Hail to the Redskins!

I have to admit to my excitement this morning when I noticed views of my blog several hundred ticks ahead of where it normally would sit at that time.  After some investigating, I found out that my blog, specifically my series on defensive game planning, had been referenced by the Washington Post’s The Insider blog.  Mike Jones and Mark Maske, who are NFL reporters for the Post, write the blog. Here is the reference: 

Around the Web:

For anyone who’s ever wondered how a defensive coach assembles a game plan, youcandomore.net has a whole series on the thought process behind it. This particular link is to the call sheet, how a coach picks what works against the opponent’s best plays in certain situations each week, and has them handy so he can call his defense in a matter of seconds.

post insiderYou can see the post and their blog at this link – The Insider, and follow their twitter feeds at @mikejoneswapo and @markmaske .  They have a ton of good NFL information, especially concerning the Redskins.

Hail to the Redskins! 

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Defensive Game Planning – Flipped Coaching

As a coach and teacher, I have a continuous, internal dialogue that takes place.  Time is at a premium, and it is inflexible, so whenever I am contemplating adding something else to my plate, this internal conversation begins.  I try to figure out the balance between doing something that may be really cool and the latest thing, with the kind of impact it will have on instruction.   There are a lot of really cool ideas that I come across… just about daily.  The trick is figuring out (due to time constraints) which cool idea(s) will have the biggest bang regarding instruction for the amount of time spent:

Instruction Bang/Time Invested

The bigger the bang, with less time invested, the better.

This is critical when it come to your weekly meeting, prep, and practice time in season… when you are formulating and teaching your weekly game plan.  Today I want to regress a little, and go back to the Weekly Workflow schedule that I discussed last week.  I believe there are a couple of ways to tweak this schedule, utilizing technology to “flip” your meeting time and practice time.

Flipping” the classroom or practice field refers to the concept of using technology to flip the traditional classroom/ meeting time; using online, shared content to provide student-athletes with learning opportunities traditionally reserved for classroom presentations, freeing up that time for more in-depth, hands-on learning opportunities.

Coach Keith Grabowski writes on this topic today with his post, “Flipping the Classroom (Flipped Coaching)”, which previews his upcoming American Football Monthly article on the topic and has links to all of his posts on the subject.

I have written a number of posts on the topic as well and links to most of them can be found at my post, “Flipping the Practice Field

Looking at our Weekly Schedule for defensive game planning, I believe there are three areas that we will be able to effectively implement technology to flip our meeting and practice time:

  • Daily Scripts – Emphasis
  • Position Group Reminders
  • Position Group Tests

Daily Scripts

As discussed in my post, Defensive Game Planning – Weekly Workflow, we have an emphasis for each day of the week:

  • Tuesday – 1st Down, Second Down, 3rd and Short
  • Wednesday – 3rd and Medium, 3rd and Long, XL, Goal Line
  • Thursday – Gadget, Review All

On each of those days, we put together our script, pulling directly from Hudl, plays that our opponent has run in those situations, adding our Front/Stunt and Coverage to the script.  In the past we have used these scripts for three purposes :

  1. To print so our staff knows the plays/calls during team time
  2. We print scout team cards via Hudl directly from the script
  3. Occasionally we review the video after practice.

We already pull this script and make a Play List on Hudl each of these days.  The logical next step is to have the expectation that each of our players will have watched and studied this Play List, on their own device, as many times as they want, prior to practice time.  This should reinforce daily what our emphasis is, and give our players an idea prior to practice what those plays and formations look like, what fronts/ stunts/ coverage we will be running, and ultimately should speed up their reaction/ recognition time when practice actually begins.   This addition has a huge upside regarding the Instruction Bang/ Time Invested formula.  The only additional time investment is making sure the script is completed and Play List posted on Hudl in time for your players to study prior to practice.  Your team time vs the scout team offense will be filmed, and you can evaluate that film after practice.

A sample Tuesday video might look something like this – In this sample I just give the intro and run through a few plays… the actual script video from Hudl would be 20+ plays long depending on the day of the week.

Position Group Reminders

As part of our Friday routine at the University of Central Missouri, we gave everyone in our position group a written sheet with reminders for that week.

