FNF Coaches Talk — Notre Dame’s Strength Gains, Tulane’s ‘Football Junkie’ OC, Rule Proposal to Replace Onside Kicks

FNF Coaches Talk

1. Matt Balis Is Taking The Notre Dame Football Strength Program Viral (UHND.com)

When Matt Balis was hired to replace Paul Longo as the Notre Dame strength coach in 2016, there was the usual hype. Every strength coach vows to come in and change the program, and you can always find videos of the team working out the following spring.

Three years later, Notre Dame’s gains have been obvious on the field, and the Fighting Irish are now having some of the top gains at the NFL Combine.

Coaches — It’s not a bad example to show your players for offseason motivation. Want to win more games? How about better individual performances and a better chance to play college — or even pro — ball?

Where do you see the most immediate gains when a player commits to the strength program?

2. Meet Will Hall, a ‘football junkie’ ready to start calling plays for Tulane (Nola.com)

Many of us have come across “The Coach’s Son” somewhere in our coaching careers. These kids have the football brains. Maybe they are your quarterbacks who see things at the line of scrimmage that are well beyond their years. Maybe they are calling the signals on the defensive side.

But they have a football head on their shoulders, and they become an extra coach on the field.

Tulane offensive coordinator Will Hall is one of those former players.

Inside Hall’s office at Tulane are multiple NFL playbooks from when Sean McVay called plays for the Washington Redskins and Kyle Shanahan did the same for the Atlanta Falcons. He has another binder with plays Josh McDaniels has called for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. His study of the New Orleans Saints has been confined mostly to watching video, although Hall figures to meet Sean Payton at some point so he could learn more about the offense that helped make Drew Brees the career passing yards leader.

It may not be unusual for an offensive coordinator to study plays from Sean McVay, Kyle Shanahan or Josh McDaniels. But it’s a little unusual that the same offensive coordinator was calling out Nebraska’s midline option plays to the weak side at the age of 11 or 12.

Buddy Duke, who coached offensive line for Bobby Hall at Amory High through much of the 1980s and into the 90s, remembered how Will Hall was 11 or 12 years old when he noticed how Nebraska unconventionally ran midline option plays to the weak side, which was something Amory never did — all their midline triple-option calls went to the side where the tight end was aligned.
When the midline play is run toward the tight-end side, the quarterback reads the defender in the middle of the line to decide if he should run between the center and guard. If he doesn’t, his next option is to run around the end. When that happens, the strong-side tackle kicks out toward the sideline and the tight end folds behind the tackle to seal off the oncoming linebacker.
What Hall saw on television was something different. The Nebraska alternative had the quarterback going toward the weak side. Without a tight end there to block the outside linebacker, the tailback would cut into the opening left open by the tackle for a block.

In what way do you empower players with coaching aspirations to pursue their dreams?

3. Broncos Propose This Unique, Innovative Alternative To Onside Kicks (NESN)

The Denver Broncos recently proposed a new alternative to onside kicks to the NFL’s competition committee.

Denver’s proposal would give teams trailing in the fourth quarter an extra opportunity to score. The losing team would have one chance per game to stay on offense if they are able to complete a fourth-and-15 attempt from the 35-yard line as opposed to kicking an onside kick.

This new idea is similar to a rule in the Alliance of American Football. In the AAF, teams are allowed the opportunity to convert a fourth-and-12 from the 28-yard line if they are trailing throughout the game by at least 17 points, or are trailing in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter.

The league’s competition committee is expected to meet at the end of March to finalize its plans for 2019. New proposals need the approval of at least 24 owners to pass.

Would you be in support of a rule that gives teams an option besides an onside kick to retain possession for two offensive series in a row?

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!