thousands of years. Millennials often think that we have new ideas that no one has ever thought of, but that is far from the truth. This is the same for football coaches that think that they have thought of something that has never been done before (I knew I would bring this back to football at some point!).

What's new in our lives or football is always old. Meaning that the struggles we have in life have been around for eons of time. Same goes for the struggles on the football field. As coaches, we are trying to reinvent the wheel and what we need to do is simply seek the wisdom of those who have been around longer than ourselves. There is great wisdom in talking to older coaches about philosophy, scheme, practice schedule, etc. There are absolute truths in life and football that have been passed down from generation to generation, and all we have to do is seek out those who have more life experience than ourselves. One of my favorite coaches to talk to is Bryce Casto, Head Football Coach at Nitro High School, WV, because he is full of life and football wisdom. He has been coaching football almost as long as I have been alive! He is a man that I deeply admire and I look forward to every time we text or talk. His ability to put into words what I feel as a young coach is astounding. May all of us find a mentor to help us navigate life with wisdom! Attaining wisdom does not mean that we need to find a mentor coach with an above average IQ. It means that we need to find someone that has carefully calculated how to live their life in a meaningful way and learn from their failures and success. Wisdom is always calling out to us, and it is our job to listen to her.

Lastly, I plan on writing a series of blog posts about how foundational football schemes are still widely used today. They may look a little different because of how the game has evolved, but they are still at the heart of high school, college and pro football. The two schemes I will write about are the wide tackle six defense and the veer offense. The wide tackle six is now the 4-2-5 and the veer is now the zone read with RPO's off of it. The game continues to evolve but always remember that what's new is old.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Being a High School Coach

Being a high school coach is a very rewarding profession that allows us to help young men become productive members of society. It is my calling in life and I could not see myself doing anything else. The year round processes of developing your team is very time consuming but it is necessary if we are going to raise young men to be great husbands, fathers and employees. Wins and losses are third on my list of what I want to accomplish each year.

 First, I want my players to be good young men. Second, I want them to be great students. Lastly, I want them to be good football players. If you raise good young men that are successful in the classroom, then you will have good football teams if your players have the God given talent and we do a great job as coaches developing our players.

Coaching in high school is very different from coaching in college or professional football. We do not get to recruit our players and we must develop them in order to have a successful season. I look forward to the off - season and pre - season much more than the actual season. The off - season is a time where we get to develop an off - season lifting program, practice plans, and coaches meetings to get ready for the upcoming season. Pre - season practice is a blast because all we do is coach football and help our players develop without the "noise" of the season. 

Most people think they could be a high school coach, but few actually know what goes on inside a good high school program. Most people do not know about the 60 hour work week, the Sunday meetings, washing practice attire, checking the players' grades, dealing with "those" parents, and the stress Friday night's put on your family. My wife does not sit with our fans because of the nasty things people say about players and coaches. Now, those people paid their money, so they are entitled to speak their mind, but they do not understand the stress it puts on your wife and 2 year old little girl. 

There are a lot of great high school coaches that deal with the same issues every Friday night during the season, but we press on because we want to make a difference in our players' lives. We do not do it for the money or fame. We are investing into the lives of our players and trying to help them reach their goals and dreams! Next time you see a high school football coach, please thank them for their tireless work! 

God Bless!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Multiple Forms of Man to Man

My first job on the defensive side of the football was being a defensive coordinator and secondary coach! I was an offensive lineman in my playing days (high school and college) and my first two years of coaching high school football. A good friend of mine needed a defensive coordinator and he trusted me with the job without any experience (experience is OVER RATED). We had 8 defensive touchdowns that year (2011) and we gave up less than 200 yards per game using a 3-3 with a TON of country cover 3. 

I would like to think my defensive knowledge has dramatically increased since my first year as a defensive coordinator. However, the more I learn about defense, the more I believe in playing SIMPLE defense with man coverage in the secondary. Offenses are spreading the field and putting zone defenders in a TON of conflict. Using man to man is the best way to keep your defenders out of conflict and allowing them to play FAST (cover your DUDE). 

There are many ways to play man to man. You can blitz 6 and play cover 0 which is a great way to get pressure or you can play man to man with spy droppers underneath. I believe you should be able to mix and match your pressures and keep the coverage the same so your players can play FAST! I do not believe you can carry 10 different coverages, fronts and blitzes because you will be great at NONE of them. 

Below are some examples of how you can use cover 0 with a variety of fronts and blitzes:

I would love to collaborate with other coaches that use a lot of man to man in their defense. Please feel free to comment or email me with ideas. Thank you for reading and God bless!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Protecting the Bear

When you use a bear front on a regular basis, an offense can begin to pick on the "weaknesses" in the defense. One of the weaknesses is putting the back into the flat on an arrow route and making your Mike linebacker cover him one on one running inside out. Another weakness is motioning the back out of the backfield then running quarterback draw, counter or zone.

One way to protect yourself against these weaknesses is to use a "Peel" technique by the edge rushers.

