Last year, we had six turnovers in the red zone. They were lost opportunities and momentum changers. Thosemistakes are difficult from which to recover. You have the chance to go in, get points, and end up with nothing. Thatis a good statistic at which to look. The previous year we finished first in the PAC 10 in that statistic, and we finishedsecond in the league.The PAC 10 has never been as competitive for teams one through 10 as it is now. The competition in the league hasnever been better. Special teams are more important than ever before. The special teams can decide the game in aclosely competitive contest. We scored with 26 seconds to go against Arizona State University and missed the extrapoint to win the game. We went into overtime and lost the game on a missed extra point in the second overtimeperiod.You must stress those areas within your program. You have to be able to punt and return the ball. All those areasbecome invaluable when you are in tight football games. We have to do a better job on special teams, and we willdirect our attention to those things in the spring.In those four statistics, we were third in total defense and in the bottom half of the league in the other categories.Those are not good statistics, and that tells us why we finished where we did in the PAC 10.We have to improve in those areas, and the keys to doing it starts with leadership.
HOW DO YOU ACCOMPLISH THESE THINGS?
• Leadership (seniors)
• Play hard every snap; average play 4 to 7 seconds
• Preparation: Do your job.
• Team first: Don't be selfish; maintain positive energy.
The leadership on your team comes from your seniors, hopefully the best players on your team. A good team withgood leadership can win 7 or 8 games. A good team with great leadership can win 9 or 10 games. That stat is criticalwhen you look at your overall team. You look to your seniors for leadership. You look at your seniors and try to see ifthere is a correlation for the past couple of years. Trying to build leadership is something we talk about continuouslyover the course of the year.It takes no talent to play hard. Each play is 4 to 7 seconds in length. That is not a tremendous amount of time. In ourback seven players, we do not substitute many times with them. However, in the front four, we play seven to eightplayers each game. We build the linebackers and defense to play hard and the front four get enough rest that theyshould play hard every snap. We grade every play for effort. Getting a team running to the ball and giving maximumeffort is paramount to your success as a football team.The preparation you put into the game is tremendously important. The preparation of your team is the key any timeyou step on the field. We have the same preparation for each game, and we want to show great respect for eachopponent we play. We want to be prepared to play the best team in the league or the worst team in the league. Thebalance in the league means you must be prepared every time you step on the field.The last thing is putting the team first. Football is the ultimate team sport. You have stars, and you want them to haveindividual goals, but that cannot overshadow the importance of putting the team first.Those are some brief philosophical points that I think are important to being successful and certainly to being goodon defense. If your players are accountability for those areas, you have a chance to be a good team,When I was a player, we played many spread teams. Today, want to talk about how we play a three- or four-wide