I’ve read this line a few hundred times since I got into coaching: a head coach isn’t prepared until his third year. I learned that this past season a few times over. I’ve had to remove players from the team, deal with unstable parents, coach up coaches, and even let a coach go.
When I took over in January, I knew exactly what scheme I wanted to run at my opponents and why. We were going to be an I team and run a pro style offense, mainly to pound the ball at teams more prepared for the spread. Being a defense-first coach, I thought about offense from a mindset to hurt the defense instead of to play to our own strengths. The offense was designed around our athletic QB, deep stable of tailbacks, and bruiser FB.
Then the spring game ended and summer began. We lost 3/4 of our RBs, including our senior FB that was going to carry the load and I stalled on making a change. But we’re a new charter school and as fast as we lose kids I was hoping we would gain new blood. Once late August came around we had two tailbacks but no real FB. I stalled to make a change some more. I finally had my young coaching staff on the same page, I didn’t want to lose them by re-writing the playbook.
Needless to say, we hardly moved the ball in our first two games and needed to re-think the situation. So I took a simple offense and made it even more simple, tweakable, and versatile.
In my football dictionary or encyclopedia, versatile means that we don’t have to worry about having a FB, or a TE, or a QB that can run and throw. We can let the chips of charter school lottery systems and transfers fall where they will. I imagine private schools have some of the same issues in this economy. For better or worse, we have a lot of turnover at our school. So what changes did we make?
1) We went from the I to the spread. If we went “21” it didn’t necessarily have to be a true FB.
2) We got our athletic QB more time and space in the gun.
3) We simplified our blocking schemes. We left gap blocking behind for 3-4 more zone based plays.
4) We had a TE, so we kept him in the game using 21 and 11 personnel instead of 10. But if he transfers out we can easily switch to 10 this off season and our offense won’t miss a beat.
What this offered us was the ability to have both S-Backs (tailbacks) in the game at the same time whether we were 21 or 11 by splitting the H out into the slot. When our starting S quit mid season our H moved to S and had some huge games (200+ all purpose yards) by being able to spread out wide or be in the backfield.
By going to a zone scheme we could interchange OL without losing too much because of how easy our zone is to teach and execute (OZ is reach not pin/pull).
We took our playbook and cut it in half. From Iso, dive, toss, trap, midline, counter, power and speed to IZ, OZ, speed, dive, and counter.
Our pass pro didn’t change a whole lot, but it got easier going from half-slide to full slide with BOE protection.
Were these changes full proof? No. We won 0 games after making 100% adjustments, and won 2 games after making 50% of them, however, our players played faster and were more competitive against tougher competition.