Should your offensive and defensive philosophies mirror each other?
Auburn defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder explained yesterday that part of their struggles on the defensive side of the ball have to do with not being physically big enough to hang with their opponents for a full sixty minutes.
"I'm from the school of 'big.'" VanGorder explains.
"I think that I am right in that. I think if you look at the NFL there was one defense that was built with the idea of small and fast, and it was a defense that was built with a high scoring offense that was ahead all the time. And it worked, I'm speaking of Indianapolis."
"It's a heavyweight game. It's for big people, and strong people, and we've got to improve in that area."
That brings up an interesting point. Depending on what level your coaching at, do you (or should you) adjust your offensive or defensive philosophies (and ultimately your recruiting strategy) based on what the other side of the ball does?
Take what VanGorder says in the clip for example; If you've got an offense that puts a ton of points on the board and is up and down the field in a hurry, wouldn't it make sense to have smaller, faster guys out there on defense? And on the flip side of that, if you've got an offense that is big and physical and can grind it out each week, isn't there some value in having a big and physical defense as well?
We're interested to hear your thoughts on this one.
If you want to play good defense you have to be in position 100% of the time
After dropping their last four straight games after a 5-0 start, Dana Holgorsen talked to the media yesterday about their struggles on the defensive side of the ball.
The Mountaineer defense ranks 110th or worse in pass efficiency defense (119th), total defense (110th), scoring defense (117th), and pass defense (120th). The Mountaineers have allowed at least 34 points in seven of their nine games this season.
"You gotta be there 100% of the time if you want to play good defense, it's got to be all the time. You can't say we played good defense with the exception of seven or eight snaps...which they scored on."
"We're having a hard time getting through to our guys, which is coaching, that we have to play like that all the time. That's the challenge." Holgorsen explained.
This weekend they'll have their work cut out for them as they take on an Oklahoma offense that ranks in the top 16 nationally in passing offense (15th ), total offense (16th), and scoring offense (13th).
Al Golden: At this point in the year you're either wearing headphones or earplugs
Miami has hit a recent rough patch in the schedule, losing their past four of five. Beyond just the wins and losses, Al Golden is frustrated with having to discipline players this late in the season, when they should be focused on winning games and getting better on each side of the ball.
"Every team battles it. I just don’t want to be battling it in November. I mean, you’ve either got a headset on or earplugs or you just don’t listen to what anybody else is saying in the building, because for two weeks now that’s all we’ve been talking about.”
The past two weeks answering questions about suspensions and behavior issues have felt more like a television show than a football program at times Golden noted. “It’s been TMZ since I’ve been here. Let’s be honest, right? It’s been tough on the coaches. It’s been tough on me.”
One of the the most frustrating parts for Golden and his staff has been taking time away from instructing the entire team to hash out the mistakes of a few players. With that said, it's important to set the standard of expectations for the future players of the program.
"I say to the team all the time, you’re sitting in a room with 110 guys and 107 of them are doing everything right and it’s two or three guys that [mess] up. Now you’re in there yelling at the whole team. We have to make sure we don’t drain everybody else’s energy because a couple of guys aren’t doing what they need to do."
"You have to break the cycle. You can’t hand that down as acceptable to the next generation of Miami Hurricanes." Golden explained in the Miami Herald.
Noting that players always respond better to their peers, Golden and his staff put together a "unity council" that is comprised of a few players from each class who handle themselves the right way on and off the field.
Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio explained the unity council philosophy.
“Always, players respond better to their peers. Sometimes you hear the same thing over and over again from a coach, but when one of your guys — the guy that you live with, you’re in the dining hall with, you hang out with — tells you the truth and keeps it real, they respond better. Guys have to be proactive in that area, and that’s something we have to improve on."
“Our job here is to develop them as human beings. If we were worried about ourselves, we wouldn’t suspend them. You’re suspending them in hopes that it will help them. You try to save everybody, but eventually they don’t save themselves. The last thing is to give up on somebody. We’re not pro football coaches. We’re college coaches.” D'Onofrio added.
This season has been a trying time for the Hurricanes on and off the field, but the staff understands the big picture. When you're dealing with college aged kids on a day to day basis, some of them will make knuckle-headed decisions. As coaches it is our responsibility to help them learn from it, and make sure that the everyone involved with the team understands the expectations of being a player within your program.
Also, good move by the staff in creating a "unity council". Developing an effective way to communicate with your the leaders among your team is a great way to allow players input into the major decisions involving the program, and it also allows coaches a great pulse on everything involved with the team.
Inside Scoop: Being a first time head coach
Being a first time head coach is never a cake walk. Throw in retaining your offensive coordinator responsibilities and time management becomes more critical than ever before.
Don't take my word for it, listen to Abilene Christian head coach Ken Collums explain the challenges he encountered in his first year as head coach at ACU.
As you will see in the video, Collums' quarterback once again had an outstanding year (wait until you hear the stat). Collums then spends most of the video talking about how handles the day to day challenges that he faced as a first time head coach. Towards the end of the video Collums spends a few minutes discussing their upcoming move up to FCS which they do next season. In his words, this is the right thing to do for the university; but it won't be easy going for the team (which won't be able to compete in the FCS playoffs for five seasons).
On that last note, can anyone explain the logic in that restriction? New programs, by rule, can't compete for the championship for five seasons. That's a head scratcher...
Anyway, great talk with Coach Collums. You can see and hear why his players enjoy playing for him. He a smart, hard-working coach who cares deeply about his players yet has absolutely no ego.
