Jerry Kill urges you to focus on three areas to win more games
Jerry Kill and his staff have absolutely transformed the Minnesota program in three years, starting off at 3-9 his first season, improving to 6-7 with a bowl appearance in year two, and this past season the squad finished 8-5. This spring marks an opportunity for them to take another step toward being a legit challenger for the Big Ten title.
Asked about what they'll focus on offensively during spring ball, Kill offered up a few things that coordinators on both sides of the ball will find interesting.
"From the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, you look at wins and losses, and most of the time they're in the red zone. From a defensive standpoint getting stops, and from an offensive standpoint, scoring inside of the red zone." he explained
"If you're a good red zone team, and you're good at fourth down situations, and you don't get in third and long, you're going to win most of your games. So that's a big emphasis behind what we're doing."
"Go through and take a look at it. It's the truth."
Take a look back through your game film this year and evaluate your losses. How many of those outcomes would have been different if you improved in those three categories? Chances are your season would look quite a bit different.
Watch the Metrodome disappear in five seconds
Minneapolis' Metrodome was the only venue in America to host a Super Bowl, a Final Four, an MLB All-Star Game and a World Series.
Key word: was.
The home of the Minnesota Vikings - and previous home of the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Golden Gophers - has been put out to pasture to make way for something newer and better. Minneapolis said goodbye to the 31-year-old structure the best way you can say goodbye to an out of date stadium: bye exploding it from the inside.
VIDEO: Explosives demolish Metrodome http://t.co/2t5cjzR9Fd— NFL (@nfl) February 23, 2014
Hoke explains why he prefers his DC to coach linebackers
With the rise of the spread, a lot of new head coaches like their defensive coordinator to also have a hand in coaching the secondary. Brady Hoke has a different version in mind.
When Brady Hoke hired Greg Mattison away from the Baltimore Ravens back in 2011, Mattison was tabbed with overseeing the defensive line on top of his duties as defensive coordinator. That continued until late last week when Hoke switched some duties around, moving Mattison to linebackers coach, and having Roy Manning move from outside linebacker to corners to split duties with Curt Mallory, who will handle the safeties. Inside linebackers coach Mark Smith will now coach the defensive line.
For Hoke, moving Mattison (who coached the linebackers in Baltimore from 2008-2010) from the front four, to the middle of the defense, just makes sense.
"I think having your coordinator in a position in the middle of the defense, he’s coached linebackers for a lot of different years, I just feel, for us as a defensive staff and him as coordinator, it just makes more sense."
“In this day and age of football, with spread offenses, you’re having sub personnel in the game, nickel and dime and all that kind of stuff, that’s a lot to take for one coach. I did some research on it and talked to a lot of different coaches across the country about how they configure their secondary. You look at the National Football League model. They have a corners coach and a safeties coach in most places."
A lot of head coaches would agree would agree with that outlook.
According to my research, of the top ten defenses of the 2013 season (in terms of total defense), six of the top defensive coordinator's backgrounds are dominated by experience coaching the linebackers (Pat Narduzzi, Bud Foster, Dave Aranda, DJ Durkin, Art Kaufman, Mike Elko), while four have most of the experience in the defensive backfield (Vance Bedford, Jeremy Pruitt, Kirby Smart, Phil Parker).
Study: Who had the spread-iest spread offenses in college football last season?
These days, nearly every offense in college football can fall under the umbrella of "spread offenses" in some way shape or form. For some it's an identity, but for most it's just a means to an end - to get the ball in space. Offensive coordinators live to force their defensive counterparts to cover a running back or wide receiver in a 1-on-1 situation.
Fortunately, there is a tool to measure how often an offense puts defenders on an island - assisted tackles. A 1-on-1 situation doesn't allow for any assisted tackles; either the defender makes the play on his own or it's a touchdown. SB Nation stats expert Bill Connelly charted solo and assisted tackles for every game throughout the season, uncovering a gem of a game in which Texas Tech forced Stephen F. Austin to make 60 solo tackles and with zero assists. The Red Raiders won, 61-13, with six of their eight touchdowns coming from at least 18 yards out.
While no one else was able to match Texas Tech's 100 percent solo tackle rate from that September night, a lot of schools came close. And, unsurprisingly, most of them were in the Big 12 and Pac-12. Over the course of the season, the Big 12 led college football with an 80.1 percent solo tackle rate (5,906 total solo tackles, 1,471 assisted tackles) followed by the Pac-12 (76.4 percent) and the Sun Belt (75.1 percent).
On an individual level, the Big 12 accounted for the top two spots and three of the top four.
|Team||Solo Tackles||Assisted Tackles||Solo Tackle Rate|
|1. Kansas State||596||79.5||88.2%|
|2. Texas Tech||721||103||87.5%|
|3. Arizona State||758||129||85.5%|
|8. Fresno State||700||151||82.3%|
|9. Wake Forest||475||106||81.8%|
Now let's skip the next 114 steps and go all the way down to the bottom. That would be where we'll find the staunchest advocate of grind-it-out, slow-it-down football. They may not have snapped the ball early in the play clock, but nearly one out of every two Arkansas snaps ended in a Razorback getting gang tackled.
|Team||Solo Tackles||Assisted Tackles||Solo Tackle Rate|
Expect SEC stadiums to get even more raucous this fall
College football's loudest conference is about to get even louder.
