FNF Coaches Talk for Oct. 17

Let’s get right to it, folks. Here are some of the stories we’re talking about in the newsroom.

1. A NJ coach whose team is on the playoff bubble canceled practice so his players could participate in a 5K for the hungry (The Marisa Tufaro Foundation)

Here’s a story that actually reminds us of our cover story for the October/November edition of FNF Coaches on Plant (Fla.) coach Robert Weiner cancelling the first week of preseason practices so that his team could volunteer at a Muscular Dystrophy Association Camp.

In the case of this story, Edison High (N.J.) coach Matt Fulham canceled his team’s weekly Saturday film session and practice so his players could partner with The Marisa Tufaro Foundation on a community service project that benefited Middlesex County children in need and their families.

“On the verge of qualifying for the playoffs, Edison would have benefited from an extra day of preparation for an upcoming game against J.F. Kennedy, which the Eagles likely need to win to secure a postseason berth.”

Marisa Tufaro, who would have been a sophomore this year at Edison High School, died last year at the age of 13 following complications from a heart transplant. Several of Marisa Tufaro’s former classmates participated in the Race to Outrun Hunger. As a student at James Monroe Elementary School, Marisa Tufaro collected nonperishable food items for the Hands of Hope Food Pantry. Thus, Saturday’s event had special meaning for The Marisa Tufaro Foundation, whose mission of helping children in need throughout the greater Middlesex County area coincides with that of the food pantry..

In the video, you can see Coach Fulham address his players and exude great pride in their decision to help with the fundraiser.

Would you consider canceling a practice for a charity event in the midst of a playoff push?

2. ‘I don’t want to end up brain dead’: How concussions affect football in Delmarva (Delmarva Now)

Don’t be confused by the headline, which makes this story sound a little more ominous than it is. This story has promising stats on how concussions are decreasing on teams in the Maryland/Delaware area due to better practice habits and strengthening exercises.

“Across the United States, participation in both youth and high school football is rapidly decreasing, according to data from the National Federation of State High School Associations. But the number of football players has increased in Worcester and Wicomico County, according to data. Over the last three years, participation has increased 9 percent in Wicomico and 26.4 percent in Worcester.

“Coaches can’t seem to pinpoint why an increase is taking place on the Shore, but it doesn’t reduce their time spent on trying to make the sport the safest it can be. Many Delmarva football coaches work throughout the season on proper tackling techniques, specifically to cut down on the risk for potential injury.”

The story is quick to note that preventing concussions entirely in the game of football is not possible. But there are ways to reduce them through educating coaches, parents and players as well as building strength and coordination in players.

“Coaches, officials and parents have the ability to attend seminars and training sessions to discover ways to tell if their child is displaying concussion symptoms. The organization also sends out forms and have established a rule that if a player shows any sign of a head injury, they’re pulled for the rest of the game.”

What steps are you taking to reduce concussions in your program? Do you need more education on concussion safety?

3. Football finds its rhythm as Chip Kelly’s training tactics start paying off (Daily Bruin)

Here’s a story on Chip Kelly, who hasn’t had a great run at UCLA, but is arguably the most influential coach of the last 10 years when it comes to influencing game strategy and practice philosophy at the high school level. How many high school teams nowadays stress the importance of maximizing the number of reps in practice? How many high school teams run uptempo offenses so as to minimize opportunities for the opponent to substitute personnel or even catch its breath? How many high school coaches embrace the importance of nutrition and sleep? Chip Kelly was ahead of his time in all of those respects.

Now, Kelly is experiencing his first dose of success at UCLA — coming off a big 37-7 win over California last weekend. And his coaching philosophy is once again getting the credit.

“Kelly’s system has straightforward benefits – the faster the practice, the more reps everyone gets, and the coaches can obtain more data to assess various personnel groups. And the players appreciate the conditioning bonus, too.”

The story does a nice job of describing the effects an uptempo offense can have on the opposing defense.

“Without the requisite physical and mental energy, the defensive linemen can’t get off their blockers, the linebackers miss tackles and the defensive backs take wrong angles or commit unnecessary penalties.”

Have you made the switch to an uptempo offense? What were some of the challenges you encountered?

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!