FNF Coaches Talk — Spring Transfers, Saban’s ‘Poor Mes’, 7-on-7’s Impact

Good afternoon, Coaches. Here are three stories for today.

1. It’s time for spring football practice and the transfer game at high schools (Los Angeles Times)

High school football spring practices used to be about coaches taking a look at players from lower-level programs while installing their offensive and defensive schemes for the new season.

Now that spring has become “transfer season” in high school football, spring practices have become unofficial tryouts, welcoming transfer students while seeing which returning players are going to stay or leave when the competition gets tough.

One trend we hadn’t heard about is that some players will transfer again in June depending on how the competition for their jobs shakes out in the spring.

It’s gotten to the point where playbooks need to be written in pencil or put on the web with a password for access because, depending on who wins the quarterback job, a security update could be required.
This spring is a particularly sensitive time for teams with multiple quarterbacks competing for a starting job, because the losers have been known to scatter come June 1.

What that means for spring practice is that everybody gets a chance to play because if a coach showcases his projected starters more than other players, those depth players might transfer in search of starting roles with other programs.

If you attend a spring passing tournament, teams have wisely figured out that they need to play multiple quarterbacks or they may be left with just one — and no one wants to go into a season with a single quarterback for a sport in which injuries are expected.

In what ways have player transfers impacted your spring practices?

2. Recent Alabama practices feature opponent prep, ‘Poor mes’ (Bama OnLine)

We’ve all had those days at practice when drumming up energy and emotion is like pulling teeth. Nick Saban had one of those days at practice last week, and … we’ll let him explain it.

“Today, every now and then, as a coach you feel like people get the ‘Poor mes.’ If you know what the ‘Poor mes’ are, they’re exactly what I said. ‘Poor me, my leg hurts. Poor me, my shoulder hurts. Poor me, it’s hot out here today. Poor me, I don’t feel like practicing. To me, I’m not big on the ‘Poor mes.’
“I like people not to do what they feel like doing but to choose to do what they need to do to get better, and that has been very, very good all spring. Today, it could have been better. I think practice went better as we went. We need to keep working on that.”

Saban also talked about the fine line between over-coaching in practice and allowing the players to learn on their own. He always erred on the side of providing feedback to each player after the end of a play, but Bill Belichick chewed him out as a member of the Cleveland Browns staff because he didn’t allow players to learn from their own mistakes.

“So, we actually do stuff in practice now and we do team … I make the coaches get off the field, make the calls and let the players play. And when you get in the scrimmage then they’re more ready for the scrimmage because they’ve got to go out there and execute and make own calls and do things on their own. So, that’s the next step of guys being ready to contribute and play. It’s different to be able to do it in practice than it is to be able to do it in the game.”

How do you generate enthusiasm and learning opportunities for your players in practice?

3. How Seven-On-Seven Football Turned Texas Into a Quarterback Factory (Texas Standard)

Seven-on-seven distills football down to a single element: the passing game. There’s no blocking, no tackling, no kicking, no running the ball. And the reason seven-on-seven made California quarterbacks so good is that while you’d be hard-pressed to find a tackle football league outside the fall, you can play seven-on-seven all year long.

Texas added a 16-team tournament in 1998, which turned into a statewide phenomenon. Hundreds of schools of all sizes compete annually for the state title.

The style of play you see during seven-on-seven tournaments has spilled over to “Friday night lights,” with schools moving on from the physical, running style of Gage’s teams in the 90s. Instead, the idea is to spread out, go fast, and most importantly, throw the ball. It revolutionized high school football in Texas, and gave the state a reputation as the quarterback factory of the 21st century. Colleges across the country caught the passing bug too, and snapped up Texas quarterbacks who could deliver what they needed.

How has the rise of 7-on-7 impacted the game you see played on Friday nights in the fall?

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!