Wednesday TV - MACtion doubleheader
Two big conference games in the MAC tonight. Ohio heads to Ball State (who has won four games in a row), and Toledo takes on Northern Illinois. Both should be quality mid-week contests.
Eastern time listed.
Ohio at Ball State - 8 - ESPNU
Toledo at Northern Illinois - 9 - ESPN2
Chip Kelly on time of possession: "We don't look at that stat"
Chip Kelly was asked at his Tuesday press briefing if he expects Stanford to try to sit on the ball to keep the Ducks' offense off the field.
Kelly cracked a smile, paused about three seconds and responded, half chuckling, "I have no idea."
His tone and reaction indicate that a ball-control offense is a tactic he has seen, and defeated, close to 50 times in his tenure at Oregon.
Kelly then referenced Oregon's game with UCLA in 2010, a game in which the Ducks ran 73 plays to the Bruins' 70, and yet UCLA's offense stayed on the field for 38 and a half minutes, 17 minutes longer than Oregon (the numbers Kelly cited were slightly off). And the Ducks won 60-13.
"We've lost time of possession in maybe every game we've played," Kelly continued. "Time of possession means absolutely nothing to this operation. We were last in the nation last year in time of possession."
Thanks to Rob Moseley of the Eugene Register-Guard for the video.
Update on the Arkansas opening
I spoke with several people today regarding the search at Arkansas.
When asked yesterday about rumors that he was considered a candidate at Arkansas, Gary Patterson offered a somewhat vague, "I don't think there's anything to that." Today I spoke with two sources close to Gary and both said there is nothing to the rumor, "Gary will be the coach at TCU next year and for a long time."
There seems to be a lot of positioning going on still in this search and I continue to believe that Arkansas AD Jeff Long won't decide until he sits down and discusses the opportunity with his preferred candidate after they finish their regular season. However, a source with knowledge of the search tells me that Long is very interested in speaking with Bo Pelini about his interest in the job.
I don't have a dog in this hunt and am simply relaying information but for a lot of reasons I could see Pelini to Arkansas happening, and truthfully I think he would be successful there. He has learned a lot about how to handle the pressure of a large "engaged" fan base over the past few years in Lincoln and he knows his way around the SEC.
As always, we'll keep you posted as this one plays out.
A coach's impact: letter from a former player
We post dozens of coaching transactions every week on The Scoop and, especially at this time of year, a lot of the reports we share aren't happy ones. Coaches move on, sometimes by choice and somtimes by choices made for them. It's unpleasant, but it's the nature of the business.
One of the transactions we noted Monday was the retirement of Jim Dennison. Dennison was the head coach at Akron from 1973-85 and until yesterday was the only head coach Walsh University, a Division II program in Ohio, had ever known. Dennison helped found the program in 1995 and led the Cavaliers to 119 wins.
Due to the sheer volume of news items we post, we simply can not detail the impact and accomplishments of every coach we mention. The Scoop would simply become unreadable otherwise. But Monday night we received a note from one of Dennison's former players that we had to share:
Since Coach Dennison has announced his retirement, I felt it necessary to write this.
When I was being recruited from 2001-2002 I was promised many things, instant playing time, a favorable class schedule, brand new facilities, etc. I was a borderline scholarship player, and several Division I schools had wanted me to come in as a preferred walk-on promising me a scholarship after a year. I had made a choice on a college when I got a call from a coach at Walsh University. I talked to my high school coach, who is like another father to me, about the new development. He said, “I don’t know anything about the school, but I do know Jim Dennison is known as a man of character who plays good, traditional football.” Based on this alone, I went on a visit to Walsh in January of 2002.
After the standard tour, which I had gotten at a dozen other schools, I was led into Coach Dennison’s office, expecting to hear the same lines I’d heard a million times before. Coach Dennison told my mother and myself that he couldn’t promise anything in football, that it was all up to me. What he did promise was positive support, a family atmosphere, and a solid education, and when I graduated he would personally help me find a job. I left his office, got in the car, and told my mother this is the man I wanted to play for and the school I wanted to attend.
When I arrived eight months later, every word he had told me had been held true. He had done everything possible to foster a sense of family and stayed positive throughout camp. On August 20, 2002, my life forever changed. I suffered a severe knee injury and in a moment, my playing career was over. When I got to the hospital, I was told that I might lose my leg and I would probably never walk again. These are tough facts to face when you are 19 years old and you feel as if your life has just started. Coach Dennison was one of the first people at the hospital after my mother arrived. He was followed by every assistant coach on the staff and then by seniors who barely knew my name. He assured my mother that I would remain on scholarship for as long as it took for me to graduate, which he honored.
A few weeks later, I arrived on campus to find out that Coach Dennison had coordinated with the Department of Student Affairs to move me to a handicap accessible dorm room, had moved my schedule to accommodate rehab, had gotten teachers to come to my dorm room to get me caught up, and had a spot for me as a student assistant coach. I worked as a student assistant coach for four years under Dennison and never once did he break his word, bend his morals, or treat the coaching profession with anything less than the utmost dignity and class.
I am successful today in a large part because of the example that Jim Dennison set for me. The coaching profession is losing one bright, shining star today, but the legacy of coaches that have learned under Dennison will remain forever. I felt the need to share my story to really put words to a blurb on a ticker. This isn’t a guy deciding to move on, this was a true molder of men who personified class, character, and dignity.
As an alumnus of Walsh University, the school will be hard pressed to find a man like Dennison.
- Tim Foor
With so much unfortunate news to come over the following weeks and months, we thought it important to highlight the positive impact of one of the many coaches that will not return to their teams next season.