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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Making Change in Your Life

As I woke up today (Thanksgiving) I realized that this will be the first Thanksgiving I can remember that I will not eat turkey, or any animal product. My wife and I became vegans this summer for a number of different reasons, and we love it! We watched a couple of different documentaries, read some articles and we decided to make a change in our lives. We felt it was needed and did not care what other people thought because we knew it was right for us. My father in law was the original vegan in our family and now my mom and dad are also vegans. I think being vegan is the way to go because it shows compassion for our environment and it is great for our bodies!

Now, I know you are asking yourself why a football coach is talking about being a vegan on his football blog site. Maybe some people stopped reading after the first sentence! But, if you will hang with me, I will tie this back into coaching football! I promise this article will not be about how to change your diet, but if you want more information about being vegan please email me!

All of us have made changes in our lives for a number of reasons. Change can be a hard thing for a lot of people because it can be uncomfortable. Some people look forward to change and some people dread change. However, when you know it is time to make a change, DO IT! The universe is constantly evolving and our state of being is constant evolution. No one stayed a baby forever and in a hundred years all of us will be dead! The key is recognizing when we need to make change and when we need to stay the course. Seeking wise counsel is the best way to make sure we are making wise decisions. I have a handful of people that I consult about big changes in my life and all of them have my best interest at heart. I hope everyone of you have a circle of people that you can trust when it comes to life altering decisions.

As I have reflected on this past football season, there are a number of different things I am going to change as I go forward as a head football coach. I have worked for people that do not change anything during the off - season, and I have worked for people that change everything during the off - season. Those programs are successful because their head coaches knew what their program needed to attain or sustain success. It is my job to constantly evaluate how we can make our football program better. That is the most important role of a head coach. The head coach is the one that makes the decision to stay the course, make slight adjustments or completely change course. This is a critical decision that can completely change the direction of a football program. I consult people that I trust about these types of decisions because they will affect everyone.

I am a film nerd, so I have a lot of film from other programs on Hudl. Now is the time of year where I will make cut - ups of different schemes I like. I make offensive, defensive and special teams cut - ups so we can discuss potential scheme changes as a staff. I will visit other programs this off - season to gather ideas about how to do a better job of developing our athletes and our football culture. I am always looking for a handful of schemes or ideas that will make our football program better. These are things that every good coach does in the off - season, because if we are not getting better we are getting worse.

So as you eat your turkey this Thanksgiving, I pray that you will take action on the changes you need to make in your life. Remember that it is your life and no one else can live it! Be bold with your decisions once you know it is right for you! Enjoy your Thanksgiving and God bless!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Odd Cover 1 Defense

New article on the USA Football website! Odd Cover 1 Defense

I will also be recording more podcasts in the near future!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Man to Man eBook

Steven Peeler (DC at Clover High School in South Carolina) and myself have written a 26 page eBook about man coverage concepts. They are simple concepts that anyone can add to their defensive playbook! 

Here is the link to the eBook:

Please feel free to send me comments and questions to:

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Podcast Episode #8 Leadership

You can find my new podcast and all of my podcasts here:

It is also in iTunes! Search Mind of a Football Coach!!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

What Defense Should We Run?

I find it interesting that defensive coaches say they are a 3-3, 4-2-5, 4-3, 46 "guys" and they do not run anything but their style of defense. I philosophically disagree with that outlook of coaching at the high school level. We must adapt our scheme to fit our personnel because we cannot recruit our players or sign them to a contract. In my opinion, we must remain flexible with our defensive scheme so we can fit the scheme to the talents of our players. I have changed defensive schemes in the middle of a season and we went to the state championship game! Do not be afraid to change your scheme if it is needed!

Do you have the personnel for an odd front?

I am not married to any defensive system, but I totally believe in playing man to man coverage regardless of the scheme. We will use a majority of cover 1 and cover 0 to take away the run / pass conflict for our players, which allows them to play FAST!! The fronts we use will change year to year based on the number of defensive linemen and linebackers. There are some great coaches that love zone coverage and they have won a lot of games with it. That works for them, and I love the fact that they have a philosophy and they stick to it. That being said, I am a man to man guy for a number of reasons:
1. No run / pass conflict
2. Simple teaching (You have that DUDE)
3. The offense cannot overload you
4. Sets the tone for your program
5. Takes away space

Do you have the personnel for and even front?