Linebacker Reminders

An effective way to reinforce this information would be to attach a video clip and make a screencast (see my post Making a Screen Recording) of those situations.  The expectation would be to review these reminders, both written and video, prior to Friday’s meeting.

Adding the video reminders may increase slightly your prep work time, but I believe the learning benefits will pay off.  The student athlete would be able to access the video on their own device, and review at their own speed.  It incorporates many different learning styles, including audio cues, visual diagrams, straight text description, and game video.

Here is what a sample reminder segment might look like.

Position Group Tests

As part of our Friday routine, we also gave written tests to our position group.

lb test

Adding an interactive AV segment to the test would be efficient and productive.  As a coach you could put together a screencast of a video test, with your players completing the written portion on their own prior to Friday meetings, or … even better… take meeting time, and create a truly interactive quiz as Coach Grabowski explains in his post, “On Edge Coaching Pt. 2 and another app”.

A “take home” video test question might look something like this:

A few considerations when implementing “flipped” practice techniques:

  • The video does not have to be perfect… if you stress about making the perfect Cecil B. DeMille production every week, you will drive yourself crazy.
  • The video does not have to be long – A quick 5 minute video that the student-athletes can replay as many times as they want can be very effective
  • The more you can make it cross-platform, the better.  If your student-athletes have to physically go to the library and sit in front of a computer, the less likely they will be to watch the video.  They are used to watching and interacting with their phones… try to use a system that can be viewed on their own device… their phone.
  • Many schools are moving to a 1:1 philosophy, where every student will have their own device to receive instructional content.  If your district is moving in that direction, you are in business.
  • If you are truly interested in incorporating technology into your teaching and coaching, you need to follow Coach Grabowski’s blog (Coach and Coordinator) and follow his Twitter feed – @CoachKGrabowski… it is the best stuff out there regarding coaching and technology.

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Defensive Game Planning – All Posts, Forms, and Video

Let me start by thanking Coach Keith Grabowski of Baldwin Wallace University for the kind words in his post today, Follow Up: Advice to young coaches taking on a (Defensive) Coordinator Role.  His previous post on this topic (Advice to young coaches taking on a Coordinator Role) was geared to the offensive side of the ball, but most of his advice is applicable to ALL coaches, young or old, offense or defense, coordinator or position coach.

I have had several additional questions, and a few requests regarding the Defensive Game Planning series.  I will try to take care of those items today.

mag coverSeveral coaches have requested for access to all the posts and attachments in one place.   I will attempt this using a couple of different methods:

First, if you have the app Flipboard on your mobile device (it is available for iPhone or Android, but is optimized for iPad), I have put all of the Defensive Game Planning posts in a Flipboard “magazine” that can be downloaded at this link:


Flipboard Defensive Game Planning Magazine

A second option – here is a link to every post, followed by links to all of the forms that I have referenced in the series:

Forms and Videos in this series:

All of this information will be included in an iBook that I hope to complete within the year.

If there is another way you would like this information delivered, just let me know and I will try to accommodate.

Tomorrow I will talk about some ideas on “Flipping” your meeting time when prepping for your opponent.

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you… Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Defensive Game Planning – FAQ’s

faqI have received some questions regarding the Defensive Game Planning process I have detailed over the last few days.  The answers to these questions (as well as questions I was asked when giving this presentation in person) will also encompass my planned topic for today, game adjustments and tweaking the process to fit your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What about the first game of the season?  How do you have a large enough data sample to determine any tendencies?

Planning for first few games of the season has always been the most angst-ridden time for me.  As I have mentioned more than a few times, I like things to be based on hard data, and I am not very good at doing things “off the cuff”.  Typically, the game plan for the first couple of games will have to be the most flexible and may need adjusting “on the fly”.  Still, a solid plan can normally be developed.  You probably will have a couple of things at your disposal that will help you put together, at minimum an outline of a plan:

  • Game plans from previous years vs that opponent
  • Jamboree or Scrimmage film that can be exchanged and broken down.

