head football coach Larry Kehres; our defensive staff, Joe Leigh (defensive tack- les), Vince Kehres (defensive ends, Marty Cvelbar (linebackers), Jeff Wojtowicz (sec- ondary) and our outstanding players, it is an incredible honor and privilege to be able to contribute to the AFCA 2002Summer
One factor that I have learned during 25 years of coaching is that change is both inevitable and necessary. It is necessary because our opponents are adjusting their schemes to beat our strengths. It is inevitable because without it, there would be no improvement or growth in our pro- gram. Yes, change can be intimidating and cause a good deal of adversity. However, if you see it as a challenge and an opportu- n i t y, it can be profitable for everyone involved.
The change that we are going to share with you refers to the reasons and advan- tages of changing from the 4-4 defense to the 4-3 defense following the 1999 football season. After all, we had just set the record for most consecutive wins in NCAA history at 54 straight and won four Division III national titles (1993, 1996, 1997, 1998). So why the change? Read on!
The changes made by our football staff prior to the 2000 football season proved to be beneficial to our football program. They were based on the following criteria:
throwing the ball and using the spread o ffense. We were having a variety of matchup problems based on alignment and personnel. Linebackers were matched up on wide receivers in the perimeter of our
defense. Moving to the 4-3 defense allowed us to match up more efficiently. As a result, the number of passes completed against our defense has dropped dramatically.
wide variety of formations that our oppo- nents were using, we found that the 4-3 scheme allowed for more efficient adjust- ments made by our secondary instead of our linebackers. We have found that we spend less time on adjustments in practice and more time on practicing our schemes.
able to execute a wide variety of cover- ages, zone dogs and man blitzes from the same look. By utilizing pre-shifts and the field clock, we can confuse the quarterback and disrupt the offensive game plan. When we were in the 4-4 the quarterback only needed to look at the FS and weak OLB to determine what coverage that we were executing.
defenders to the run. The 4-3 enables you to commit nine defenders to the run when the situation exists. We have found it to be an enormous advantage to get our sec- ondary involved in run support.
Because of better matchups and run sup- port in the perimeter by our secondary, the 4-3 defense enables us to be more aggres- sive with our defensive line and linebackers.
The 4-3 defense can adjust to anything your offense needs to see for execution purposes in practice. This is beneficial to our offensive practices. With our terminolo- gy we can simulate any defensive scheme that our offense needs to see in practice.
Below, (Diagram 1) is a brief statistical analysis of our defensive performance for the past three years (based on 10-game schedule).
Based on the statistical analysis of our defensive performance, the changes that we have made proved to be beneficial to our defensive execution and success. What cannot be seen is the overall enthusiasm, commitment, dedication and fun that the change has brought to our football program.
A scheme is nothing without players that will carry out their responsibilities and a philosophy that is used to attack our oppo- nents. Our philosophy has remained con- sistent but small changes had to be made emphasizing the execution and benefits of the 4-3 defense.
5.Win the third down battle.
7.Score on defense.
8.Win the kicking game.
Keeping it simple has proved to be a vital component to our execution and suc- cess. We align in three fronts. We have a reason for executing and aligning in each of them.
It gives me great pleasure to introduce our defensive ends coach, Vince Kehres. Vince has done an outstanding job coach- ing our defensive ends. Both of our ends were All-Americans last year and were a vital part of our defensive success. I attribute that to Vince. Moving to the 4-3 scheme has been beneficial to the execu- tion of their techniques. Vince will share with you some of the coaching philosophy he employs coaching our ends.
The transition to the 4-3 defense has allowed us to be more aggressive with our defensive line particularly the defensive ends. In the 4-4 defense our ends were taught to read first and then react. In the 4- 3, we teach our ends to go on the snap of the ball and react on the move. Our phi- losophy is \u201cPlay Fast.\u201d We drill all of the defensive linemen to burst out of their stance on the snap. This puts them in a better position to rush the quarterback on a pass. It also enables them to make plays from behind and aggressively attack any trap or kick out block, forcing the ball to spill outside to our perimeter defender(s).
I often read defensive schemes that emphasize defensive linemen occupying blockers so that the linebackers are free to run to the ball and make tackles. At Mount Union we emphasize to all of our players on defense the importance of defeating blocks and running to the football. We expect our players to be productive and that is a major factor in our evaluation of them. Simply occupying a gap of responsi- bility without making plays is not good enough.
The defensive linemen are evaluated through a point system in which their score is determined by dividing the number of points they scored on the production chart with the number of plays they were in the game. This system has motivated the play- ers to compete for those points on the field and to thoroughly prepare themselves each week so they can anticipate what is coming from the offense in the game.
I like to consider our defensive staff as \u201cdo\u201d coaches as opposed to \u201cdon\u2019t\u201d coach- es. Instead of constantly telling the players what we don\u2019t want them to do (i.e. get reached, get chopped) we are constantly telling them what we want them to do and how to do it. By constantly giving positive reinforcement when they do what we want them to do they gain a great deal of confi- dence. I also feel that players will perform better when they are not afraid to take risks
and if they have a say in what they are being asked to do. After all, they are the ones playing the game.
Allowing our defensive ends to play aggressively in our 4-3 style of defense has been very successful for us. In 2001 both of our starting defensive ends had 18 tackles for loss during the regular season. In 14 games the defensive line had accounted for 35 of our 44 sacks. Aggressive play from our defensive front still allowed us to play solid against the run and intensified our pass rush as we held our opponents to under 39 percent completion percentage.
In closing, the change to the 4-3 defense has been beneficial and challeng- ing. We hope that this article will prove to be beneficial to you by giving you some ideas and hope for future success. We sin- cerely appreciate the opportunity to con- tribute to the AFCASummer Manual and wish all of you continued success.
That\u2019s what a coach asks of his players and that\u2019s what the
Football Coaches Association is ask- ing of football coaching staffs at all 700 plus institutions fielding college football teams throughout the country.
One hundred percent mem- bership in the AFCAby coaching staffs will result in a more effective voice in mat- ters affecting the game and the coaching profession, from rules legislation to coach of the year voting.
Set the standard. Be sure every member of the football staff at your school is a member of the AFCA.
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