Run to Win

Eric Schumann Assistant Head Coach/ Defensive Coordinator Southern Methodist University Dallas, Texas

n the behalf of Southern Methodist University, our head coach Mike Cavan, our defensive coaches Warren Belin (linebackers), Troy Douglas (defensive backs), Steve Malin (defensive line), Gary Hyatt (defensive line), and our players, it is a great pleasure to be asked to contribute to the 1999 AFCA Summer Manual. I get a chance to read the manual every year, and always find a particular scheme, philosophy or an idea that I can use in my life and on the football field. We hope that this article can help you in some way or be adapted to your program. First, I would like to share with you something that I feel is very important to me. We, as coaches, have to remember that we get caught up in our football life because it is important to us. We spend hours and hours trying to get our players ready to be the best they can be, so they can be successful on the field. The thing we forget sometimes is that we have some other players in our lives. These players are more important than football. They are God and family. Along with all the planning we do to be successful in football, we must also remember to put in the extra effort to be successful in God’s eyes, and to be successful as a husband and as a father. Philosophy The first and foremost principle of our defense is to have all 11 players swarming the football. Every year, we look at our defensive philosophy and come up with the same conclusion: We must be able to run to win. We feel that the tempo we set in our practices will take care of all the other goals we have set on defense, to eliminate the long runs and passes, “out-physical” the opponent, causing turnovers, etc. There is nothing more demoralizing to an offense than a ball-hawking defense. Pursuing the football is a matter of all-out effort and desire. There might be a tremendous difference in each player’s ability, but the one thing that every player can do is give an all-out effort. Our coaches will demand on every play that we receive an all-out effort. Our players must understand that to win, they must run to the ball, so the only question we have to ask them is, “Do you want to win?” One way we teach this attitude is in our pursuit drill. Our pursuit drill is explained below. SMU Pursuit Drill We are an attack 4-3 defense. We will


give different looks, but we base out of a 4-3 with our ends in a wide alignment in a sprinter’s stance. We feel this alignment helps us to have only two true interior linemen. Our front four key the ball and have one objective create a new line of scrimmage by getting their feet on the other side of the ball. Starting the first day of fall and spring camps, we teach our pursuit drill to all our defensive players. Our pursuit drill is taught out of our base and G defensive alignments (Diagrams 1 and 2).

Diagram 1: G Alignment

Diagram 2: Base Alignment

Diagram 3: SMU Pursuit Drill

We set the drill up as shown in Diagram 3. Equipment used: five garbage cans, football, 22 cones. We use this drill as an all-encompassing drill. We start with running to the huddle, giving the front and coverage, breaking the huddle, strength declaration, stance and alignment, moving on the ball, and creating a new line of scrimmage with

• AFCA Summer Manual — 1999 •

Effort. With a Sam left call.... If we can ever help in any way..6 Total Defense: ............ Tackle: Attack upfield.0 (76th) 329. if our players are conditioned to getting all eleven players to the ball.. the numbers are reversed. pursuit angle sixth sideline cone.. Will linebacker: Check cutback. the players attack their gap responsibility..197.9(29th) 297.. 3. Aggressiveness.193. The players’ pursuit assignments are as follows: Rush end: attack upfield through first cone...7 186.7 Third down Defense: .6 20. With the pursuit drill. motions. Requests to pick winners of football games can be deflected with a simple... “Our AFCA Code of Ethics does not allow us to predict game winners.. hit the ground. The drill is endless when it comes to adding on to it.. We want this drill to teach us a habit of always running to win on defense. In addition to providing an expert’s opinion to gamblers and others... We also will use stand-up dummies (which are substituted for the cones) to teach our players to run through the ball carrier on angle and sideline tackling..... and we’re going to the right. Our defensive improvement the two years we have been at SMU is shown above..” • AFCA Summer Manual — 1999 • . Emotion. cross charges between linemen.. pursuit angle fourth sideline cone... this occurs on coaches’ shows or at the request of the news media. we feel we have a chance to win. pursuit angle seventh sideline cone. Sam linebacker: Attack downhill through second cone. Nose: Attack upfield... we get into our base call with a zero-shade nose.24.. 2. with our G front and the pursuit going to the left.. and change up support with coverage checks or calls.. The pursuit drill helps us create these four components. pursuit angle third sideline cone.2 (14th) Scoring Defense: .. We key ball for movement...6 137... 4.. Stud end: Attack upfield.8 Passing Defense: . We do not want this drill just to become a conditioning drill. Frontside corner: Check deep attack first sideline cone. Frontside safety: Read step with tight end.3 143. Collision angle is now reduced between our Mike and nose. selecting game winners also creates bad feelings among fellow coaches.. You can also make players attack across the line of scrimmage. Mike linebacker: Attack downhill through third cone. We demand everything to be perfect! Diagram 4: SMU Pursuit Drill from Sam Left Call SMU Defensive Statistics (1996-1998) 1996 1997 1998 Rushing Defense: . as a staff.319 Turnovers: . don’t hesitate to call....478 .. Four Components of a Great Defense 1. No matter what happens in a game. We feel that our emphasis of getting to the ball is the number one reason for our improvement. We have moved from 76th in total defense in 1996 to 14th in the country in 1998.... pursuit angle second sideline cone.... pursuit angle fifth sideline cone.the defensive linemen.... Many times. trying to draw the defensive linemen off sides. The Mustangs have improved in all areas of defense in the past two years. We always emphasize running to the upfield side of cone to teach proper angles on tackling to eliminate any cutbacks. to simulate getting blocked and getting off the ground as quickly as possible and pursuing. Once the ball has been snapped or moved by a coach. The attitude and tempo we create with our pursuit drill is something we. Conclusion It has been an honor to represent our staff in writing this article for the AFCA Summer Manual..391. We always use a ball with a hard snap count.. Attack fourth cone.. seat roll etc... believe in and hope in some way might benefit you and your program. Backside corner: Check deep... Don’t Predict Game Winners The AFCA Ethics Committee reminds members that predicting game winners is a violation of the AFCA Code of Ethics... Once we teach the pursuit. we can get into formation adjustment.1 21. Backside safety: Check cutback...335 .24 27 28 Diagram 4 shows us in a Sam left call. tight end walk..3 159........ if we are going to the right. Execution..

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