This page is taken from Wade Phillips' playbook and provides really good details about how this coverage is used against 11 personnel. Below are examples of how it is used versus different formations:

I believe in using a simple defense that employs a limited number of fronts, blitzes and coverages. However, I do believe in having adjustments within your scheme to help protect the "weaknesses" of your defense. Using a "Peel" technique is a great way to help your Mike linebacker play the run more effectively and have low and high hole help versus the pass. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Using Man Coverage with the 5-3 Defense

These past two seasons have taught me a lot about being a head football coach. In order to be a good HFC you must hire a great staff that constantly pushes your players towards excellence. I have been fortunate to hire great coordinators that hold themselves and the players to a high standard. High school is different from college in that we cannot recruit players to fit our scheme. We must fit our scheme to our players and be able to defend all of the different offenses you will see during a season (Wing - T, Pro, Spread). We have a couple different packages in our defense but our 5-3 package has been effective in getting max numbers against the run. It is risky versus the pass, but that is a risk you have to be willing to take from time to time.

In our 5-3 package we still use two safeties, but one rocks down into the box versus 11, 20, 21, 30 and 31 personnel. Versus 10 personnel we have a 5-2 box with our two safeties in coverage on the #2 or #3 wide receivers. Below are pictures of this package versus various formations:


The advantage of using man coverage is that you can be very creative with your line movements and blitzes. We use a nose / tackle twist and a tackle / end twist as well as blitzing the linebackers in the A, B, C and D gaps. The nose and tackle are spill players and our ends are force / BCR. If a tackle loops to the edge, he now becomes force / BCR and the end becomes a spill player.

When we are in man coverage, we will run with any motion. The coaching point is to beat the guy in motion across the formation so you have leverage on the arrow route and jet sweep. We play press and off depending on the opponent / down and distance. We try to keep it as simple as possible so our guys can play FAST!!! Here are some cut - ups of our 5-3 defense:

Thank you for reading and GOD BLESS!!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Using Man Principles to Slow Down Today's Offenses

As I researched the current state of football this off - season I came to a couple of conclusions:
1. Combining spread formations with option, power run game, RPO's, quick game and down field concepts is the best way to build an offense.
2. Defenses have to use some form of man coverage to stop what offenses are doing today. We have to get plus 1 in the box (sometimes plus 2) to stop the run game, which leaves you one on one versus every receiver in the passing game.

You better have a plan for the zone read!!

After watching offenses go up and down the field with zone read, gap scheme (power / counter) and RPO's I started to realize that defenses need to become more aggressive with their schemes. Today's spread offense is using option principles so today's defenses need to use more man coverage to combat the offense's ability to put defenders in conflict.

High Risk / High Reward Defense

There is a great 3 part series on Virginia Tech's Bear package on and I would highly recommend all defensive coaches read all 3 parts. I believe what Coach Foster believes: we cannot sit back on defense and try to win games 50 - 49. We have to take the fight to the offense and make the quarterback beat us with pressure in his face while making tough, downfield throws!

I believe you can use a bear package like is shown above or you can go with the Ole Gap 8 defense as a great change up!!

You can move to the Gap 8 or line up in it

What is great about the bear and the gap 8 is that they are both very easy to teach. You can install them in 1 practice but like all defenses you have to spend a lot of time on the fundamentals (the devil is in the details).

Thank you for taking the time to read this article and I hope your off - season is going well!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Smoke Package

Smoke Package
`                 Bringing pressure is a must if you want to create negative plays. You can do this with cover 1 pressures or you can play cover 0.  Cover 0 may seem scary, but if you have well defined rules that adjust to any formation, cover 0 is an excellent tool. You cannot be afraid to bring pressure when it is needed!
                  The blitz I am going to detail is what I call “Smoke”. I learned this package from a couple of great coaches in the state of Georgia, and they run this call 25 – 30% of the time. This is a packaged blitz that has very defined rules that allow your players to key in on their assignment and play without thinking.
                  Smoke is a field pressure that is illustrated below:

                  The field end and nose slant to the boundary and the boundary end plays a tight base technique where he spills all pullers and performs a bull rush versus the pass. The Sam is a spill blitzer to the field and the Will is a contain blitzer to the boundary. The Mike has the Tailback man to man. The Stud ($) is a contain blitzer to the field. The Corners are in man to man on #1, the Adjuster (A) is man on #2 to the boundary / #3 to the field and the Free Safety (FS) is man on #2 to the field or #3 to the boundary.

This is what Smoke looks like versus 3x1:

Versus Empty the Spur gives an “I’m Gone” call and the Sam becomes a contain rusher. You can also blitz the Mike if you still want a 6 man pressure.

Here is what Smoke looks like versus empty:

                  This pressure can also be called to a tight end and that is referred to as “Gator”. That concept is illustrated below:

                  The Adjuster takes the Tailback and the Mike takes the fullback, but everyone else remains the same. This is the beauty of the Smoke blitz! It is a simple package that is sound versus every formation and it allows your players to play fast so you can take the offense by surprise.

                  Thank you for reading my article and I would greatly appreciate your feedback! My email is and my Twitter handle is @zachdavis24. God bless you as you progress through your season!