This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Tom Callahan Defensive Coach Highland Park High School Dallas, Tex.
efense is the cornerstone in any successful program. At Highland Park, we have established an aggressive but simple philosophy that has allowed us to be successful. Knowing where you are on the field and where your help is coming from helps us be aggressive by nature. We are a basic 4-3 scheme, an over shade nose look at times. We will be an eight-man front team while bringing various stunts to help compliment our chances of success. In the secondary, we will disguise our coverages when possible, but play no more than four or five different looks for our opponents. In determining what’s important in our defense, I will go over some philosophy, priorities and objectives that we want our defensive personnel aware of going into our ballgame. It is important that we as coaches prepare our kids as well as we can, but be as consistent in developing a plan that will put our defensive squad in a position to be the very best on game day. We are a gap control defense. We rely heavily on our intelligence of where everyone needs to be on formation recognition, and when that ball snaps, on our determination to defeat the blocker and get the ball. We pride ourselves in our team pursuit to be involved in the play. Since we still use the numbers defense, we have the flexibility to be various fronts if necessary. But by keeping it simple and allowing our players to be aggressive on their keys, this has helped our takeaway ratio for the year. This has allowed us to be sound in all areas of our defense. Principles of Defense 1. Defense must be a team effort; there is no place for selfishness in football. • Each man must know his individual assignment and responsibility and must take care of his country. • He must carry out his assignments positively in order that the defense may function as a unit. • Any gambling or hunch-playing by an individual can only lead to grief in the long run. Our defense is based on each man carrying out his assignment completely. Any breakdown can be traced to the failure of a man to carry out his responsibility. • Each play is individual and is designed to score. Therefore, you must play each play completely out until the whistle is blown. 2. Pass defense is the great challenge!
• It starts with pressure on the passer. The pressure must be sound — the pass rushers must stay in their lanes and get to the passer by the direct route. The passer must be contained. If he is allowed to run out of the pocket and away from the rush, it will hurt us. • Our linebackers must hold up and generally create havoc in order to disrupt the timing and/or patterns of the receivers. They must know their coverage and hold up in a manner that will not take them out of position. Never let a receiver cross in front of you unmolested. Eliminate him! Earn the respect of receivers by punishing and harassing him. If you can make the receiver become more concerned about hitting him than catching the football, your job is half-done before the play begins. • Our defensive backs must learn their responsibilities and the technique that must be used to enable them to cover their responsibilities. They must realize that the secret of covering a pass receiver is concentration and desire. 3. Desire is the secret of defense. • In order to defend against the pass, you must first make the correct adjustment to the offensive formation according to the coverage called. In order to do so, you must know your assignments so well that they came as second nature to you. • The secret to making the tackle is a burning desire to get to the ballcarrier and then to drive your hat into the football. Have complete concentration on your target. Power without balance is wasted. The two must be coordinated. • The secret of rushing the passer is simply the desire to get there. Never allow a receiver to run free past you. • The secret of holding up a receiver is complete concentration on your target. 4. The defense must know the opponent’s offense! • Know the enemy. No one is so good that he does not need all of the help he can get against the team we will play. • Know the tendencies. All teams have pet plays and receivers or ballcarriers in certain situations. By your extra effort, this can make the difference between you and your team being average and great. 5. Victory comes at a price, and this price is high. You must pay it if we are to carry on the Scot tradition! •A total dedication is a must both on and off the field.
• AFCA Summer Manual — 1999 •
• The test of this willingness will be your every act. Your promptness to all meetings, your hustle in practice, your attitude toward work, school, teammates and coaches. The coaches and your teammates can tell if football is important to you. There is no place for indifference in athletics. 6. Everything the coaches do is in terms of what is best for the Scots. • The things you are asked to do are not to incur a hardship on you. They are the things the coaching staff believes are necessary and in the best interest of the team. • These things will be neither impossible nor unreasonable, but will be the win-tested necessities. • The coaching staff will tell you, show you, and do everything in their power to get you to use what they believe are the best tools in the business, but it is still up to you to use them. The Importance of Defense 1. If they can’t score, they surely can’t beat you. 2. The defense can score six ways: • Blocked punts. • Intercepted pass. • Punt return. • Recovered fumble. • Safety. • Return field goal. 3. The offense can score four ways: • Run • Pass • Field goal • Kick off return 4. These defensive scores are not breaks of the game. • You have to know what to do. • You have to work on it, not just talk about it. 5. Each team will have the football approximately 12 times per game. If we can recover two fumbles and intercept two passes, we have cut their chances of scoring almost 33 percent. Each time they lose the ball without a punt, the defense has picked up approximately 35 yards four of these are 140 yards We wonít have anything like a 35-yard average on any of our offensive plays. If we work on punt returns, we should average from eight-to-10 yards per return, and we will, because of our great effort and confidence in our return, bring one back all of the way occasionally. In any event, a 10yard average on a play is more than we will average on most of our offensive plays. We
