FNF Coaches Talk — Does Tech Create a Competitive Advantage? Coach Changes Scheme Mid-Season, Black QBs and Expectations

Welcome back, Coaches. We’ve got today’s stories for you.

1. Football programs that adopt cutting-edge technology may have a competitive advantage. Is that unfair? It depends. (Kenosha News)

We hear this from coaches at every level — and really every sport. The teams with the big budgets have an unfair advantage. Certainly, it helps to have money to spend on technology and analytics, and that’s particularly true at the college level where there is such a discrepancy between the big-budget schools in the Power 5 conferences and the mid-majors.

But the reality of this modern athletic age is far more nuanced than that.

The sports teams at schools that pioneer these technologies may be the first to benefit from the advantages they could bring. But early adopters also run the risk of wasting time and resources on technology that ends up not being effective or beneficial. For instance, researchers have questioned whether those expensive cryotherapy chambers benefit recovery.

Technology could end up helping balance some inequities between schools by improving recruiting. Potential college athletes might seek out a school with a multimillion-dollar sports lab because they think it will help them improve their skill set, keep them healthier — and help them go pro. Investing in technology could help a lesser-known or smaller school recruit more elite high school athletes.

Yet some top high school athletes might prefer an old-school approach that focuses on fundamentals, which might give colleges that haven’t invested in advanced technology an unexpected recruiting advantage.

How do you balance incorporating new technology with sticking to the fundamentals that are the bedrocks of your program?

2. Iowa coach changes scheme from run-first offense to spread in one week, leads team to title (Sioux City Journal)

We all try to run a scheme that showcases our best players’ strengths, but very few of us change on the fly at mid-season.

OABCIG (Iowa) head coach Larry Allen did just that at the start of the 2018 season after spending the majority of his lengthy coaching career relying on a solid rushing attack for the team’s offense.

Allen made one of the biggest decisions in his 21 years as a head coach. He scrapped his running attack and after working with assistant coach Tony Napierala, the Falcons switched to a spread offense in a manner of a week.

The next big decision came before the start of the 2019 season. After switching to the spread offense, Ladwig, who is now on the Morningside football team, threw for 3,027 yards and 32 touchdowns. His favorite target was Cooper DeJean, who caught 66 passes for 1,023 yards and 12 touchdowns, which led to a spot on the All-State team.

With Ladwig’s graduation, OABCIG needed a new quarterback. The decision was simple for Allen. DeJean was a middle school quarterback for OABCIG but the Falcons didn’t run the spread then. Still, Allen was confident DeJean could run the system.

DeJean went on to pass for 3,546 yards and 42 touchdowns and he ran for 1,292 yards and 24 touchdowns. He was a first-team selection in Class 2A on the All-State team.

What is the biggest decision you had to make regarding your team this season?

3. Black quarterbacks in the NFL are changing the dreams of middle-school boys (The Undefeated)

The stigma surrounding black quarterbacks has changed over the years thanks to the efforts of NFL legends like Warren Moon, Steve McNair, Donovan McNabb and — more recently — with Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. Aspiring athletes – and their parents – see the door opening to a position that was once off-limits.

In recent years, an increasing number of young black quarterbacks have become convinced they, too, can make it to the NFL. They are among the leading college performers, more visible atop the recruitment lists put together by high school scouting services, and a growing presence at quarterback training sessions that groom future stars, like this one in Alpharetta.

As some parents sheltered from the rain under a tent with a marketing executive selling a high-tech helmet, the young athletes warmed up at the start of a group class led by Quincy Avery, one of the nation’s hottest quarterback gurus. His sessions are aimed at honing footwork, throwing mechanics, and other basic skills that must be mastered by every big-time quarterback.

“The success of black quarterbacks in the league is changing the perception of young black quarterbacks and what they think they are capable of,” Avery said. “They now know if they are good enough, they will get the opportunity to play quarterback.”

How has the success of black quarterbacks in the NFL changed the expectations of players for the position?

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