FNF Coaches Talk — Split Zone Running, Gus Malzahn’s Attitude Adjustment, Heat Preparedness

FNF Coaches Talk

Welcome back, Coaches. Here are three stories for you as we start to prepare for the weekend.

1. Film Room: Breaking down the split zone running concept (State of the U)

Today we’re going to take an in-depth look at the split zone running concept. Split zone has all the benefits of counter without pulling a lineman or being married to the backside of the play. It’s also easy to tag RPO’s (run-pass options) with and comes easily equipped for play-action passing and naked bootlegs.

Just like base and inside zone read the play side tackle on split zone will have his man 1on1 just like the play side guard will. The center can jab the 1-tech while the guard picks him up (but must stay square). The center is aiming to block the strong inside linebacker while the back side tackle should pick up the weak inside linebacker.

The H wants to use his outside shoulder and thigh to pick off the defensive end, jamming them into his midsection and crotch, respectively. This keeps the inside open for the running back and the h-back’s inside arm free.

What type of defenses does the split zone read concept work best against?

2. From being more hands-on to relating more to players, Auburn has seen a ‘different’ Gus Malzahn (Montgomery Advertiser)

It’s funny how a second life can inspire a coach to change. Gus Malzahn was supposedly on the way out after a disappointing 2018 season at Auburn — or at least coaching for his job heading into a Bowl game against Purdue. Auburn blew out Purdue, and Malzahn kept his job.

Now, he seems eager to turn over a new leaf and coach on his own terms.

On the field, that meant more urgency. Players were motivated to move quickly from drill to drill during practice. Even the schedule was faster, as Auburn went from having three practices per week over six weeks (with spring break in the middle) to four practices per week over four. Malzahn was more hands-on during those practices, especially when it came to working with Dillingham and the four quarterbacks battling for the starting job.

Part of Malzahn’s concerted effort to change appears to be in his treatment of players. He’s making more of an effort to relate to them.

Off the field, some of the differences were as subtle as Auburn listening to music during the stretching portion of practice or before meetings. But that was something the Tigers hadn’t done in years past, Bryant said, and seeing Malzahn willing to blare Kodak Black, Meek Mill, Gunna songs through the speakers resonates with players.
The head coach even admitted he was a fan of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road, which he played for the team before a meeting near the end of spring practice.


In what ways are you hoping to change as a coach this offseason?

3. Most states rank poorly on heat safety for their high school football players (UConn — Korey Stringer Institute)

Here’s an important article for coaches — particularly those in the Southeast — to read as we move into the warmer months.

Heat stroke can occur in all states. But researchers studying student athletes, especially football players during summer workouts, see more of it in the East, and particularly the Southeast, where sweltering temperatures, high humidity and intense sunshine make for a trifecta of deadly risk, and where high school football is very popular. These weather conditions are only getting worse as the climate changes, bringing more heat and humidity.

One precaution coaches can take is acquiring a head stress monitor for practices.

Developed for the military, certain kinds of heat stress monitors now recommended for high school football practices take into account temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle and solar intensity instead of merely temperature. Heat stress monitors also go beyond the commonly used “heat index,” which factors in temperature and humidity to provide the “feels like” temperature numbers commonly used by forecasters and weather apps.

A second precaution — and one every coach should take — is making sure players are hydrated. Of course, the heavier the player, the more pads he’s wearing, and the higher the temperature and humidity, the more water a player needs to consume.

Hydration helps maintain blood flow to muscles, vital organs and the brain, and assists in sweating, which cools the body, Bergeron said. But in hot, humid weather, sweat does not evaporate very well. So people cannot release as much heat through sweating and are at greater risk for dangerously overheating. Well hydrated athletes can still overheat “if the activity is too hard, for too long, especially while wearing too much uniform and protective gear,” said Bergeron, the senior vice president of SIVOTEC Analytics, a sports technology and analytics company.

What precautions do you take to avoid heat-related illnesses at practice?