are guaranteed five plays on offense, and our first play is our punt return. We should field every punt we can safely. We not only get the yardage, but we also save the yardage we would lose on a bad bounce toward our goal. Our safety must be a center fielder and break at the crack of the bat. Rules for Successful Defense 1. Know the down and distance. 2. Know the position on the field and what an opponent usually does in the position. 3. Know opponent’s best personnel in that situation, and what you expect from watching practice and films. 4. Know the defensive game plan which includes normal, short yardage, long yardage, and what to do in the different areas of the field. 5. Keep your poise, whether ahead or behind in the last two minutes of the game. We must know our available time outs and what to do when they are used up. 6. Know your scouting report. It is prepared for your benefit. To become a successful part of our defensive team, it is necessary that you study and thoroughly understand your opponents. Defensive Philosophy Football is a team game. The quality of the team is more than just the sum of 11 players. All 11 playing the call with good discipline make the sum greater than the total of 11 individual talents. This creates overlap, which is the secret to consistently successful performance. Overlap means that everyone does his job so thoroughly that there is always more than one man making a play. 1. Failure occurs for several reasons: 2. Breakdown in responsibility. 3. Breakdown in adjustments. 4. Poor techniques. 5. Being physically beaten. Anyone on our squad will have enough physical ability to compete most of the time. Being physically beaten is actually the most acceptable failure, since it is possible for someone else to be physically superior. It is not necessary to fail in responsibilities, adjustments, or techniques; you can control all of these. There are some assumptions about our players that we make and are a part of being here: 1. Everyone is a hitter. 2. Everyone finishes every play.
3. Everyone can apply self-discipline to his play. 4. Everyone can mentally prepare himself. 5. “Bad days” or “bad downs” don’t have to occur. There are some attitudes all of us should establish: 1. Believe in the availability of success. 2. Develop winning habits day by day. 3. Mental toughness — performance under pressure. 4. Allow no ”unearned” scores. Mental preparation involves several things: 1. Relate your responsibility to your technique — your job helps you understand how you want to play. 2. Relate your responsibility to those of your teammates — this allows for more positive and aggressive play. 3. Develop a mental picture of yourself actually playing the game. 4. Achieve an understanding of the offense, not just memorization of tendencies, etc. 5. Know what you have to get done and what you might also get done — keep your priorities in order. Defensive Priorities To be a good defensive football team, you must place special emphasis on the following things. You will be working on these every day in practice. It will be very repetitious and at times may seem monotonous, but you as a football player must mentally prepare yourself to work hard on them every day. You can’t loaf through them or toward the middle of the season, you will go downhill as a player. The only way to improve on them is to continually work on them, and we know from experience as coaches, that key, technique, quickness and tackling are the most important things to have a good defense. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t spend every day in practice working on them. Key Before you do anything else on defense, you must read your key. You must concentrate on your key in practice every day. This is mental. Learn your assignments early in the week so you are not confused and can be aggressive. Technique This is the next thing that will happen to you after you read your key.
• AFCA Summer Manual — 1999 •
Take people on tough. Control the line of scrimmage. Be aggressive in your technique and don’t just control the offensive man, but whip him. Concentrate every day in team work and your technique will improve. Quickness After your key and you play your technique, then immediately your quickness becomes of utmost importance. You can never be too quick. It is possible to give up some size and strength for quickness and play. You can never give up quickness for size and strength, though. Your quickness will give you great team pursuit and gang-tackling. To improve quickness, you must concentrate in practice on the many drills we use to improve foot speed. Defensive Objectives Prevent the Offense from Scoring: This is our primary objective. Force Turnovers: Meeting this objective will enable us to: score, set up scores for the offense, give the offense field position and stop drives. Control Field Position: Develop a sense of urgency to stop our opponent now! Prevent the Big Play: Don’t give them an easy score. Accept and meet the challenge of sudden change. Score on defense. The Approach to Successful Defense Hard work and great effort. Physically On The Field: Work hard to improve techniques and skills. Work hard to get into and maintain great condition. Develop effort habit in practice — go full speed from snap to whistle. You must practice hard to play hard. Physically Off The Field: Added strength and flexibility will give us the winning edge. Mentally On The Field: Listen, concentrate, and absorb coaching; then apply it physically. Mentally Off The Field: Concentrate in meetings. Know your assignments perfectly. Study your playbooks, scout report, and game plans. Discipline Play the defense called.
