FNF Coaches Talk — Football’s return, Mike Leach’s practice drill, Dartmouth’s example

FNF Coaches Talk

Happy Friday, Coach! We hope you find happiness this weekend in some form or fashion.

1. High school football being played across country with mixed results during global pandemic (Maine Press Herald)

The decision to play, suspend or cancel high school sports this fall — particularly high-contact ones like football — is fiercely debated across America.

More than a dozen states suspended football this fall, including California, Colorado, Maryland and Illinois because of safety risks. But others, like Utah, Alabama and Texas, pushed ahead to play during the global pandemic. At least 20 states will see high school football games played this season. Some of them have seen schools cancel games because of the coronavirus, including in West Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Utah and Texas, among others.

Utah became the first in the country to play high school this season, when games kicked off three weeks ago.

Some high school football coaches in Utah say safety protocols in place — including contact tracing and the quarantining of COVID 19-positive players for a week — have helped. So, too, have other safety measures, including face coverings for the limited number of fans in attendance and daily temperature checks for players and coaches.

“It’s week by week. I can tell you I’ve lost a lot of sleep,” said Matt Rickards, who coaches Kearns High School in Salt Lake City  “I’ll get phone calls where it’ll be like ‘Hey coach, my brother and sister are sick, they’re going to get tested.’ … Every weekend and every Monday, I’m just dreading it because I don’t want to get that text message. … We’ve got to be extra careful. We were already, but now it seems like the stakes are a little bit higher. We were telling our kids, stay away from crowded areas as much as you possibly can. Our season’s on the line.”

Read the entire story about COVID’s impact on high school football.

How much are you monitoring the return-to-play plans in other states?

2. Dartmouth Is the Blueprint for Football’s Success in 2020. Yes, Dartmouth. (Wall Street Journal)

We’ve done quite a bit on the Dartmouth football team through our friends at MVP Robotics.

Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens came on our podcast and shared how he eliminated live full-contact periods from his team’s practices and it resulted in fewer injuries and more wins.

New rules for the pandemic scale back the full-contact practices. Dartmouth made its players healthier—and better—by doing just that.

Now, the coronavirus pandemic has forced Bill Belichick, Andy Reid and every NFL coach to follow the lead of Buddy Teevens. This season’s player safety protocols ban padded practices with full contact in NFL camps until Aug. 17, three weeks after players first report.

It’s a contentious restriction for the same reason Dartmouth’s strategy was such an outlier in 2010 and still is today: For as long as players have run with an oblong-shaped ball toward a patch of grass called an end zone, coaches have believed the most effective way to prepare players is by practicing with the same physicality as in a game. Anything less has been rebuked by purists as sacrificing the quality of the sport in the name of safety.

Read the entire story about Dartmouth’s example.

What’s different about the way in which your team is practicing this season?

3. ‘Lift off:’ Mike Leach starts Mississippi State football practices with this drill (Clarion Ledger)

We all have our favorite drills to start practice. Mike Leach apparently likes Bull in the Ring.

When you line up five yards across from your opponent enclosed in a circle by your booming and bellowing Bulldog teammates, it’s almost impossible not to take on the mindset of a bull. There’s only one thing on your mind.

After the whistle blows, be the last man standing.

“Everything about it is just staying low and beating the person in front of you,” Crumedy said.
Sometimes, though, there isn’t a clear-cut winner. Crumedy and Pendley, both of whom weight over 300 pounds, grappled to what Crumedy called a draw during their recent foray into the ring.
“It was a good matchup,” Crumedy said. “He stayed low and gave me a great fight. In the end, we both felt good about what we did.”

Read the entire story.

What is your favorite drill to start practice?

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