Although both of these sources will be fairly skeletal, it will at least give you an idea of formations, plays, and routes to prepare against.  As the game develops, you can use the game day procedures that I discussed in yesterday’s post (Defensive Game Planning-Game Day Procedures) to develop a list of calls to use during the game.  Part of this will be you using your knowledge of your defensive scheme and personnel to attack the opponents offense… for example, what is your best defensive front to stop a strong side Power run play?… What is your best coverage to use against a trips formation… and so on…. As you see what plays they are running, and having success with, you will need to draw on your experience and expertise to counter with your best front/stunt/ coverage calls against those plays.

What it your opponents runs something you have not game planned against?

Good!  Your game plan is based on what your opponent has demonstrated they like to do.  If your opponent is doing something that you have not seen, it probably means that they cannot, or do not believe, they would have success doing those things against your defense.  It will mean that you have to adjust your game plan (see above) but you are forcing your opponent to do something they probably do not have the confidence, or experience running.

What about offensive personnel packages… do you do anything with that information?

Yes, there have been times that an offense’s personnel package has been a clear indicator of formation and/ or play intent.  If we notice that during our film breakdown process our opponent has definite tendencies based on personnel, we would develop a list of calls based on these personnel groupings.  Typically we use the same process as we did developing the Ready List, and add a section of calls, based on personnel grouping, to the Call Sheet.  At the very least, recognizing personnel groupings will give you a head start while making the defensive call during the game; you will be able to anticipate what formation they will be running, and should have a good idea what plays they like to run out of that formation.  You can then adjust your call if needed using that information.

Personnel groupings, Down and Distance, Field Zone, Formations… will all normally give you some key indications as to what an offense’s intentions are for that play.  It is up to you each week to determine which of these will be the best indicator(s) of their intentions.

What if a team does not have any tendencies?

While it is true that some opponents you play will have stronger tendencies than others, I have never seen a team that didn’t have ANY tendencies.  If you give me enough data, and enough time, I will find their tendencies.  It is also true that the more balanced a team is, formation wise, down and distance wise, run-pass wise, field-zone wise… the more difficult it is to game plan against them.

What about automatic checks… do you ever use those?

Yes, if we see that an opponent has a very strong tendency in a particular formation, or using a particular motion, or with a particular personnel package, we often will have an automatic check built into the game plan for that week.  The check will normally be a fairly aggressive call with a Defensive Front, Stunt (possibly a first and second level stunt), and Coverage build into it that we have determined will be “money” against what they have shown in that situation.

I don’t have a full defensive staff that can do the process that you outlined… what suggestions do you have for me?

Although I do believe the process works best with a full staff working (especially developing the Ready List), I have actually used the same procedures putting together a defensive game plan with only me and an additional coach doing the lions share of the work.

Do you ever use information from previous years games against the opponent when developing the game plan?

Yes, there are a number of uses for your previous years game plans…that is why I have game plans saved for every opponent over the last 20 years or so!  Typically when I was at the University of Central Missouri, we broke down our own game from the previous year against our upcoming opponent.  We would not always include the information when running the information for the scouting report.  We would examine how similar they were to the previous year:

  • Did they have the same head coach?
  • Did they have the same offensive coordinator?
  • Did they have the same personnel … how much did graduation affect them?

If they had not changed appreciable in these areas, we might include this breakdown data in our report.  At the very least, it will probably be a good overall indication of what your opponent will attempt to do offensively.  I was often amazed how similar some offenses were from year to year… even with different personnel.  Often the Formation Analysis and Play Grid of an opponent barely changed from year to year.

If you have any other questions, just comment here or shoot me an email… I will respond!

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, all of the posts on Defensive Game Planning will be compiled in a free iBook which will be available by the end of the summer.

Previous Posts from the Defensive Game Planning series:

Tomorrow, some thoughts on “flipping” the game planning/ practice process.

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

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 – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Defensive Game Planning – The Call Sheet

The final goal of the entire game planning process is to assemble the tool to be used on game day, the Call Sheet.  As I mentioned in my first post on this subject (Defensive Game Planning – Genealogy) the following concepts were the driving force behind the development of this tool:

  • I am not particularly good at doing things “off the cuff”…
  • I like to be organized
  • I like things based on data
  • I needed a tool that could be used effectively during the “heat of the battle” on game day.