SEC athletics directors have approved the usage of pumped in music in between snaps before the quarterback steps over the ball.
“If you need to get people revved up for a big third-down play, you can do that,” Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity told the Athens Banner-Herald. “You could always do it with your band, but now you can do it any way you want to. You still have to stop once the quarterback gets over the ball, gets under the center or in the shotgun.”
McGarity said he was impressed with the atmosphere at Clemson's Death Valley during the Tigers' 38-35 defeat of Georgia to open the 2013 season, in which the home team augmented the in-stadium atmosphere with piped in music.
“Those of us who saw what it did at Clemson, it energized their fan base with certain songs,” McGarity said.
Led by Mississippi State athletics director Scott Stricklin, the SEC has designated a committee to study fan interaction and in-game marketing. Despite leading the nation in attendance, the SEC has struggled with dwindling gate numbers (especially among the student population) and the latest wrinkle is attempt to get the 20-somethings in the building and keep them there for all 60 minutes of game action.
Video: Marine Day training at Southern
Southern University brought in the big guns for their second annual Marine day training, and the tone gets set immediately at the team meeting. Minutes before the drill sergeant got in front of everyone you could see guys sleeping, but that definitely wasn't the case after he took over.
The team went through a ton of team building centered workouts that tested their mental toughness. The workouts included an obstacle course, pushing a Hummer and a tug of war.
Look around at the players faces during some of the more grueling workout portions and you'll be hard pressed to find a guy or two not smiling. The players genuinely seemed to enjoy the change of pace.
High schools are now expertly using recruiting videos
The recruiting video trend has officially trickled down to the high school level, and why wouldn't it? For private schools who are allowed to go out and target the top student athletes, it's a logical marketing tool to sell the program.
At the national convention and Michigan conventions, I talked to handful of public school coaches that do something similar to try and get those kids in their school that are "on the fence" about playing to tip in their favor.
This video is from St. John's high school (SC), who is able to recruit the top student-athletes in the area. Last years version of the video allowed them to land nearly every kid they had on their wish list, and coaches expect this year's version to have similar results.
This one has it all; a smothering defense, big plays on offense, and some hits that will make you cringe.
Seven years ago recruiting videos (as we know them) didn't even exist at the major college level, and now, regardless of the circumstance, there's likely a place in your program for videos like this. If nothing else, your current players will absolutely love them.
Did Gus Malzahn hire his next offensive coordinator today?
On Monday, FootballScoop reported that Byrnes High School (Duncan, S.C.) head coach Bobby Bentley has accepted a position as an offensive analyst at Auburn working with the Tigers' quarterbacks. But it appears this may be Gus Malzahn's first move to prepare for the eventual departure of current quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.
To be clear, Malzahn is in no way pushing Lashlee out. Quite the opposite, in fact. Lashlee has been under Malzahn's wing for literally half his life, and Lashlee is the one guy Malzahn has by his side for every key decision. Their relationship stretches well beyond the typical head coach-coordinator duo, and Malzahn presumably would like to keep that in place for as long as possible. That said, Malzahn still must prepare for the future, and that future likely includes some program dangling the keys in front of the SEC's hottest young offensive coordinator sooner rather than later.
When that day arrives, Malzahn has to have a plan in place. Which is why he circled back to Bentley.
Malzahn first offered Bentley a position on his original Auburn staff in 2012. Bentley turned it down. “I’m staying at Byrnes and I want to be here and that’s what I’m going to do,” Bentley said at the time. “Gus and I are good friends. … I’m just going to leave it at that.”
Nearly a year to the day later, Malzahn began dealing with the reality that Lashlee may have a short shelf life at Auburn. Fresh off a completely unprecedented run to the SEC championship, his 30-year-old offensive coordinator was now in demand. "He'll be a head coach at this level," Malzahn said of Lashlee. "It's just a matter of when and he's doing a great job for us right now."
Two months later, Malzahn's second attempt to hook Bentley has landed. Bentley went 119-54 in two separate stints at Byrnes, with a run of four straight state championships from 2002-05. He was named Nike's national coach of the year in 2005. His departure is simultaneously surprising and inevitable. On one hand, he has a son that's a rising sophomore and figured to be Byrnes' starting quarterback for the next three seasons. On the other, coaches twice offered a position on Gus Malzahn's staff don't stick around and hold out for a third job offer.
Let's take a moment to consider who Malzahn is and what it truly means to be his offensive coordinator. A former high school coach, Malzahn has championed the idea of hiring high school coaches directly into major college football. If any coach were to go from high school, to an off-the-field role to offensive coordinator in an extraordinarily short amount of time, Malzahn would be the one head coach where such an ascension would be possible. That's in large part because Malzahn is the brains behind his own operation. To be an offensive coordinator under him is to be a sounding board and a chief lieutenant, first and foremost.
Now let's juxtapose the previous paragraph with this tweet from Greenville News (S.C.) sports reporter Willie Smith:
Bobby Bentley once told me he would only leave for a coordinator’s position. Will be interesting to see what his role with Auburn will be.— Willie Smith (@willie_t_smith) February 24, 2014
Could Malzahn have tapped Bentley for on-the-job training to be Auburn's next offensive coordinator?
We don't possess any inside information as to Malzahn's thinking with this hire, but there are enough dots here that bear connecting.