Play your techniques properly and eliminate mistakes. Don’t guess — have confidence that your teammate will do his job. Toughness We must be physical and we must be aggressive. We must punish our opponent with aggressive hitting and gang-tackling. Play with Confidence and Poise Eliminate careless errors and penalties. Most games are won in the fourth quarter. Believe and play like you always have a chance to win. Playing the game requires awareness of the following things: Situation 1. Down and distance. 2. Yard line. 3. Score. 4. Time remaining. 5. Weather. Offense 1. Formation. 2. Personnel. 3. Play selection history. 4. Tips and cheats. 5. Audible mechanics. Rules 1. Playing rules. 2. Some administration rules. Down and Distance Theory As a defensive unit, we must at all times know the down and distance situation. Our opponents will, in most instances, classify themselves according to down and distance as to the formations they will use, and the type of play (pass or run-inside or outside) we should be expecting. With this in mind, you should memorize the following down and distance chart to better help you understand how we try to act our defenses up, and to help you prepare yourself for the situations that will present themselves. First and 10. Second and three-to-six (Normal). Second and seven or more (Long). Third and one-to-two (Short). Third and three-to-five (Medium). Third and six or more (Long). First and 10 We must expect in this instance either pass or run, and use one of our combina-
tion defenses which gives us an excellent running defense plus a strong passing defense. At times, due to calculated frequencies through our scouting system, we may concentrate more emphasis on one phase of their attack rather than the other in the particular down and distance. Good time to offset or use sound stunt to cause blocking problems. Second and One-to-Two Waste Down Many teams have a tendency to go for a home run play on second and one or two. Second and Three-toSix Yards to Go In this situation, percentages tend to show that most teams will favor their running attacks, although this does not eliminate the possibility of a pass. Due to such a percentage, we would tend to select one of our running defenses that is designed to impair our opponent’s running game, but still gives us ample pass coverage. Second and Seven or More Yards to Go Due to a high frequency of pass plays by most teams in a second and long situation, we will concentrate our defenses on stopping the passing game. Good time to rush passer. Third and One-to-Two Yards to Go We must expect our opponents to select their best offensive play in this situation. We will definitely concentrate on stopping their best play with our best running defense. Our theory is to meet strength with strength in this situation. We must stop their offense for no gain or a loss in this situation. Third and Three-to-Five Yards to Go We regard this situation in theory the same as second down and normal, but whatever the offense selects to run against us, we must hold them to less than six yards to force them into a kicking situation. Third and Six or More Yards to Go In this situation, we find through percentages that most of our opponents tend to rely upon their passing game more frequently than their running game. With this in mind, we will select one of our defenses that is designed to give us maximum pass coverage. In other instances, we may select one of our blitzing defenses to cause the opposing quarterback to suffer from
• AFCA Summer Manual — 1999 •
undue pressure, thus disturbing the timing of their passing attack. Screens Tendencies Down and distance. Formations. Field position. Game situation. Anticipated defense. Play Recognition Receiver tips. Line — Sets and timing. Backs and quarterback — Atypical pass movements. Responsibilities By defense called. Due to offensive action. Draws Tendencies Down and distance. Formations. Field position. Game situation. Anticipated defense. Play Recognition Line — Set and go techniques. Backs and quarterback — Atypical pass movements. Receiver releases and routes. Responsibilities By defense called. Due to offensive action. Receiver Splits Run/Pass Tendencies Formation. Down and distance. Pattern Tendencies Formation. Down and distance. Run/Pass Toward variation. Away from variation. Receiver Motion Run/Pass Tendencies Formation. Down and distance. Pattern Tendencies Formation. Down and distance.
Run/Pass Toward variation. Away from variation. Backfield Motion Run/Pass Tendencies Formation. Down and distance. Pattern Tendencies Formation. Down and distance. Run/Pass Toward variation. Away from variation. Tight End Tips Loose Run/Pass tendency. Pattern tendency. Backfield set relationship. Stance Left/right stagger. Weight distribution. Line Tips Splits Maximum. Minimum. Down and distance. Backfield sets. Run/pass. Point of attack (Backfield set?). Stance Stagger. Weight distribution. Backfield Tips Stance Stagger. Weight distribution. Fullback Cheats Up/Back. Strong/Weak. Halfback Cheats Up/Back. In/Out. Offensive Cadence and Audibles Pre-snap look mechanics. Audible procedures. Live sounds. Recognizable audibles. Quick/long count off-side techniques.
Fumble Tendencies Ball-handling characteristics. Intense area reactions. Scramble and Plaster Quarterback escape characteristics. Secondary routes. Quarterback Drops Types of drops and pass directions. Depth of drops and routes. Play-action and routes. Run/pass tips from quarterback stance. Substitutions Receivers. Backs. Procedures. Adjustment categories. Game Situation Caller Down and distance, time, score. Slow pile, fast pile, in-bounds, out-ofbounds. Time-out caller. Huddle General Game situation caller. Huddle discipline.
That’s what a coach asks of his players and that’s what the AFCA is asking of football coaching staffs at all 680 plus institutions fielding college football teams throughout the country. One hundred percent membership in the AFCA by coaching staffs will result in a more effective voice in matters 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.
• AFCA Summer Manual — 1999 •
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.