FNF Coaches Talk — Toughness Over Analytics, Jeremy Pruitt on Play-Calling, Saban-Belichick HBO Special

FNF Coaches Talk

Good afternoon, Coaches. We’ve got some good ones for you today.

1. Forget analytics, where did the toughness go? (Cumberland Times-News)

This writer takes to task the West Virginia football staff for its reliance on analytics when — in his opinion — the team would be better served focusing its attention on playing with more toughness.

West Virginia has no fewer than four analysts listed on the coaching staff.

With those assets at his disposal, when you ask head coach Neal Brown during Monday’s Big 12 coaches conference call for his analysis of the run game in Saturday’s 20-13 victory over James Madison University, you expect some deep insight into the art of running the football.
But what did you get?
“It’s got to get better,” he said.

The Mountaineers struggled to the tune of 24 carries for 34 yards against James Madison.

While we would argue that great football teams possess a good mix of toughness and smart decision-making and training techniques that can be derived from analytics, this writer sees it as more of a black-or-white issue.

In the end, football comes down to blocking and tackling, not computer numbers, not trick plays, not nutrition, sleep monitoring or indoor practice facilities so you don’t get wet or cold.
Football is knocking the other team down.
You are as good as your toughest man and as bad as softest man and that goes for linebackers and kickers. The unpraised, unnoticed star of Saturday’s game was kicker Evan Staley who made an unassisted tackle on a kickoff.

How do you feel the reliance on analytics has affected the way in which coaches value toughness?

2. Jeremy Pruitt explains how defensive play calling works in 2019 (A to Z Sports Nashville)

Delegating play-calling responsibility is always a difficult thing to do for a head coach, particularly one who made his name as a coordinator. Jeremy Pruitt fits that description. He came up calling plays under Nick Saban at Alabama before taking the head coaching job at Tennessee.

Pruitt turned over play-calling duties to his defensive coordinator, Derrick Ansley, this year, although the head coach maintains that he’ll have the right of last refusal.

We’re all for having a series of checks and balances, but do wonder if there will be time for Pruitt to reject calls and put it one of his choosing with so many uptempo offensive attacks in the SEC. The impetus for the change appears to be that Pruitt didn’t have time to study the opposing offense’s tendencies in-game while juggling the responsibilities as head coach.

Pruitt pointed out that defensive coordinators typically look over every play from the opposing offense after a series. As a head coach, Pruitt doesn’t have that luxury.

What is your philosophy behind head coaches calling plays on game day? Can it be done effectively, or should the HC delegate the responsibility?

3. Teaser: Belichick & Saban: The Art of Coaching (HBO)

We all love talking about coaching football, and there is nothing better than listening to the best in the business talk about it. Here’s a teaser for an HBO production set to air on Dec. 10.

If we didn’t subscribe to HBO, it would be enough to get us to pull out the credit card. We can’t wait for this one.

Which coaches inspire you to be better at your job?

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!