The Call Sheet that we developed while at the University of Central Missouri checked all the above boxes.  This tool was adapted for our use by ideas we learned from long time Eastern Illinois Defensive Coordinator, John Smith (see post on Genealogy)

I normally began my work completing the Call Sheet on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning (Saturday game) and spent several hours of work trying to get it right.  This process involved using two documents we had already completed as a defensive staff.

The Ready List (see post on the Ready List)

Ready List1

The Play Grid (see post on the Play Grid).

Play Grid

When I begin work, I have a printed copy of those two documents in front of me, with a blank Call Sheet to write on.

I typically begin with the box 2A on the Call Sheet, which includes all the plays that our opponent’s offense has run on 1st and 10 from the 20-49 yard line.   This normally is the box that has the largest sampling of plays in it.

On each box of the call sheet (beginning with box 2A) I want to come up with 3 Defensive Calls;

  • A call that is fairly vanilla (which depends on the down and distance and field zone).
  • A 2nd call that is a little more aggressive – normally involving a First Level Stunt
  • A 3rd call that is a sic ‘em call – normally involving a Second Level Stunt or a combination of First and Second Level Stunts.

To arrive at the calls for each “Box” on the call sheet, I look at the Play Grid to see what plays the offense is running in those situations.  I then look at our Ready List to see what Front/ Stunt and Coverage we decided as a staff would put our personnel in the best position against these plays.

When looking at the 2A box in the sample Play Grid from my previous post, you can see the following.


  • 22 Run plays vs 2 Pass plays
  • Iso is the most frequent play at 10 times
  • 67% Run overall in this field zone (Row 2 – 20-50 yd line)

So when consulting the Ready List, I would want to see what Front/Stunt would be very good against the Iso, but also good against Toss and Trap.  On the Ready List as a staff we have already determined that the defensive Front 31Sh (31 Short) is good against both Iso and Trap, so it becomes the first call in the A2 Box.

Iso Trap

A slightly more aggressive call which we determined would be very good against the Iso is 40 Sh- Sp Pn (40 Short, Split Pinch), so it is the second call in the A2 Box.

40 sh sp pn

The third call, a very aggressive sic ‘em call, 31 Sh – Tg Pn Sp – Wk (31 Short, Tight Pinch Special, Whack) includes both a first and second level stunt and is one our defensive staff decided would be very good against both the Iso and Trap.

31 sh pn dp wak

The completed A2 Box on the Call Sheet would look like this

calls A2

From the box 2A, I typically move up and do 1A, then down and do 3A, then complete the rest of the A (1st and 10) boxes after that.  I work my way across the Call Sheet in the same manner.

sample call sheet

Some Call Sheet considerations:

  • If a box does not have a very large sampling of plays in it, I normally look at the box above or below to see what they are doing down and distance-wise, and assign calls based on that data.  I also will look at any overall tendencies they have shown, either Down and Distance or Field Zone, to help guide my call selection.
  • Some Down and Distance/ Field Zone situations (boxes) call for more aggressive calls, even the “vanilla” or first call in the box… often as the offense moves closer to your goal line.
  • You can see that on the sample Call Sheet, a bracketed number precedes some calls.  This number corresponds to the call that is on our wristband that week.  Instead of signaling in the call, we can simply signal the corresponding wristband number to our personnel on the field.  We eventually evolved (partly in response to quick tempo- no huddle offenses) to putting ALL the calls from the Call Sheet on the wristbands.
  • When determining the calls in each box, I try to select the BEST calls against the most frequent play in that situation, but also what would be GOOD against all, or most of, the plays, in that particular situation.
  • When completing the Call Sheet, I try to immerse myself in a “Game Day” attitude… I try to “play the game” in my head as I am putting the calls in each box.
  • At the bottom of the sheet adjustments to special situations are noted, and calls for special situations are copied so they can be easily located.

When the call sheet is finished, you have a tool that has roughly 132 calls on it…

  • In every Down and Distance/ Field Zone situation, you immediately have 3 calls at your disposal.
  • Every call can be made in confidence because it is based on hard data from your opponent’s tendencies.
  • Every call can be made in confidence because it is the result of hours of meeting time with your staff.

