I 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 – firstname.lastname@example.org