I have an upcoming podcast that will discuss this issue and it will be on and iTunes in 5 days! Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Podcast with Joey Fields



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Let's Talk About Summer....

Football coaches have different views about what a productive summer looks like for their football program. There are coaches that take their teams to a bunch of different team camps, and there are those that do a minimal amount of work during the summer to allow their players to be "kids." Most coaches in West Virginia fall between those two views of summer. I am not trying to say there is one way everyone should use summer. There are coaches who have won state championships with a variety of strategies during the summer. The purpose of this blog post is to detail how we use our summer and hopefully it will help your program in the future!

In West Virginia we have what is called the "three week period" where we can use a football and have actual practices. This starts the second week in June and you can put on shoulder pads for part of it, practice, go to 7 on 7 tournaments, etc. We will start our summer program the week before the three week period so the players can lift and run. We also used three of our flex days during this week to allow the players to become accustomed to how we practice. I found this to be very beneficial because it allowed us to hit the ground running when we started our three week period. 

We went to three college 7 on 7 tournaments and we threw 7 on 7 with three different high school programs during the three week period. Four days a week (Monday - Thursday) we would get in a lift and then we would practice for an hour and a half. We were in helmets the first week and then we put on shoulder pads for the second and third weeks. There was no live contact when we put on the shoulder pads. The reason we used shoulder pads was to help our players get in shape and to allow us to practice controlled tackling without the risk of breaking a collar bone.  Our players enjoyed being able to put on the shoulder pads and the coaches liked to be able to teach technique without fear of an upper body injury.

We will then give the coaches and players off the week of July 4th so everyone can take a break from football. I believe that it is important to allow your coaches and players to get away from football during the summer because we put in long hours during the season. Our bye week is not until week 11, so we need the time off to help us stay fresh during the season. We will resume workouts after the week off and the players will only lift and run for 2 weeks (Monday - Thursday). Then we will use our remaining three flex days the last week before the season starts. We will give the players off Thursday and Friday that week so they are fresh on the first day of practice on Monday.

I think we get all we can out of the summer, and it is a big reason why we have had more success than the previous years at Riverside. I believe you win games in the off - season and practice. I am not saying we work harder than any program, but no one will outwork us in the state of West Virginia. I hope this blog post starts a meaningful discussion about how we can best use our summer practice time. Thank you for reading!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Introduction to the 4-2-5 Defense

The modern 4-2-5 defense can trace its roots to the wide tackle 6 that has been used since the 1930's. The wide tackle 6 eventually became the 4-4 defense which then morphed into the 4-2-5 defense. The 4-2-5 has become very popular in today's game because of the use of 10,11 and 20 personnel.

10 / 11 / 20 Personnel

Because offenses are using 3,4, or 5 wide receiver sets on a regular basis, defenses are having to play with five defensive backs to combat the speed the offense is putting on the field. In order to get 5 defensive backs on the field a defense must choose between a 3-3-5 or a 4-2-5. In high school, we cannot recruit out players, so we must develop our personnel. At my high school we have a lot of defensive linemen and defensive backs, so we use a 4-2-5 as our base defense. The 4-2-5 allows us to match personnel and keep the scheme simple so our players can play fast! We want our players to be able to line up, match numbers (eligible receivers), and be sound versus the variety of offenses we see during a football season. We never want a player to be indecisive, so we use a lot of man principles to eliminate run pass conflicts. Offenses are doing a great job of putting zone defenders in conflict with RPO's (Run Pass Options), so we do not use a lot of zone concepts. We do have them in the playbook, but they can be easily attacked by RPO's. Here is a great article about the evolution of the RPO:

Base 4-2-5 Structure

There are some 4-2-5 defenses that base out of split field concepts (TCU) or cover 3. I like to use cover 1 because I believe that it is the mother of all coverages because you can get max numbers in the run game, have a low hole and high hole player, and you force an offense to make throws into tight coverage. You can also use a multitude of fronts with cover 1: over, under, double 2's, double 3's, etc. 

Thank you for reading this article! 


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!