FNF Coaches for Thursday, Jan. 3

FNF Coaches Talk

Good afternoon, Coaches. We hope you’ve kept your resolutions through the first three days on 2019. Here are some of the stories we’re discussing in our newsroom.

1. How the combination of high school offenses and 7-on-7 has changed football forever (Yahoo Sports!)

Would you believe the offense you see NFL quarterbacks like Pat Mahomes and Baker Mayfield running these days was brought to life by a high school coach. Baytown Lee High School (Texas) coach Dick Olin brought the Air Raid offense to high school football in the mid-1990s.

Olin was able to perfect the offense through 7-on-7 scrimmages — back before seemingly every team was playing in summer tournaments.

After Olin installed the offense at Baytown Lee, the school had winning seasons from 1994-2003, turning out quarterbacks like Arkansas’ Clint Stoerner, Kansas State’s Ell Roberson and Iowa’s Drew Tate, Olin’s stepson. And he wanted a way to refine that offense. A 7-on-7 football tournament, Olin thought, would be a good way to help his players stay sharp in the offseason.

Soon after Olin thought of the idea, Texas started a 7-on-7 championship tournament.

In 2007, the state tournament split into two divisions. A third division was added in 2018 and teams throughout all three divisions have to win their state qualifying tournaments just to make the main 64-team bracket. Seven-on-seven football is played with no offensive or defensive lines. Games are 21 minutes long. Players wear helmets, but no pads. Defenses can score by forcing turnovers. Quarterbacks have four seconds to throw and receivers are down when touched by a defender. The game’s rules mean receivers’ quickness and ability to make plays in space are at a premium, as is quick-decision making by quarterbacks.

Coaches — What is the biggest benefit of 7-on-7 tournaments for your program?

2. Trick plays are now ‘the norm’ in NFL playbooks, and they’ll be on display this postseason (Washington Post)

Have you noticed the uptick in trick plays in the NFL? Trick plays — or what were once considered trick plays — and other offensive oddities became so prevalent they started to seem not like tricks at all, but rather a normal part of NFL offenses. In a season overflowing with offensive creativity, trick plays became perfectly normal.

Of course, the Philadelphia Eagles may have sparked the trend in last year’s Super Bowl, when Nick Foles caught a pass from Corey Clement for a touchdown.

“Philly Philly” launched a new inclination for trickeration. This season, not counting fake punts, 24 non-quarterbacks attempted a pass, and nine of them threw touchdown passes — including Giants wideout Odell Beckham Jr., who threw two. Last year, 13 non-quarterbacks threw passes and just two of them went for touchdowns. There were 117 players other than quarterbacks and running backs who rushed the ball this year, compared to 93 last season.

Teams ran trick plays on just 6 percent of their snaps in both 2017 and 2018, so it’s not like coaches are flushing out their typical playbooks. However, they are building in more options in the playbook for coaches who are looking to give the impression that trick plays are coming. Rams coach Sean McVay is one of those coaches.

Behind McVay, the Los Angeles Rams remain the team most reliant on fly sweeps. Rams wideouts Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks combined for 29 carries this season, and the benefit shows up even when they do not get the ball. The Rams use motion on almost every play, and it makes the simplest designs more effective.

How will you account for the uptick in trick plays in 2019?

3. The early results of instant replay at Texas High school football championships and the UIL’s plan for the system moving forward (Dallas News)

This is the first year that the University Interscholastic League has used instant replay for high school football, and the early returns are not so favorable. Instant replay was only used for the 12 state championship games from Class A to 6A that were played at the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium. All 10 of the 11-man state finals were televised on Fox Sports Southwest or Fox Sports Southwest Plus, which provided 12 camera angles.

Former FNF Coaches Coach of the Year Randy Allen of Highland Park (Texas) was not impressed with the system.

“I think it took way too long,” Allen said after Highland Park won its third consecutive state championship by beating Alvin Shadow Creek 27-17. “I didn’t like it, because we thought we scored and our receiver thought he scored and the official [on the field] thought he scored, but instant replay determined we didn’t score.”

The last game of the Texas high school football season ended with a replay review.

Galena Park North Shore and its fans had to wait until replay officials confirmed that a Hail Mary pass on the final play of the game would stand as a touchdown — which was the original call on the field — before they could celebrate a stunning 41-36 victory over Duncanville.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, Texas is one of four states using instant replay for high school football, along with Minnesota, New Jersey and Alabama. Alabama became the first state to use it for regular-season games — with participation optional for members of the Alabama High School Athletic Association — and AL.com reported that the initial cost was $3,000 for schools to purchase the replay system.

What are the pluses and minuses for using instant replay in high school games?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk!