FNF Coaches Talk for Thursday, Nov. 15

1. Film breakthrough: How digital advances have revolutionized the scouting game for Texas high school football coaches (Dallas News)

Here’s a trend we didn’t know about. The Dallas News reports that only 62 percent of teams still scout opponents in-person. The rest rely on HUDL and digital video rather than assigning JV or middle school coaches to scout opponents from the press box.

Though the majority of local high school football programs still use in-person scouts, 38 percent rely mostly or entirely on video, according to a SportsDayHS survey with responses from 76 area coaches. Scouts have studied game tape for years, but recent developments, particularly through a software company called Hudl, allow coaches, teams and players to more effortlessly share, annotate and break down game tape.

One downside of not sending scouts to games: There’s no chance of stealing another team’s hand signals before the game. Often times, HUDL video includes from the moment the ball is snapped until the ref’s whistle signaling the end of a play, so a coach would not be able to see an opposing staff’s signals on film.

Some scouts try to decipher teams’ signals, though they can be difficult to decode. Nearly half of respondents in SportsDayHS’ poll said that they try to obfuscate their play-calling or signals either “somewhat” or “a great deal.”

What other advantages can be gained by scouting future opponents in-person?

2. South Dakota high school football: This is the craziest 2-point conversion you will ever see (Argus Leader)

I’m not sure if this is how the Canistota/Freeman coaching staff drew up this 2-point conversion attempt — one of the wildest flea-flickers you’ll ever see.

Austin Thu’s attempt for a sweep of the right side appears to be stopped for no gain, before he improvises by pitching the ball back to quarterback Trey Ortman, who rifles a pass to a wide-open Bailey Sage for 2.

Give credit to the Canistota/Freeman players for recognizing the game situation and understanding the upside for attempting this highlight-reel play far outweighs the downside of taking a big loss or turning the ball over on a 2-point attempt.

How do you communicate situational football to your players to make sure they are making smart plays?

3. Talent. A Football Scholarship. Then Crushing Depression. (New York Times)

This story is about a college athlete struggling with depression, and it’s an important story for coaches at every level to consider. Isaiah Renfro, a top freshman wide receiver at the University of Washington, seemingly had everything going for him when he attempted to take his own life.

Nearly 25 percent of college athletes who participated in a widely touted 2016 study led by researchers at Drexel University displayed signs of depressive symptoms. Since that percentage is roughly in line with the general college population, the findings countered a long-held belief that athletes are less likely than their peers to become depressed — largely because they benefit from regular, emotion-lifting exercise.

Just because a student-athlete is big, strong and tough on the field doesn’t mean he’s not struggling off of it. Get to know your players, their backgrounds, and how they’re feeling about their lives outside of football.

After Renfro left the University of Washington, he got his second chance at football through Bruce Barnum, the head coach at Portland State. Barnum was just the guy to lift Renfro at a time when the player needed it.

Barnum had a keen sensitivity to the emotions of his players after two of them died in 2016: one from an overdose and another from a complication after a tonsillectomy. That same year, a player’s child was killed in a car accident.

How do you make yourself accessible to players who might be struggling with mental health issues?

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!