You can download a blank copy of the Excel Call Sheet by clicking on the following link: Blank Excel Call Sheet, or just clicking on the picture below.

Blank Call Sheet

The brief video that follows describes the Call Sheet.

The previous posts in the Defensive Game Planning series are:

Tomorrow – Using the Call Sheet  – Communication and Game Procedures.

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Defensive Game Planning – The Play Grid

The next step in the game planning process is completing the tool I call the Play Grid.  This is an Excel worksheet that includes every play we have broken down from our opponent’s film.  It is a single page document that gives me an at-a-glance look at what our opponent’s tendencies are by down and distance, field zone, or a combination of both.  I like to have the Play Grid completed at least one day previous to beginning work on the Call Sheet – Tuesday or Wednesday (see previous post – Defensive Game Planning – Weekly Workflow) in a collegiate prep week.

I will ultimately use the Play Grid in combination with the Ready List (see previous post – Defensive Game Planning – The Ready List) to make the Call Sheet that is used on game day.   I print the completed Play Grid on the reverse side of the final Call Sheet.

Play Grid

When you look at the Play Grid the vertical columns displays all the plays they have run by down and distance.   For example, this, the A column, shows all the plays they ran in 1st and 10 situations.

Down Distance

The horizontal rows show the plays they have run in the different field zones.  For example, this, the 1 row, shows all the plays they ran backed up, from their own goal line to the 19-yard line.

Field Zone

The box where the columns and rows intersect show all the plays they have run in a specific Down and Distance and Field Zone situation.  For example, this, the A1 box, show all the plays the opponent has run on 1st and 10 plays from their own goal line to their 19 yard line.


The data used to enter into these cells is easily retrieved using Hudl (or any other data base software) using the Down and Distance report.

Hudl D and D

The only plays that you need to run a custom report is to get the XL plays for the H column, rows 1-4.

When I enter the plays in each “Box” on the Play Grid, I enter the plays in order of frequency, with the number of times they ran it.  I enter all of the Run plays first, followed by the Pass Plays.  I put in the Pass Plays in italics to delineate them.  I usually also “tag” the Pass Plays with the Pass Zone they were trying to attack.

In addition to entering the plays in each of the boxes on the Play Grid, I also enter any significant Down and Distance tendencies for Columns A-H, and any significant Field Zone tendencies in Rows 1-6.  Generally I consider any percentage over 66% significant.  I will use this information when completing the Call Sheet and as a quick reference on game day.

You can download a blank copy of the Excel Play Grid by clicking on the following link: Sample Excel Play Grid, or just clicking on the picture below.

blank grid

The brief video that follows describes the Play Grid.

The previous posts in the Defensive Game Planning series are:

Tomorrow – The Call Sheet

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Defensive Game Planning – The Ready List

The Ready List is the list of fronts and stunts that we believe will be the most successful against our opponent’s top run and pass plays.  We have already determined what those plays were, and all the tendencies associated with them based on our film breakdown and formation analysis work (see yesterday’s post – Defensive Game Planning- Film Breakdown and Offensive Analysis).  We also have a good idea what blocking schemes they would employ to attack our front.  Now it is a matter of trying to put our personnel in the best position possible position through front alignment or stunt movement to be successful against those plays.

The process of putting together the Ready List is the most important part of the game planning process.  It takes the most meeting time, and is critical in developing a good Call Sheet.  The entire Call Sheet that will be used on game day is based on the Ready List, so taking all the time necessary to get this piece right was imperative.  This included all the meeting time putting together the Ready List, as well as all the work previous to provide us with accurate data.

While at the University of Central Missouri, the defensive staff meetings developing our weekly Ready List were some of the most “spirited” meetings we had… in fact the more “spirited” the better. They were completely “open”, meaning all discussion/ ideas were discussed.  A valuable lesson that I learned from the Defensive Coordinator that preceded me (Mike Foster) was that it did not matter whose ideas that we ultimately used on the Ready List, as long as they were the best ideas.

