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  • Penn State is using Spring ball to recreate, and learn from critical 2014 game situations


    For a handful of years now, the insanely popular Madden video game series has had a mode where you can go back to the previous season, or close games in the previous week, and take over a team to try and recreate the outcome with your own unique spin. Sometimes it’s scoring the go ahead touchdown with Peyton Manning with 37 seconds left and 80-yards in front of you, other times it’s stopping Tom Brady in the red zone with the game on the line.

    Take that last play in the Super Bowl for example, instead of calling a pass play on the one yard line Madden allows you to plug yourself into that exact situation; down 24-28 as Pete Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks with the opportunity just turn around and hand the ball off to Marshawn Lynch instead for the easy winning touchdown to knock off the Patriots (or you could always throw the ball over the middle…your choice). Changing the outcome effectively gives you the feeling that you’ve somehow changed the course of football history – except you really haven’t at all.

    James Franklin and his  staff are doing something similar with their Spring practices at Penn State, taking critical situations from their 2014 season, and replaying them under controlled conditions to learn from the mistakes that were made.

    The most recent practice example came from their game against Illinois, and they recreated the exact situation down to the yard line, time left, and timeouts remaining. Back in the fall, with under four minutes to go, Penn State just needed to run the ball successfully, and get a few first downs to drain the clock. Instead they ended up punting the ball on fourth-and-one, leaving the door open for Illinois to put together a 54-yard, seven-play drive that ended with the Illini kicking a 36-yard field goal to win the game.

    “We’ve gone back and taken all these game situations from last year, and now we’re going to play them out so we can learn from some of the mistakes that we made last year. Now our offense was able to line up and win both those situations in terms of eating up the clock.”

    “It’s one of those things that you’re trying to make it more valuable,” Franklin added when asked if this was an approach he’s always used. “If I get up there and just say ‘four minute situation, three minutes and ten seconds left, two timeouts,’ or just come up with something, but if I could tell them, ‘this is the situation, and this is exactly where we were at last year against Illinois. Offense, you want to end the game on your terms, controlling your own fate, and controlling your own destiny. Defense, we’re trying to get off the field, and give the ball back to the offense.”

    “So you go through the whole thing, and anytime you can point back to a specific example, it carries more weight. Especially when it was a situation that we weren’t successful in.”

    “We may even take a situation from the Super Bowl,” Franklin explained. “It’s just something that I can call out and say ‘here’s the situation from the Super Bowl, here’s the situation from the AFC Championship, here’s the situation from the Big Ten Championship, or something from ourselves, is probably even more relevant.”

  • Jim McElwain on “the hardest thing you go through as a coach”


    When Jim McElwain emerged as a serious candidate for the vacant Florida job last winter, the talk around FootballScoop’s virtual water cooler was how the Colorado State head coach fit in Gainesville. And not necessarily McElwain himself, the self-described “dog they dropped off at the Humane Society” has coached all over the country, but his staff.

    “Mac has a staff built to recruit Colorado and the surrounding areas and they’re doing an awfully good job at that… but it’s not a staff conducive to go super-recruit Florida,” Scott said in a video in December.

    McElwain built the perfect staff to succeed at Colorado State, which was great for building a contender in the Mountain West and useless in rebuilding at Florida.

    One person acutely aware of that fact: Jim McElwain.

    He brought only one on-the-field assistant with him from Fort Collins to Gainesville, running backs coach Tim Skipper, plus strength coach Mike Kent. That’s an unusually low number for a coach making a mid-major-to-Power-Five jump, but in this case the circumstances demanded it.

    “Getting that part right is huge,” McElwain told Dan Wolken of USA Today. “You only get one chance to get it right. I’m not saying (the Colorado State staff) wouldn’t be successful here. Had it been a job on the West Coast, maybe the staff wouldn’t have changed much. It’s hard. Certain guys took it differently. Some understood. Those guys are great coaches and have landed on their feet.”

    “They were hoping I’d get (the CSU job) for families’ sake,” said Doug Baldwin, named Colorado State’s interim head coach for the New Mexico Bowl and now Oregon State’s offensive coordinator. “I was worried about them because I’d been with them the whole time. There’s a reason why you win: It’s the staff. We had great people on the staff. I think most of them knew that they probably didn’t have the opportunity to go with him. I think some of them hoped they would.”

    Four of McElwain’s assistants received offers to stay on from new head coach Mike Bobo. Two more landed at Central Michigan and New Mexico, respectively. Baldwin and Skipper are already accounted for. That leaves defensive line coach Greg Lupfer, a victim of his own success, as the only McElwain assistant still looking for work.

    “It’s probably the hardest thing you go through as a coach,” McElwain said.

    Read the full story here.

  • FootballScoop has found your official 2015 camp wake up alarm


    Whether you blast it walking through the dorms to wake everyone up for breakfast or a morning run come fall camp, or use it as the opening track on your morning playlist for two-a-days, our staff at FootballScoop has tracked down your official 2015 camp wake up alarm.

    The Holiday Inn Resort in Panama City Beach is blasting the Lion King theme “Circle of Life” song  to wake up all the spring breakers from their Natty Ice induced slumbers. Let’s be brutally honest with each other here for a second; if it works for that purpose, it’s perfect for your camp wake up call.

    Let your grad assistants save their voice for practice, no need for them to pound and shout on each door, just get them a portable speaker to roll through the halls with this blaring.

    No thank you necessary.

  • Video: Bill Belichick’s face when…

    The NFL is in the heart of its offseason, which allows four-time Super Bowl champion quarterbacks the freedom to plunge four stories into uncertain waters below.

    Wait, what?


    Never doing that again! #AirBrady

    Posted by Tom Brady on Saturday, March 28, 2015

    In case embed doesn’t work, click here to see Tom Brady jumping off a cliff.

    Let’s go live to Bill Belichick for his reaction:

    Bill Belichick face

    The next time your players do something stupid, take solace in the fact that the greatest quarterback of his generation occasionally does some stupid things, too.

  • “If your players don’t understand the scheme you can’t expect proper intensity, effort, or toughness”

    For Pat Narduzzi and his staff, spending time in the classrooms teaching scheme (and more importantly, making sure that players understand it) may be more important in the big picture of things than the time spent on the practice field.

    The same can probably said for any first year staff installing a new offensive and defensive scheme, so hear me out.

    After the seventh Spring practice under the new staff, Narduzzi was asked about the possible correlation between a lack of execution and a lack of intensity. He then explained that you can’t expect either of them without first having an understanding of the scheme.

    “There are two reasons they don’t execute. They’re either trying not to execute, or they don’t know what they’re doing.” Narduzzi explained after practice.

    “It’s hard to execute when you don’t know what you’re doing. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s hard to be intense about it because you can’t do it in full force, so those go hand in hand.”

    “That’s why we talk about playing with intensity, and effort, and toughness – but you have to have the knowledge because if you don’t have knowledge, you won’t have any of that. That’s why these classrooms are so important.”

    Good point by Narduzzi. So before you jump on your kids for any of those three things – intensity, effort, or toughness – keep that in mind and make sure they have a thorough understanding of the scheme first.