FNF Coaches Talk — Film Study of Top Kickoff Coverage, Chip Kelly’s Assistant Saves Lives, Photographer of the Year

FNF Coaches Talk

Welcome back, Coaches. We hope you’re having a good Monday. Here are some stories we’re discussing today.


Many of our state high school athletic associations have tweaked the kickoff rules in the last couple of years to improve player safety. Many of you also know they tweaked kickoff rules at the NCAA level last spring.

In April 2018, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved an alteration to the game’s kickoff procedure. For the first time, a kickoff would result in a touchback if a returner calls for and makes a fair catch inside the 25-yard line.

Though the Buckeyes had been a top-10 unit the season prior in terms of average yards-allowed-per-return, there had been issues with the unit’s execution. The team allowed a pair of touchdown returns and saw seven more kicks land out of bounds, while only 12 of 104 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks that fall.

Here’s a look at how they covered kicks.

Kickoff specialist Blake Haubeil averaged only 60.5 yards-per-kick, meaning his aiming point was often the opposite 5-yard line.

While OSU’s opponents regularly decided to simply take the guaranteed field position, recording 35 fair catches, they were goaded into attempting a return 33 times. Doing so, however, usually proved to be a mistake.

2012 20.77 52nd 1
2013 18.39 12th 0
2014 17.24 8th 0
2015 16.26 3rd 0
2016 18.92 30th 1
2017 17.41 10th 2
2018 14.91 2nd 0

In what ways has your team’s kickoff strategy changed due to rule changes?

2. Chip Kelly calls ex-assistant after life-saving tackle. They talked technique (San Francisco Chronicle)

Friday afternoon in Portland, Ore., a student walked into a high school classroom and took a shotgun out of his long, black trench coat.

The student with the shotgun at Parkrose High was tackled and wrestled to the ground by the school’s football coach, Keanon Lowe. He is a former wide receiver at Oregon and a former 49ers assistant coach.

Lowe was escorting a student to the principal’s office when he saw the student with the gun. The coach instantly tackled the student and held him.

“I’m not surprised, that’s the type of person he is, and I don’t think he really hesitated in the situation,” said Chip Kelly, the UCLA football coach who coached Lowe at Oregon and had him on staff as a low-level assistant when Kelly coached the Philadelphia Eagles and the 49ers.
Kelly phoned Lowe on Friday after hearing the news.
“I wanted to know his (tackling) technique,” Kelly said. “He told me it was like when he was on kickoff coverage, it really didn’t matter how you tackled ’em as long as you got ’em to the ground.”

Kelly recruited Lowe to Oregon when Lowe was a defensive back at Jesuit High in Portland. Kelly left Oregon before Lowe’s senior season — he would share the honor of most inspirational player, as voted by his teammates — then hired Lowe when he graduated. After two years under Kelly, Lowe took the coaching job at Parkrose High. A bottom-rung job.

Parkrose High is as far as a football coach can get from glamour. Lowe left an NFL job to take over a team that was on a 23-game losing streak when he signed on two years ago. He also coaches the track team.

“These are good kids who have gone through a lot and don’t have a lot given to them,” Lowe told Oregonian columnist John Canzano after taking the job. “They’ve had to earn everything in their lives. I wanted to come back here and give back, and get better at the profession I want to do. … I want to help change the culture, not just the football team but the entire campus.”

What is the most selfless thing you’ve done for your players this year?

3. Will Gold Wins FNF Coaches Photographer of the Year (FNF Coaches)

Manhattan High (Kan.) team photographer Will Gold has been voted the winner of the 2019 FNF Coaches Photographer of the Year Contest. Gold received almost 29 percent of the vote among 15 finalists in an online vote hosted by FNF Coaches between May 1 and May 16.

Gold’s photo of Manahattan tailback Kevontae McDonald churning through the line of scrimmage on his way to a touchdown captures the perseverance and determination that is on display each and every Friday night during the high school season.

Gold will be featured in the summer edition of FNF Coaches, as will his winning photo. Congratulations to Will, and thanks to all who took the time to participate.

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!