To develop the Ready List we go through each of their Top 5 Run plays, one at a time.  We draw the play on the whiteboard, out of the formation(s) they like to run it out of, keeping in mind tendencies (Strong/Weak, etc) that are associated with it.

Ready List4

We then draw up each of our defensive Fronts against the play, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each Front.  This is where the process became “spirited”, with each coach discussing what Front would put their players (knowing their strengths and weaknesses) in the best position to defend the play.  We are fairly multiple, so this takes some time.  Ultimately, we want to end up with a consensus on what our best 3 Defensive Fronts would be against that play.  We then repeat this process with the rest of their Top 5 Run plays.

Ready List3

 I want to emphasize a key word from the previous paragraph – Consensus.  While at UCM, although there was often much discussion, at times fairly heated, when we left the room we were always in agreement that these Fronts (and the next stage Stunts) were the ones that put our players in the best position to be successful.  We could argue all we wanted (and was actually an important part of the process) behind closed doors, but once we went out to our players, we ALWAYS were on the same page… we had each others backs… ALWAYS.

After we have gone through each play and decided on our best Defensive Fronts against them, we then go through the same process with our First (DL and DE) and Second (LB and DB) Level Stunts against those same plays.  We draw up the play on the whiteboard, just as before, out of the formation(s) they liked to run it out of, keeping in mind tendencies (Strong/Weak, etc) that were associated with it.  We draw up the play against the first of the 3 Defensive Fronts we have decided on, then discuss and diagramed what First Level Stunts (out of that Front) would be good to employ.

Ready List2

We then go through the same process with Second Level Stunts (out of that Front).  We go through the same procedure (adding Stunts) with each of the other Defensive Fronts for that play.  We then go to the next of their Top 5 Plays and added the second level stunts to each of the Defensive Fronts we had assigned to them.

Ready List1

By the end of this process (normally several hours meeting time) we have a list of possible fronts and stunts that we have confidence will be successful against their Top 5 Run plays.  This list was based on hard data (see Post – Defensive Game Planning – Film Breakdown and Formation Analysis) and the culmination of many good defensive minds (who have a good handle on their respective position groups strengths and weaknesses) sharing their thoughts.

Although we always included the entire staff in this process at the collegiate level, often times in high school, because of added duties (having a full teaching load with various schedules) the same procedure could be done with just the defensive coordinator (or any other available staff) completing the Ready List.  I firmly believe, though, that the more people you can involve in the meeting… the more Storming-Norming-Performing that takes place, the better the Ready List that is produced.

We also include any notes, adjustments, and special situations that came to light during analysis and discussion on the Ready List.  The DB coach and I (LB coach) go through a similar process looking at coverage for each run play, and the best coverages to use against their pass schemes.  The DL coaches add what the best pass rush Front/Stunt combination is against the pass protection schemes we were anticipating.   All of this is part of this important step in the Defensive Game Plan process – preparing the Ready List.

You can download a Word document of a sample ready list by clicking on this link:  Sample Ready List, or just clicking on the image below.

Sample Ready List

The following is a brief video that further explains the process of using the Formation Analysis to develop the Ready List.

Previous Posts in the Defensive Game Planning Series:

Tomorrow – The Opponent’s Play Grid 

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Defensive Game Planning – Film Breakdown and the Formation Analysis

I had a question after yesterdays post (Defensive Game Planning – Weekly Workflow) about the timeline we used to disseminate the scouting report information to our players.  Let me take a moment to discuss this.

When we first began this process of defensive game planning, we had ALL of the scouting report information ready to be handed out on our initial meeting on Monday afternoon.  We eventually changed our thinking on this, and began only distributing the printed information for the situations that we were focusing on for that day.  We provided players with a “Game Plan Folder” and gave them the following printed information at morning meetings each of these days.


