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D-II version of "Evolution of Dance"

A unique offensive philosophy

Back in May of 2010 Jim Lyall was named head coach at Siena Heights University, a new NAIA program in Adrian, Michigan. Lyall had previously spent over 20 years as the head coach at crosstown Adrian College, spending a total of 36 years on staff.

When he got to Siena Heights Lyall decided to employ a unique offensive strategy. He would have two completely different offensive units. One that ran the spread, and the other that ran a double wing scheme (or what they call the "X-Unit"). 

We hear that when the coaches decide to make the switch on game day, 11 new players take the field that specialize in the new scheme.

"Now people have to prepare for not only one offense, but for two. It’s two different styles of offenses, and for other teams to prepare for that in one week can be difficult.” Lyall explained. Taking a look at their stat sheets, it is not uncommon to see at least 10 players with at least one carry in any given game.

During the 2011 season, one coordinator (Jason Mensing) called the double wing plays, and another (Jeff Hancock) handled the spread play calling duties. 

We have heard from numerous high school coaches that the unique approach, coupled with the staff's hard work on the road recruiting, has made them popular with both coaches and recruits. The offensive versatility allows them to recruit student athletes that fit well in either scheme.

In a state already saturated with 6 D-III programs, 8 D-II programs, 5 D-I programs, and one other NAIA program the Saints have signed an impressive 53 players in their incoming freshman class and featured 123 players on the roster last season.

Mensing, who has since taken the head coaching job at Ottawa Lake Whiteford HS (MI), explained the recruiting advantage to Adrian's Daily Telegram last season.

“The best thing about it for me is we’re creating greater opportunities for kids to achieve for us. The skill set that’s required for our system is different than the skill set for the spread. We have that many more athletes that we’re utilizing. Ultimately, that means we have more guys helping our team win.”

In their inaugural season the Saints went 8-1 (with a handful of D-III JV teams and club teams on the schedule). Still, the Saints were very efficient offensively, scoring at least 28 points in all but two games, including a five game stretch where they outscored opponents 255-25.

Ole Miss staff: "Connecting" with their guys

Under the Lights, a series from FSN South, got a pass inside Ole Miss for their spring practices and judging from the footage, two things are certain. Tempo is continually stressed during practice on both sides of the ball, and the players have developed an instant connection with the coaching staff.

When the players were asked about the new staff and their impressions since their arrival, each player echoed the same message; a connection with the staff since has been formed since the very beginning.

Some good footage in here of Freeze and his offensive and defensive staff harping on practice tempo as well.

Dantonio: The #1 thing is relationships

Listen to any of Mark Dantonio's press conferences this off season and you'll hear a consistent message that credits their success, in large part, to their ability to retain assistants.

As we have noted before, the defensive staff at Michigan State has been together for an impressive 9 seasons, dating back to their time at Cincinnati. Offensively, the staff has lost two guys that left to run their own programs in Dan Enos (Central Michigan) and Don Treadwell (Miami of Ohio). Not a bad 9 year stretch for staff retention.

"My mentality, my No. 1 goal, is to impact and influence and have relationships with our young people for the rest of their lives, that's it. Beyond that, everything else becomes window dressing. We're not naive to the fact that we have to win. We're not naive to the fact that we have to graduate our players, and we're doing those things."

"The No. 1 thing is the relationships. I think that you can't foster those relationships without continuity on your staff. And that speaks volumes about who our staff is. They're not just coaches, they're not just guns for hire." Dantonio explained.

Team Prowler pull-push

The guys at up at Villanova sent us a good team drill that they're using to give their guys an edge heading into this season.

Below is a clip of their pull-push sled drill that they have set up as a team relay competition. Enjoy.

Casteel: I lose sleep thinking of all the receivers

Jeff Casteel has admittedly lost some sleep thinking of all the receivers his unit is going to see in 2012, starting in fall camp and stretching through the Pac-12 season.

"Wide receivers are everywhere. That's a problem. I'm having trouble sleeping in the desert thinking about all of the guys we're going to have to face this fall. There is so much talent in the conference and they are all well-coached. You go from Oregon running up-tempo to Stanford grinding it out. You really see the full gambit."

If we had to guess, we'd say that Casteel has also spent some time late at night thinking of the deep talent pool that USC is working with at receiver as well.

While those not familiar with the 3-3-5 see it as a far cry from the more "traditional" defenses, Casteel offers a gentle reminder that football is simple at its core.

"Football is football. A little more gets made (of the 3-3-5) than there really is. It's not much different. It's an odd front, but it's still about getting off blocks and staying square and using your hands and getting people on the ground. Those are the things you focus on. If you are a good fundamentals team, you'll have a chance for success."




Video Tour: Miami's weight room

The guys at Athletic Strength and Power (also known as ASAP) got an in depth tour from Miami (OH) director of strength and conditioning coordinator Paul Harker recently that's worth a look.

This tour goes beyond just showing the weight room and talking about the square footage. Harker takes the time to talk about the versatility of their equipment and overall space, the challenges they face with the weight room not being connected to an indoor practice facility, and the reasoning behind why they do what they do.

Some really great stuff in here.

Oregon State's new Turf

Oregon State laid down some new turf in Corvallis for this season, but the designs at midfield and in the end zones are only temporary.

A few months ago, Oregon State reached out to Nike to research some possible changes to their logo, colors, and font. Because of the possible changes, the field is being outfitted with temporary logo's and font for this season, with any major branding changes to take place in the fall of 2013. Any permanent changes to the field will be made thereafter.

Along with the new playing surface going down, the Beavers are also getting Turf installed on their practice field, a change that head coach Mike Riley believes will be a game changer from a safety and preparation standpoint.

“This is an exciting project on many fronts. In reality, we aren’t able to use our practice facility to the extent we would like in its current form due to the field conditions in inclement weather; Turf opens up many options for us that haven’t been available, mainly giving us more practice space and the ability to be outdoors more often as well as adding a measure of safety for our student-athletes.”


GA of the Day - Joey Orck (Vanderbilt)

Some of the finest offensive line coaches we know rave about Vanderbilt offensive grad assistant Joey Orck as a coach, a friend and a mentor. Oh, and he receives a pretty good endorsement from his head coach in this video as well (about the 1:30 mark).

Spend some time with the Vanderbilt staff (as I have) and you'll come away very impressed...and Orck will be one of the guys you remember. Great guy, hard working, cares deeply about the program and his group of players. 

In the video Orck describes the transition from Bobby Johnson to Robbie Caldwell (and Herb Hand) and then to James Franklin and how the University treated the grad assistants. Never an easy situation; but what Orck describes seems like fair treatment under the circumstances. Glad it worked out the way it did.