Defensive Game Planning – Game Procedures

This post will guide you through game day procedures, using the tools that have been discussed in the previous Defensive Game Planning posts.  Links to all of these posts are at the end of this post.  All of this information will also be included in an iBook that will be available by the end of the summer.

Game day procedures can be broken down into several major pieces – Communication, Data Check, and Offensive Analysis.  To take care of these tasks, I have organized my defensive staff in a number of ways on game day; ultimately it boils down to what your priorities are, and what the skills of your staff are.  Ideally, if you have an adequate number of coaches on your staff, I would recommend having 3 coaches up in the box, and 2 (plus yourself) on the field.

I know many defensive (and offensive) coordinators like to be up in the box during the game because the view is much better, but I always like being on the field… mainly to serve as a stabilizing force during the contest.  The defensive coordinator is the face of the defense, and I believe it is important for the players to see that familiar, confident face.  It also speeds the communication/ call process, allowing you to get the defensive front/ stunt / coverage to the field more quickly.

Press Box- Spotter

Quick, correct, succinct communication is vital from the press box to the field during the game.  I will have headphones on, and will be in direct communication with my coach who is the Spotter in the box.  At the conclusion of every offensive play (or at the beginning of an offensive series) he will immediately communicate to me the Field Zone and Down and Distance to me using only the corresponding letter (A-H for Down and Distance) and number (1-6 for Field Zone) from the Play Grid/ Call Sheet.  Initially NOT communicating Down and Distance and Yard Line using normal terminology (for example “2nd and 4 on the 32 yard line”) is a hard habit to break.  I do NOT need to know that information… it is easy for me to see.  What I need to know immediately is from what box on the call sheet … Letter-Number… I need to pull my call from.  Communicating D & D and yard line is wasted time… and every second counts.

The Spotter in the box will also record the following information.  He will record the call that I make (normally the number from the wrist band) on this sheet, and record the result of the play on the following Film Call sheet.  You can get the Excel document of the Film Call Sheet by clicking on the following link:  Sample Film Call Sheet, or just clicking on the image below

film calls

The spotter is on the phones with me, so he is the one that can hear what call I am communicating to our Signal Coach on the sideline.  We will use this sheet for the following purposes:

  • We will transfer the calls to the film grade sheet (see post Film Grading Sheet) that we will be using the next morning
  • We will use the information for our Defensive Efficiency report (see post Becoming a Stronger Coach in the Off Season)
  • I will use the form to self check my calls during the game… how many times I am making a call?, are there calls that have been very effective?, are there calls that have been very ineffective?

Press Box- Data Check

A second coach in the press box will have two forms.  One is the Play Grid (every coach will get a copy of the Play Grid/ Call Sheet, Ready List, and wrist band calls) and the other is the Play Analysis Chart .

The Data Check coach will record on the Play Grid, in the correct Box (Letter-Number) the actual play that the offense runs.  If it is a play that is already listed in the box, he will simply make a tally mark on that sheet beside the corresponding play.  If it is a play that they had not run in that situation before (therefore it is not listed in the box), he will record the play in the corresponding box on the Play Grid.

Play Grid

The second form that he will use to record information on is the Play Analysis Chart.  On the form I will already have printed their top plays (from the Formation Analysis) both run and pass type.  He will record, simply using tally marks, if they run the play Strong or Weak, Wide or Short, Left or Right.  You can download a the Excel file of the Sample Play Analysis sheet by clicking on the following link:  Sample Play Analysis, or just clicking on the image below.

play analysis chart

By analyzing the information from these two forms (comparing it to the Ready List and Play Grid), either during the half or when our offense has the ball, we will be able to see if they are keeping with same tendencies that we determined prior to the game:

  • Are they running their top plays?
  • Are they running the plays in the same Down and Distance/ Field Zone situations?
  • Are they running the plays in the same manner (Strong/Weak, Wide/Short etc.)?
  • Are they running the plays with the same frequency?

Press Box – Offensive Analysis

The third coach in the box will be given a list of specific things to look for, based on our discussions during the week.  He is an extra set of eyes in the sky.  Some things this person often looks for:

  • Are they blocking their plays the way we thought they would?
  • Are there personnel issues… mismatches… either in our favor or against us… that we need to address?
  • What is happening at the point of attack?
  • Are their personnel groupings staying the same?
  • Any suggestions for calls based on what you are seeing?

On the Field – Signal Coach

On the field beside me will be the coach used to signal in the defensive call.  We have the capability of signaling every Front/ Stunt and Coverage that we have in our playbook, but typically will signal a number that corresponds to a call printed on their wristband.  If we are using calls that are on the wristband, we have a binder with large, laminated numbers (from 1-40) that corresponds to the calls on their wristband.  The coach will simply flip the binder to the call that I have given him and show it to the defensive personnel on the field.

On the Field – Defensive Coordinator

As mentioned previously I will be continuously communicating with my Spotter in the press box.  As soon as he gives me the Box (Letter-Number) I will look at the calls in the corresponding Box on my Call Sheet, and decide (quickly):

  • Do I want to use the calls in this box?
  • How aggressive do I want or need to be?
  • Which call of the three to use?
  • Then communicate the Call to the Signal Coach.

In between series I will be on the phones, getting the information from the coach doing Data Analysis.  I will be determining if they are holding to their pre-game tendencies. If they are keeping with their tendencies, I know that my Call Sheet should still be effective.  If they are going away from their tendencies, I know that I may need to make some adjustments with my calls.  If this is the case, I will consult the ready list to see what Front/ Stunt/ Coverage combinations I should consider to combat what they are now doing.

Tomorrow I will talk about making game day adjustments and tweaking the game plan process to meet your needs.

The previous posts in the Defensive Game Planning series are:

Jeff Floyd –

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