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of Sioux Falls would like to thank the AFCA for this opportunity to share with other coaches some ideas on defense that have helped our program. I believe strong- ly that we have a very unique organization in which we help each other make our pro- grams better by the exchange of ideas. Since 1961 when I started coaching foot- ball, many others have given a lot of influ- ence to the programs which I have coached.
Being personally involved more on the offensive side of the ball, I realize the importance of a defensive philosophy that emphasizes turnovers and scoring on defense. Nothing can change the momen- tum of a game faster than a critical turnover or even more so, a defensive score. There may be certain seasons where you are blessed with an offense that can outscore any opponent. The key to success and consistency every year is to have a defense that helps the offense either score or puts them in a position to score when your offense is not as prolific.
Our aggressive style of defense that emphasizes turnovers and defensive scores has been a major source of our suc- cess over the past couple of years.
\u2022 17 turnovers
\u2022 -5 turnover margin
\u2022 One defensive touchdown
\u2022 49 turnovers
\u2022 +26 turnover margin
\u2022 Seven defensive touchdowns
\u2022 40 turnovers
\u2022 +14 turnover margin
\u2022 Five defensive touchdowns
After completing a statistical review fol- lowing our 2000 season, we felt that we were not achieving the up-tempo style of defense we had been preaching to our players. In the previous two seasons we had created a mere 34 turnovers in 19 games, and only three of those resulted in a defensive score. As a staff, we felt a fine- tuning of our defensive philosophy was in order. We began with the simple slogan \u201c11:30.\u201d We ask our players, \u201cWhat time is it?\u201d They respond with a resounding \u201c11:30!\u201d. We must have 11 hats on the ball and go three and out at a minimum every time we step on the field. Anything less is considered a minus for the entire defensive unit. With this simple concept ingrained in our players\u2019 psyches, we expanded our strategy to encompass three things we felt we wanted to accomplish on the field as a feared and dominant defense. These are as follows:
every time we step on the field. There is nothing more devastating to an opposing offense than giving up points during their possession. While many people talk about scoring on defense, we wanted to actually do it! We believe it is imperative that if we are going to score, we must practice scor- ing daily.
the football for our offense in a timely man- ner is our number two goal. The closer we can get our offense to the end zone without allowing the opponent punt unit to step on the field, the more opportune our chance is to score points in a rapid fashion.
Once we redeveloped our philosophy, we sought improved practice methods that would turn into direct results on the field. We were able to break turnovers and defensive scores down into two basic areas: Individual and Team fundamentals.
Turnover drills are executed on a daily basis within each position group\u2019s individ- ual period. We also make use of a turnover circuit at least twice a week during the sea-
son. This is a high-energy time that we use at the beginning of practice, and it is referred to as \u201cThe Pit\u201d (Diagram 1). The concept of a turnover circuit is obviously not a new concept. We all use it in some form or fashion during the week.
What we try to incorporate into the session is a level of urgency and desire by bringing all three position groups together and rotating them within a close physical proximity roughly resembling a triangle. A significant key here is keeping the total time of drill execution to five min- utes or less. We want to hold the focus and intensity of both the players and coaches involved. The scene is quite chaotic with \u201cBall!\u201d calls coming in unison and loose footballs flying all over the place.
heightened energy level. Our players are eager to perform the drill aggressively when they know not only are all the coach- es watching, but their peers are as well. We use three stations, each station lasting approximately 90 seconds, which essen- tially gives each player one opportunity to perform each drill. We use the following drills with several variations:
from a triangle, with the ballcarrier facing two would-be tacklers. On command, one player executes a perfect form tackle while the other attacks the ball vigorously until the ballcarrier releases it. The player that forced the loose ball then covers the ball in a fetal position while the tackler continues to drive the ball carrier away from the action.
common drill where a ball carrier works away from the defender at three-quarter speed. The defender will either execute a strip or a punch and then work to make a recovery while also ensuring the tackle.
in a single column and work full speed towards a coach standing 15 yards away. The coach releases the ball at various tra- jectories towards the player. The defender executes a scoop by lowering the hips and bending one knee while working one hand under the ball and popping it up into his chest. He then secures the ball and sprints past the coach for the touchdown.
same as Scoop and Score, only this time the players form two lines. The player in front of the coach executes a perfect scoop, while the second player trails in good pitch rela- tionship. Once the scoop has been initially secured, the defender will then perform an option pitch to the player who is trailing. T h e trailer will secure the pitch and sprint past the coach for the score.
ted ball by the defensive line. Players work in tandem, one behind the other as they work toward the coach. The first player tips a thrown ball up in the air while the second player catches the ball at the high point, secures it, and sprints past the coach for a touchdown.
Many different drills can be incorporat- ed into \u201cThe Pit,\u201d so we have many options and switch it up on a daily basis. The main focus of this drill is two-fold. First and foremost is a chaotic aggression towards the ball. The second is quite sim-
ply ball security on the way to the end zone once the recovery has been made. We want to make sure that we do not make a big play only to turn it back over to the opposing offense. Again, the sense of pandemonium created by this circuit drill allows our players to get excited about creating turnovers. \u201cThe Pit\u201d is as much about mental aggression and excitement as it is about technique.
We emphasize the turnover in every single phase in practice. We may be working inside game, 11 vs. 11, or pass skelly; the type of team function is some- what irrelevant. In each team drill we do, the whistle does not blow until all 11 play- ers are in pursuit and a minimum of two players have made a serious attempt to strip the ball. If that means that the scout team has just completed a 70-yard pass p l a y, then all 11 players are sprinting down the field, and the exercise does not end until two defenders have attempted to strip the ball. Every time a loose ball is scooped, or we get an interception, the whistle is not blown until all players sprint to the end zone for the touchdown. There are a couple of other team drills we do outside of an offense vs. defense set up. They are as follows:
drill is often incorporated into a standard pursuit drill. The coach running the pursuit drill will either drop back and throw the ball or release it on the ground roughly 25 per- cent of the time. The crack back is then on. The defender (Sam linebacker) that inter- cepts or scoops the ball will immediately take off down the sideline. The nearest defender up the field (stud defensive end) will immediately turn back towards the ball carrier and crack back on the nearest offen- sive threat to making the tackle.
All of the remaining defenders work down the field, forming a wall in front of the ball carrier. The key coaching point
Dan Durrett, a 6-4, 240-lb defensive lineman out of Houston had 18.5 tack- les and 3.5 sacks last season.
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