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Keys to winning 1st and 2nd down to win 3rd down with Wheaton (D-III - IL) defensive coordinator CJ Nightingale

The Wheaton (D-III - IL) defense was one of the top units in small college football this season under first-year defensive coordinator CJ Nightingale.

After leading the Division III level in total defense, Nightingale was recognized as a finalist for the FootballScoop D-III Coordinator of the Year Award.

Today, Nightingale took us through his philosophy and the keys to winning 1st and 2nd down to control 3rd down.

Here are a few of my favorite takeaways from coach Nightingale's talk:

  • Why starting with your base defense is key
  • Why boredom is the enemy of effective defenses
  • The 3 controllable factors the Wheaton defensive staff believes are key to getting off the field
  • What situations you should dial up the creativity in
  • Why being humble and admitting mistakes to your players is key
  • Lessons learned being a young coordinator in a very competitive league
  • Simple drills that have been key to 1st and 2nd down success

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Check out our conversation with coach Nightingale below.