Welcome back, Coaches. Here are some stories we’re discussing in our newsroom.
1. The Legend and the Myth of the Halftime Adjustment (Sports Illustrated)
This story starts with a great anecdote about how the Penn State coaching staff went into halftime of its 2016 Big Ten Championship game against Wisconsin down 28-14 and struggling to attack the Badgers’ Cover 3 scheme.
The Penn State coaches met, and decided there weren’t a lot of options on the playsheet to defeat Cover 3. So, they called up their library of plays on a computer and found a double-post route that was specifically designed to attack Cover 3. They called that play early in the second half, and here is the result.
While some legendary halftime adjustments are referenced in this story — like Nick Saban’s decision to switch from junior Jalen Hurts and sophomore Tua Tagovailoa in last year’s National Championship against Georgia — most coaches and players reported that halftime adjustments are somewhat overrated.
Halftimes are structured virtually the same at every level of college football. Usually in a secluded area, offensive and defensive coaching staffs hold separate meetings of about five minutes while players A) use the restroom, B) eat, C) receive medical attention or D) do all of the above at the same time.
Coaches — What is your process for making adjustments at halftime?
2. FILM STUDY: BELICHICK’S PLAN MOSTLY TAMED MAHOMES (National Football Post)
If you watched the first half of the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, you could see the Patriots blitz Patrick Mahomes on just about every possession while playing man coverage. National Football Post digs a little deeper into coach Bill Belichick’s game plan to determine what worked.
The Patriots planned a ball-control offensive approach to bleed time and keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands. That couldn’t have gone better, as Mahomes didn’t touch the ball until the 6:50 mark of the first quarter and had just three possessions before halftime (besides one snap 21 seconds before the break). The Chiefs finished with just 47 plays, exactly half of the Pats’ total.
Belichick also attempted to take away the Chiefs’ most explosive player, Tyreek Hill — just as the coach often starts his game plan by deciding which opposing player he will try to minimize.
The fourth corner — Jonathan Jones and Keion Crossen alternated, perhaps to stay fresh against the speedster — tracked Hill underneath while free safety Devin McCourty bracketed him over the top, essentially leaving Cover-0 everywhere else.
What is the first thing you try to take away against an explosive passing offense?
3. Coaches Corner: Three keys to keep high school football players engaged in the offseason weight room (MaxPreps)
Chris Fiore has a story on a topic relevant to all high school coaches at this time of year. Like many coaches, he recommends charting strength gains and tracking all lifts throughout the offseason.
I think the first key to motivating your team and teenagers in the weight room is keeping very good charts on their growth and increases. There are some apps out now that do a really good job, but I think being able to give kids immediate feedback on their growth is very important.
Another common theme we hear from coaches: Create competition in your offseason program. No, there isn’t a scoreboard providing feedback each Friday night, but you can still drum up some inter-team competition by measuring percentage gains — so as not to reward the strongest players all of the time.
Another idea is to break your roster into small groups to compete against each other. They can collect points during the off season for different things like growth in the weight room, grade point average, being on time to class. There are 100 different ways you can organize an offseason competition.
What is one tip you’d give coaches who are having a tough time with participation numbers in the strength program?
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!