Division I-AA to Division I-A t h r e e years ago, my coaching staff and I knew we had a tough task ahead of us. Considering the teams that we were scheduled to play and the caliber of ath- letes we were facing, we knew that we had to find an edge for ourselves by out- working other people and doing things the right way.
An area that we felt like we could out- work other teams was in the kicking game. In the past three seasons, our special teams units have been the decid- ing factor in several games and have given our offense and defense numerous chances to be successful.
An area of special teams preparation that is of extreme importance to the Blue Raider\u2019s is practice time and meeting time. We utilize a weekly practice plan when preparing for the upcoming game. This plan allows us to schedule offensive and defensive meetings without interfering with special teams preparation. We normally devote thirty to 45 minutes a day of special teams meeting time and practice time. Our in-season kicking/meeting schedule is as follows:
2:45-3:00 Pride Meeting
Dawgs (Period 2-3)
Kickoff Return (Period 4-5)
Pride Script (Period 6-7)
Bandits (Period 8-9)
We feel that this schedule allows us to adequately cover all phases of the kick- ing game and give our players the best opportunity to be successful.
A second area of teaching the kicking game that must be addressed is proper delegation of coaching responsibilities. Our golden rule at Middle Tennessee is that when we are practicing a phase of the kicking game, offensive and defen- sive preparation stops and each coach teaches his assigned area.
Every coach on the staff is involved in the kicking game and each coach has a certain responsibility to the team. We feel that every detail of the kicking game needs to be covered and in order for this to be accomplished, each coach must help. The involvement by every coach in the kicking game allows each player to receive specific feedback as well as the individualized attention they deserve. Diagrams 1-7 illustrate our special teams coaching responsibilities.
Finally, I have established an account- ability system for each coach that ensures quality preparation for his phase of the kicking game. I require each coach to for- mulate a scouting checklist that focuses on game-situations, personnel, and game- breakers. We refer to game-breakers as plays that give us the opportunity to change the momentum of the game. Every Wednesday, I meet individually with each coach and talk about his phase of the kick- ing game. During this meeting, we talk about the scouting checklist for his phase and formulate a scouting report for the upcoming game. Also, the meeting allows the position coach and myself to exchange ideas and implement the overall game plan. The scouting checklist for the Blue Raider special teams is as follows:
1.Who are the best cover guys?
2.Where punter places the ball?
3.How he handles pressure?
4.Any fakes or special plays?
5.Weak areas in the box?
6.Are the sprinters good, do we need to
3.How good is the returner?
4.Any special returns or reverses?
5.Who is the best blocker?
6.Do they rush a sprinter?
7.Who has the personal protector?
1.\u00c5lignment of the ball.
2.Alignment of the kicker.
3.Alignment of the coverage team.
4.Placement of ball after kick.
6.Twist by cover people.
1.Type of rush used.
2.Who we must block.
3.Any special blocks.
4.Alignment of kicker (buckle to point).
5.Leave when holder moves hand. Nice
6.Be alert for \u201cRED\u201d call situations. 7.Be alert for \u201cFIRE\u201d call situations. 8. Be alert for substitution problems.
1.Can we block it?
2.What type of block?
3.Where are the weaknesses?
4. Adjustment to unbalanced.
5. Practice the muddle huddle.
7. Adjustment to \u201cSPREAD.\u201d
8.Middle block-overload right and left.
9.Edge block to and away from the kickers
We firmly believe in this scouting check- list and credit Middle Tennessee\u2019s success to our players and coaches believing in the importance of the kicking game.
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