  • Goals
  • Outlook
  • Player Profile
  • Analysis


  • 1st Down
  • 2nd Down
  • 3rd and Short
  • Coverage
  • Pass Routes


  • 3rd Medium
  • 3rd Long
  • XL
  • Goal Line


  • Front/ Stunt
  • Wrist Band
  • Gadget


  • Position Group Reminders
  • Position Group Test

We found this to be more effective for several reasons:

  • They received information daily, in smaller bites, which made it easier to digest.
  • It focused the meeting attention and discussion on the emphasis for that day.
  • It allowed us as coaches to get a better handle on the information before delivering it to the players.  We also found we had less changes than when we tried to have everything ready at our Monday meeting.
  • I will have a post at the end of this series with ideas on how to “flip” ( see post Flipping the Practice Field) the meeting time with your athletes.  I think distributing in small chunks lends itself to “flipping” your meeting time.

The film breakdown process we used was not revolutionary and is probably the same procedures you all use in your program.  We had, as most coaches do today, access to all the game film on our upcoming opponent that we wanted to use.  We used the following criteria to determine what games to break down and enter in our computer analysis.

  • We always wanted a minimum of 4 games, which normally was enough plays to get a good sampling in all down and distance situations and field zone areas.
  • We looked for games that they were playing against teams that ran a similar defensive scheme in order to get a better idea how what blocking schemes and pass routes they would employ.
  • We looked for their most recent games.  Often offenses evolve during the course of a season as players improve and injuries occur.
  • We looked for their closest contests.  We always felt the plays they ran in situations in those games gave a better indication as to what their tendencies would be in the heat of the battle.  If they got too far ahead or behind, that would have a tendency to skew the data.  At times, we only put in partial games if this (lopsided score) came into play.

The better data on your opponent that you put in, the more accurate picture of what their actual tendencies are will emerge.

We tried to have all of the opponent film broken down by Thursday or Friday of the week preceding the game.  The whole staff worked on this, with the exception of me as defensive coordinator.  Thursday was my day (see Defensive Game Planning – Weekly Workflow) to finish the actual Call Sheet for our upcoming game, and I did not want to muddle up my thinking by watching a different opponent.  I wanted to make sure my focus was completely on our upcoming game.   On Sunday, we exchanged Saturday’s game (that we just completed) with our upcoming opponent.  If it met the criteria I outlined above, we broke it down and entered the information into the computer.

After all the information was entered into the computer, we began assembling the Formation Analysis, which details our opponents top run and pass plays, their formations, and any tendencies they have for each.  It provides a quick snapshot to our players and coaches as to their overall tendencies.

Hudl makes it easy to get this information.  We always tried to synthesize it down to a single sheet to give our players.  You can download a sample of what we distributed by clicking on this link:  Formation Analysis, or just clicking on the picture below.

formation analysis

You will need to decide if it is worth your time compiling all the information on a sheet like this.  It is very easy to just copy and print the reports that you can generate via Hudl, and may actually be just as good and a more efficient use of time to do that.

The Formation Analysis will list their Top 5 Run plays based on frequency, and any tendencies we have (Strong/ Weak, Wide/Short, Left/Right) for those plays.  It also shows their top Pass Types (Drop, Quick, Roll, Action, etc) and tendencies we have determined for those.  We list and diagram their top formations, the plays they run out of those formations, and any formation tendencies (Strong/ Weak, Run/Pass) that we have determined.

The Formation Analysis forms the basis of our game plan strategy.  We will game plan, both in scheme and dedicating practice time, to stopping what our opponent has shown they want to do; the plays they want to run, out of the formations they want to run them out of, in the direction they want to run them to.

Tomorrow – The Ready List.

The previous posts in this series:

A special Shout Out and Thanks to Tim McGonagle at Kansasprepfootball.com for linking to this blog.  There are MANY great links and a wealth of quality information about football on the Kansas side of the state line on his site… Just click on the link above (or the image below) to visit his site!

ksprepfb Small Web view

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Defensive Game Planning – Weekly Workflow

During the season the work of our defensive staff revolves around two main goals.

  1. Developing a game plan specific to the offense of our opponent that week
  2. Implementing the game plan.

The implementation involved two pieces.

  1. Assembling the tools that we would be using in our upcoming game (The Ready List and the Call Sheet)
  2. Teaching and practicing this Game Plan with our athletes.

This work schedule was organized for use with a full staff – 5 coaches, but the same process could be used with just one or two people doing the work.  I have used essentially this same process with only two coaches completing the assigned work.  The attached schedule is also set up for a college football workweek, with the contest being played on Saturday.  It could also be adjusted, with everything being moved up one day, for a Friday contest.

