Un iver s it y of Sioux Falls Defense: Turnovers & To uc hdo wn s

ur coaching staff here at the University 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 strongly that we have a very unique organization in which we help each other make our programs better by the exchange of ideas. Since 1961 when I started coaching football, many others have given a lot of influence 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 momentum 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 success over the past couple of years. 1999 • 17 turnovers • -5 turnover margin • One defensive touchdown • Record: 6-3 2000 • 17 turnovers • +5 turnover margin • Two defensive touchdowns • Record: 6-4 2001 • 49 turnovers • +26 turnover margin • Seven defensive touchdowns • No. 10 overall defense in NAIA • Record: 12-2 • National runner-up 2002 • 40 turnovers • +14 turnover margin • Five defensive touchdowns • No. 1 overall defense in NAIA • Record: 12-1 • National semi finalist I would like to thank our defensive coor-

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dinator, Chuck Morrell, and the rest of the defensive staff for their input on this article. Fine Tuning Philosophy After completing a statistical review following 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 finetuning of our defensive philosophy was in order. We began with the simple slogan “11:30.” We ask our players, “What time is it?” They respond with a resounding “11:30!”. 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’ 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: 1. Score: This is our primary objective 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 scoring daily. 2. Turnovers: Regaining possession of the football for our offense in a timely manner 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. 3. Three and Out: Again, we want our players to believe three and out to be a worst-case scenario. Practice Implementation 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. Individual Fundamentals Turnover drills are executed on a daily basis within each position group’s individual period. We also make use of a turnover circuit at least twice a week during the sea-

The trailer will secure the pitch and sprint past the coach for the score. secures it. each station lasting approximately 90 seconds. Once the scoop has been initially secured. with the ballcarrier facing two would-be tacklers. then all 11 players are sprinting down the field. The coach running the pursuit drill will either drop back and throw the ball or release it on the ground roughly 25 percent of the time. one player executes a perfect form tackle while the other attacks the ball vigorously until the ballcarrier releases it. 11. Trail Strip/Punch: This is a very common drill where a ball carrier works away from the defender at three-quarter speed. and it is referred to as “The Pit” (Diagram 1). and the exercise does not end until two defenders have attempted to strip the ball. 4. the whistle does not blow until all 11 players are in pursuit and a minimum of two players have made a serious attempt to strip the ball. a 6-4. and sprints past the coach for a touchdown. We all use it in some form or fashion during the week. but their peers are as well. defense set up.5 tackles and 3. which essentially gives each player one opportunity to perform each drill. First and foremost is a chaotic aggression towards the ball. son. We use three stations. The crack back is then on. We want to make sure that we do not make a big play only to turn it back over to the opposing offense. only this time the players form two lines. The second is quite sim- ply ball security on the way to the end zone once the recovery has been made. On command. We believe having the entire group in close relation to one another leads to a heightened energy level. The key coaching point . Our players are eager to perform the drill aggressively when they know not only are all the coaches watching. the whistle is not blown until all players sprint to the end zone for the touchdown.” so we have many options and switch it up on a daily basis.5 sacks last season. 3. The first player tips a thrown ball up in the air while the second player catches the ball at the high point. 11 vs. We may be working inside game. Scoop and Score: The players align in a single column and work full speed towards a coach standing 15 yards away. The scene is quite chaotic with “Ball!” calls coming in unison and loose footballs flying all over the place. 5. Again. Diagram 1 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. He then secures the ball and sprints past the coach for the touchdown. Crack-Back Drill (Diagram 2): This drill is often incorporated into a standard pursuit drill. Team Fundamentals We emphasize the turnover in every single phase in practice. or we get an interception. The coach releases the ball at various trajectories towards the player. The defender will either execute a strip or a punch and then work to make a recovery while also ensuring the tackle. “The Pit” is as much about mental aggression and excitement as it is about technique. forming a wall in front of the ball carrier. Double Team Strip: Three players from a triangle. one behind the other as they work toward the coach. 240-lb defensive lineman out of Houston had 18. We use the following drills with several variations: 1. Every time a loose ball is scooped. The main focus of this drill is two-fold. The concept of a turnover circuit is obviously not a new concept. while the second player trails in good pitch relationship. There are a couple of other team drills we do outside of an offense vs. This is a high-energy time that we use at the beginning of practice. 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. We want to hold the focus and intensity of both the players and coaches involved. 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. 2. Scoop and Pitch: This drill is the same as Scoop and Score. They are as follows: 1. The player in front of the coach executes a perfect scoop. The nearest defender up the field (stud defensive end) will immediately turn back towards the ball carrier and crack back on the nearest offensive threat to making the tackle. Many different drills can be incorporated into “The Pit. Players work in tandem. The defender (Sam linebacker) that intercepts or scoops the ball will immediately take off down the sideline. If that means that the scout team has just completed a 70-yard pass play. Diagram 2 All of the remaining defenders work down the field. the defender will then perform an option pitch to the player who is trailing. In each team drill we do. Tip Drill: This drill is to simulate a batted ball by the defensive line. the type of team function is somewhat irrelevant. A significant key here is keeping the total time of drill execution to five minutes or less. the sense of pandemonium created by this circuit drill allows our players to get excited about creating turnovers.Dan Durrett. or pass skelly.

We also emphasize keeping all blocks above the waist and in front of would-be tacklers. while leaving those offensive players alone that are clearly out of the picture back up the field. The biggest single factor is the mind set of the players. All five players take off on a dead sprint to the indicated sideline. Conclusion We believe that these simple adjustments allowed us to go from 34 turnovers and three defensive touchdowns in 1999 and 2000 to 89 turnovers and 12 defensive touchdowns in 2001 and 2002. we focus on celebrating as a team. We encourage our players to pick up any loose ball on the field and run with it and pitch it if necessary. we truly believe that we must push our men to play on the edge and take some chances in order to establish multiple big play opportunities and swing the all important momentum in our favor. maybe. Once we reach the end zone. We execute this drill all the way into the end zone. Should Not Be in a Coach’s Vocabulary Hard-nosed. all players scramble to get up and turn to the coach for a direction. awaiting the ballcarrier’s pitch out to him. but a more compelling reason comes from a legal standpoint. the coach to that side releases the ball. The defender nearest the ballcarrier and closest to the sideline will then work pitch relationship (SF). Football is a contact game. Hustle Drill (Diagram 3): This drill is used to emphasize hustle and ball recovery. ensuring a momentum swing in our direction while avoiding foolish penalties.here is that the blockers will work from the sidelines out and push their heads over their field shoulders to look for the nearest threat in front of the ball carrier. In a courtroom. While this may go against conventional wisdom. When all 11 players believe they have a chance to impact the game and get in the end zone. descriptive terms are used against coaches and the game. Once the players approach the sideline. hustles back and participates in the very next drill. The players must either take out a bag or recover the ball. Once the primary coach at the front of the five blows a whistle. Three standup dummies and a coach with a ball are placed on each sideline 25 yards down the field. . but terms that reflect brutality and violence do not belong in a coach’s vocabulary. Five defenders lay down on their backs with heads toward the coach. Similar Terms. going after the football becomes a natural reaction!! Diagram 3 The coach will then indicate a direction to one sideline or the other. The remaining player that does not get a bag or the ball “Smash Mouth” Football. 2. student-athletes and especially the media who cover your team to cooperate and refrain from using overly-descriptive terms that reflect poorly on the game and your profession. Don’t hesitate to ask your fellow coaches. but “smash-mouth” football is not how competent football coaches refer to their game. Image is one reason to clean up slang terms like smash-mouth that have become popular in the media.

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