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#CoachesCorner: Ball security

Welcome to Coaches Corner, a new ongoing series from FootballScoop where coaches submit ideas to share with the rest of the coaching community.

Coaches can publish articles with their names attached, or anonymously if they wish.

Today’s #CoachesCorner is from former James Madison (FCS – VA) head coach and college coaching veteran Mickey Matthews. Coach Matthews is a three-time National Coach of the Year who helped two programs win national championships. As head coach at James Madison, Matthews won the 2004 FCS National Championship. In 15 seasons as head coach at JMU, Matthews’ teams won 109 games. After serving as defensive coordinator at the FBS level for two seasons, Matthews most recently coached linebackers for the Dallas Renegades of the XFL.

After watching the games over the weekend I am convinced ball security is at an all time low.

In particular, one over-riding mistake is obvious to this observer. Allowing ball carriers, it can be either offensive or defensive players, to reach or extend the ball in any circumstances is very unsound fundamentally.

When carrying the ball, a player should never be allowed to reach or extend the ball away from his body. Carry it high and tight - period - whether you are in traffic or not.

The only exceptions are on 4th down and the mark is very important. We allowed it obviously when the game was on the line and reaching the ball was allowed to extend a possession or win the game. It was a rare occurrence and all of our kids knew how we felt as a staff.

We just did not allow, "Reaching the ball." This has become a serious problem in football. Careless turnovers at bad times, costly touchbacks at the goal line and undisciplined, premature celebrations that go along with it hurt many teams.

I used to tell our players, take care of the ball and it will take care of us!

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