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What Butch Jones learned visiting NFL teams

When you rack up three Big East titles in the past four years and four ten win seasons in the past five years sometimes a sense of complacency can start to creep in...but Butch Jones and Cincinnati certainly don't fit in that category.

This off season Jones has traveled to numerous NFL facilities (including the Bengals and Dolphins) to take a closer look at the differences between the two levels and what him and his staff may be able to tweak. "You can always take something from everyone and every place that you go. You always try to bring little things back. You always try to gain an edge, you always try to gain an inch in your development."

"Even though there's differences, there's a lot more similarities than differences. At the end of the day it's all about teamwork, it's about people doing their job, it's about execution. It's about playing hard. It's getting to have each individual on your team, whether it's 12 individuals or 105 individuals, to play to the best of their God-given ability and to get the most out of them. The competitive factor that goes into it, the motivation that goes into it. We covered all those things from A to Z. it's been great for me to sit and watch everything happen over the course of the playoffs."

After going 4-8 in 2010 and returning a lot of guys that faced adversity during that season, the Bearcats put together a 10-3 season last year. At the end of the day, Jones and the staff knew that staying the course would get them back on track. 

"You got to stay the course. You tweak things based on your personnel, but your fundamental values, the standards, the expectations, the formula for winning never change. Looking back on it we had a team that was very immature, inexperienced and we had a lot of players that had to step up and fill some very big shoes. Lot of times laying a foundation is very tough to do, but once you get that solid foundation, then things take off."


Fundraising idea: "Legacy Game"

T.R. Miller high school is one of the most successful programs in the state of Alabama. Despite being comprised of only around 300 students, Miller has the most wins of any high school in the state (regardless of classification) and an impressive 6 state titles.

To pay homage to their rich history, head coach Jamie Riggs and his staff put together a fundraising idea called the "Legacy Game" where former players are invited back for a reunion during a game, and members of the community will have the opportunity to buy a jersey and number, with the name on the back, to be worn by a current player during the game.

Players were given pledge cards and were asked to find supporters who would donate $25 or more to become "Jersey Backers" in order to get the honored players name on the back of the uniform. The goal is to have $200 collected for each jersey.

At the end of the Legacy Game, players will give the jersey to the former player of family that he honored. Those players and families will also be noted in the game day roster.

In the video below, Coach Riggs does a great job of explaining the project, and more on the logistics and timeline of the idea can be found here.

Video: See the Fargodome turf go down

Piece by piece, starting with the logos, the turf at the Fargodome is currently being laid down.

Interesting video below of the lettering and logos going down. With the prefabricated hashes, lines, numbers, and end zone lettering, the rest of the field should be down by Thursday morning and look like a finished product.

Watson: Teach QB play from the defense's perspective

Midway through the third game of the season, Louisville's starting quarterback went down and the coaching staff replaced him with freshman Teddy Bridgewater, who went on to win Big East Rookie of the year honors. 

Quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson is entering his first full season as the offensive coordinator for the Cardinals after taking the reigns with five games remaining last season. His main focus during the off season has been spent on three things; improving individual players based on performance from last season, improving the scheme, and "pushing the learning curve" for the veteran quarterbacks.

"As a quarterback coach and coordinator I believe this...the most critical time in a quarterback's life is the off season. If you're trying to learn the things you need to know during training camp, you're in trouble." Watson said of the learning progression.

Watson plans to be more multiple this season than they were last year, all while being able staying in the same personnel groupings.

"I love multiplicity because that allows you to play to your skill set and your team but at the same time be creative in the way you use them to create touches for the playmakers. Our installation right now has that in it. So now we develop the way we do our business, creating touches and matchups that our players can take advantage of. And it's conceptually driven so it allows you to be multiple without being hard. The thing for us to teach our guys is the how and the why. Last year we were teaching the how. This spring and summer, we're getting to the why."

In order to learn the "why" behind the scheme, Watson makes a point to teach from the defense's perspective.

"I always teach quarterback play from a defensive perspective first. I want them to know how a defense is put together. That's the why part. Why do we do what we do? Why are we trying to attack in this particular way? People forget that part. I start at the very beginning, and they have the whole summer, so now they can study defensive football and how it relates to opponents that we are getting ready to play, and also the management aspect of the game."

Watson says when different staffs come to visit, he wants to feel comfortable giving the floor to his quarterbacks teach it just like he would.

"If a kid knows why we do something or why something happened, that means it's in their DNA. If we had a visiting staff in here, my goal would be that they know this stuff so well that our quarterbacks could get up and articulate a play on the board and explain the how and why of what we're doing, and why it works, just the same as I would." Watson explained.

Video: What a successful HS camp looks like

Linfield College has hosted a first class football camp for the past 25 seasons, and it is highly regarded in the Northwest by high school coaches.

High school programs from Washington, Oregon and Northern California travel up to the northwest corner of Oregon to participate in the camp.

The video below shows highlights from their controlled scrimmages amongst a handful of other activities that make the camp such a hit.

"We drink twice as much Red Bull as any other staff"

Coaches' love of Red Bull, and caffeine in general, is well documented. You don't have to go too far at any given convention to hear stories about guys like Dana Holgorsen, Ed Orgeron and Todd Monken slamming Red Bulls throughout the day.

However, when North Carolina quarterbacks coach / offensive coordinator Blake Anderson was asked about things that are unique to Coach Fedora and the UNC program, he noted the tempo and music out at practice, the high energy coaches with their hats on backwards running around at practice, and the fact that they drink twice as much Red Bull as any other staff in the country.

Sounds like a challenge to us...

Money quote only:

Full interview:

NFL Network gets an early start on new show

The NFL Network has announced a new four hour morning show to start airing on July 30th devoted to bringing NFL news to fans year round.

The show will begin at 6 a.m. Eastern time...but will be filmed out on the west coast in Los Angeles. That means the show will get started at 3 a.m. Pacific time, and NFL Network executive producer Eric Weinberger expects the hosts to be in at about 11:30 p.m. to start prepping for the show.

Wow...talk about a rough sleep schedule.

The show, appropriately named "NFL AM", will reportedly have no shortage of content during the off season. In fact, according to Weinberger, one of the advantages of the schedule is the fact that the show can touch base with coaches "before they start their days".

"It's mind-boggling how much content is out there. How can you fill up four hours dedicated to the NFL every morning? It's surprisingly easier than it sounds." Weinberger added.

GA of the Day - Sam Williams (Vanderbilt)

Meet Sam Williams, offensive grad assistant at Vanderbilt. So, technically, he's not a GA; but when we hear so many positive things about a guy, we don't disqualify based on a technicality. 

Sam, as you will hear in the video, has a fascinating story...showed up at Vandy with the possibility of a D-1 job...only to have it not quite available yet. What did Williams do? He made it work; and as every guy in that building will tell you, he's got quite a future ahead of him.

Want to hear what James Franklin thinks of Williams (and offensive grad assistant Joey Orck)? Watch the first 15 seconds of this video...