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Defending the Spread Zone Option - Mike Stoops (2011 Nike COY Manual)

Defending the Spread Zone Option - Mike Stoops (2011 Nike COY Manual)

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Published by: Barry Hoover on Nov 22, 2011
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Defending the Spread ZoneOption
by Mike Stoops :: University of Arizona
excerpt from
2011 Nike Coach of the Year Football Manual 
by Earl Browning available at 
 Thank you very much, I want to give you something to think about in simplifying what you do. I want to give yousome ideas I think are important to having some success. i was fortunate to be around many great people growingup. My father was a football coach and I grew up going to football clinics. There are four Stoops brothers in collegecoaching today. Mark is the defensive coordinator at Florida State University, Bob is the head coach at the Universityof Oklahoma, I am the head coach at the University of Arizona, and Rob Stoops is now coaching at YoungstownState University. Rob is our oldest brother. We grew up watching tape with my father. He was quite successful in thisprofession.I hope I can pass on some things that will help you in your program. I do not want to talk a lot of philosophy. I knowyou get that from many head coaches. They want to talk about structure and motivation, I am different from them.Our style is hands-on with the offense and defense. My expertise is on the defensive side of the ball. Good highschool coaches become great college coaches because you have to coach so much in high school on both sides ofthe ball.I want to give you some basic thought about how we build our team. I want to give you some of the ingredients thatare important to building a winning program. When I took the job at Arizona, we had some problems. I had to instillcertain characteristics, values, and discipline into our program so we could become a winner. Football is one of thehardest areas to make wholesale changes because there are so many players involved. We had to recruit qualityfootball players that fit into our system.
• Great defense
• Turnover margin
• Red zone offense
• Special teams
 For you to have a successful team, it is important to have a good defense. Being good on defense gives you anopportunity to win. I believe having a balanced football team is important. However, I believe the entire team'sattitude and durability to play with the best teams has to come from within the structure of your defense. Arizona hasalways played good defense.It goes back to the old adage, which says, "Offense sells tickets, and defense wins championships." When you lookat the University of Oregon, they were good offensively but the thing that made them a great team was their defense.If you watch the evolution of Oregon in the past couple of years, it has been their ability to play good defense. Theyhave one of the fastest defenses in the country. Their defense gives them an opportunity to go to the next level.The turnover margin is something that we talk about all the time. This year, we ended up fourth in the RAG 10.Statistically, we were third in total defense arid total offense. We were eighth In turnover margin. That was differentand the lowest ranking we have had in the last four years. We do not read much into statistics. However, turnovermargin is a telling statistic when it comes to evaluating your season. It is critical and something we must address withour team.
 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.
• 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
formation team, Our approach has not changed much as to the way we play a 2x2 set or a 3x1 set. In those sets, thequarterback is in the shotgun 70 percent of the time. Oregon and Arizona State are in the shotgun almost 100percent of the time. Few teams in our league align in a conventional set, and most of them are in the spreadformations. Stanford University and the University of Southern California are predominantly under the center.When we teach defense, we start with the three- and four-wide formations and work our way into the moreconventional sets. We build everything we talk about on numbers. We teach from a 2x2 or a 3x1 formation. Becauseof the zone read concept in football today, it is important to have the extra defender on the quarterback.At Arizona, we structure our defense to gap control with the nickel, Mike linebacker, or Will linebacker based onwhere the running back sets. In the first example, the back sets away from the nickel back (
Diagram #1
). After weset the front, the nickel widens outside the B gap and splits the difference between the slot receiver and the offensivetackle. He reads through the B gap for the zone play.If they run the zone play, the nickel back fills the B gap to the backside. The Mike is the A-gap player to the ballside.The Will linebacker becomes the extra defender on the quarterback if he pulls the ball. If there were a tight end tothat side, the Will linebacker moves out over the tight end, and nothing else would change.If they brought the back to the other side, the Will linebacker plays the A gap to the backside. The Mike linebackertakes the B gap to the playside, and the nickel back is the extra player on the quarterback if he pulls the ball.

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