You can download an Excel version of this chart by clicking on this link : Defensive Weekly Work Schedule, or clicking the picture below.

Weekly Schedule

The accompanying chart breaks down daily

  • What the main emphasis is
  • What we would be working on as an entire defensive staff
  • The scouting report information that would be disseminated.
  • What we would be covering in our individual position group meetings
  • What the practice emphasis is.

It is important to note that everything is “synced” … what the daily emphasis is and what we talked about and distributed information about during meetings, was what we worked on in practice that day.

Saturday – Game Day


On Sunday our staff graded our previous game video, (see Film Grading Tool) broke down the game that our opponents played the previous day, and began studying our opponents by watching most of the games that they had played.  On Sunday, our defensive line coaches began dissecting the blocking schemes of their top run plays, and our DB coach and LB coach (me) did the same with their pass game. On Sunday, we did not meet or practice with our players


On Monday we wanted to be prepared to talk to our athletes about our opponents personnel, their schemes, and any adjustments that we anticipated making out of our base 4-3 package.  Our Monday defensive staff meeting was focused on beginning the “Ready List by determining our best fronts against their top 5 run plays (more on this process later in the week). In our defensive team meeting, we would talk about our goals from the previous game and introduced our upcoming opponent.  We would hand out the week’s outlook on our opponent, their personnel profile, and the formation analysis. We also would give out our position specific film review sheets that we asked our players to complete as they watched video during the week.  Monday’s practice was typically fairly light, with emphasis on improving specific position group problem areas (based on Film Grading Tool) and introducing the upcoming opponents top 5 run/ pass schemes.  Normally this was done in a walk through tempo.


Our defensive staff meeting on Tuesday would be focused on completing the Ready List by adding first and second level stunts to the fronts we were anticipating using against their top 5 run/ pass plays.  In the meeting with our players, we would distribute the sheets and watch film detailing what our opponent’s tendencies were on choice downs (1st down and 2nd down) and also 3rd and Short situations.  These sheets diagramed the plays they ran in those situations, with the blocking schemes we were anticipating.  It also gave the frequency of each play, and any other tendencies we had for those plays (strong/ weak – wide/ short, etc) Tuesday’s practice (and script) would be dedicated to these situations as well.  Hudl makes it very easy to view film and set a script (and export it to Excel, with scout cards) for these situations to use during our practice team time.  I will detail this process later this week.  You can download an Excel file of a Tuesday practice script by clicking on this link : Sample Tuesday Practice Script, or clicking on the picture below.



By Wednesday, our Ready List was completed, and as coordinator, I would begin work on the actual Play Grid and Call Sheet (more on this later in the week).  In our meeting with the players, we would distribute the sheets and watch film detailing what our opponent’s tendencies were on 3rd and medium (4-7 yard to go) 3rd and long (8-10 yards to go) and all XL situations (over 10 yards to go).  We also would work against their goal line offense.  Wednesday’s practice (and script) would be dedicated to these situations as well.  You can download the Excel version of the sample Wednesday script by clicking on this link : Sample Wednesday Script, or clicking on the picture below.

script sample


By Thursday the Play Grid and Call Sheet would be completed.  We also would have what calls would be included on the wrist band for that week, and those would be distributed to the players.  Meeting time with our players would focus on reviewing front and stunt combinations that made it to our call sheet and talking about (with hand outs and video) any “gadget” plays that our opponent ran.  Thursday’s practice would be a review of all Down and Distance situations, including any gadget plays that we had seen.  We also would practice a 2-minute situation, often against our own offense.


In Friday’s meeting with our position groups, we would hand out our position group reminders, and administer our position group tests.  Friday’s practice would include a review of all Down and Distance/ Field Zone situations, and also a “Blitz on Barrels” going through all of the calls (on air vs barrels) that made it to the wrist band for that week – normally 20 calls, but that number could be increased depending on the type of wrist band you use.  We also went through a team script reviewing all special situations.

Tomorrow I will describe our film breakdown process and the division of labor.

As always, questions and comments are welcomed.

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com