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Do Your Job

I've finally had time to take a long deep look at Smart Football and there's so much good stuff there, you literally could lose half a day reading all of the material. Some of the figures and numbers simply go straight over my head, but I am a very simple human and you'll more than likely understand it much better than myself.

I finally had a chance to sit down an read Chris's article "TTech's 31-point Comeback and the Hot Hand Theory". Thanks to Chris I've almost been able to ignore my wife since I arrived home from work yesterday.

Chris's main contention focused on the idea that there is no such thing as a "hot hand", but rather a team is what it is and will prove that itself over a period of time (sometimes during the course of a season, sometimes during the course of a game). Personally, I've always believed in the "hot hand" theory from a psychological perspective, in that once something good happens, there's a certain snowball effect to a team or a player and his psyche which in turn creates success. Chris maintains that a basketball player who makes 12 of 16 shots during a game will have inevitably have a game where the same player where he shots 1 for 14, thus evening out the average. The reason that some people are more "clutch" is that there are players who have performed a certain act so many times that there's no longer any trepidation about performing that act.

As we focus on Texas Tech, Chris believes that a reason why Texas Tech is so successful in scoring is because, quite simply, they do their job.

One thing that is unique to Tech is something Dick Vermeil mentioned while announcing the game: If ever there was a team designed to come back from 31 down, it is Tech. They literally had to change nothing in their offense. They are always trying to score, get first downs, be patient and methodical, and put pressure on the defense.

What a boring thing to say, but to me, is the ultimate compliment.

Chris really nails home the point with the following thought about the need to be consistent with what you do. As I fondly remember that game against Minnesota, the second half wasn't about one particular play or one play or one dominating player or one hugely crucial moment. It was about consistency:

This is an empowering thought, and in many ways the fact that the coaches and players believe that at core the offense will "come around" and "play like normal" helps them stay relaxed and able to execute. I think it is also a lesson to playcallers, coaches, and players to stay patient, understand the plan, and to think about the big picture. It also puts individual quarters, plays, and games in perspective. A very good QB can have a very bad half or quarter that is little more than "bad luck" in a very real and scientific sense. It exposes media and opposing coaches as nearsighted and uninformed when they watch Tech have a bad series or half and deride Leach's "gimmick" offense, ignoring the years of incredible productivity.

As I think back to Coach Leach's halftime speech, what one point did he hammer home with the players?

"Do your job."

It is simple and it isn't flashy (this in itself is the definition of Coach Leach), but it's so important to being a good, scratch that, great football team. Chris says it so much better:

I think what made Leach come to tears after the game is that everyone on the team--coaches, player, fans--went about their business as usual. Tech didn't come back by launching hail marys, running trick plays (not to take anything away from Boise--who outplayed and outcoached OU for the entire game), grabbing turnovers or even really getting lucky breaks. Everyone bought into the system and the program, did their job, played smart football, and performed.

I think what brought Leach to tears is the realization that, for young kids in the hyperbolic football world, sometimes it's brave and valiant simply to do your job.

It's all so true and it's what makes so many things so interesting for the upcoming football season. We have the same quarterback who, after a season on the job and learning that he must be composed and do his job. We had wide receivers who just made plays and played within themselves, taking what the defenses game the Red Raiders and a running back that just scored touchdowns when given the ball. We had an offensive line that gave Harrell the protection he needed to do his job.

Without a doubt, this is the biggest reason for uncertainty heading into this 2007 season, we have not seen guys who have done their job, but something tells me that this isn't the first time that these guys have heard the saying, "Do your job." They've been preparing to do their job as long as they've been on campus and strangely enough I have a tremendous amount of confidence that they all feel the same way. Conversely, this is also the biggest reason for the potential for incredible success, is that Texas Tech has talent on offense and defense that this program has never seen.

Here's a small digression that I had to add to this post and I won't get into my thoughts today, but this simply reinforces why Coach Leach demands consistency. Chris posted Hal Mumme's Air Raid Practice Plan. I'm going to copy the whole thing and post it after the jump, for my own reference purposes, but it's truly interesting stuff.


Practicing the Multiple Receiver Offense

Practice schedules and drills for the pass offense are not a lot different than those for the conventional offense but I believe a great deal of thought and preparation must be done to achieve success. In the "Air Raid" offense I have used for many years at several different levels certain nuisances have lent themselves to practicing well. I will detail these things in the article with hope it will help you.

Make Practice Consistent

The pass offense depends much on timing and chemistry between players i.e. QB and WR on route, this makes consistent practice a must. I always tried to erase doubt in the players' minds as to what would be done in practice on any given day. I endeavored to make all the Mondays the same, all the Tuesdays the same, etc. By keeping a consistent practice schedule through each game week of the season our players could gear up mentally for the tasks to be accomplished in each segment of practice. To give an example, our individual drills were all done the same way and same segment of each day's work out. Consistent practice makes for consistent reps, which make for great reps, which makes for great play.

Practice Success

That old saying about you play like you practice is true. It was always my belief that five great reps of anything were worth more than ten mediocre reps. With this in mind, I encouraged our players to slow down their reps but to do them great. For example, if you have a QB and two WR working on the curl route don't rush through the drill just so you can say you got ten reps. It will be a lot more productive to have the WR walk back between reps, take there time, and have five great curl routes each one perfect. Hustle is fine but is not the only ingredient. Practice successful reps even if it means fewer reps.

I never wanted to practice anything that a player could not visualize doing in a game. The successful coach should look at every drill - be it individual, group, or team type - and ask himself if this will happen in a game. If this answer is no, throw it out, it is wasted motion, which means lost time. The only resource that cannot be replaced is time. Knowing you can eliminate poor drills, look at the fruitful drills. Take each one and study how you can make them more game-like. For example, our "Air Raid" offense depended greatly on multiple sets, player groupings, and the no huddle attack. With those parameters, I decided to make all of our team offense drills more game-like by having the sideline coaches and players box painted on our practice field and requiring all our coaches and players to work and sub from where they would in the game on Saturday. This greatly enhanced the efficient use of subs and made delay of game penalties unheard of in our offense. I believe players will perform better in games if they can visualize what it will be like therefore practice game-like events.

Practice for the Unplanned Event

Every coach loves that play which happened just the way he drew it up. To be honest about it though, those are more rare than ordinary. This is particularly true in the pass offense. Practicing contingency football is very important. I would take each of our pass plays and draw up what would happen if our QB were forced to scramble to his right and then repeat the process with a scramble left. I would drill this about ten minutes per a week to make sure everyone knew where to go on the field if the QB scrambled right or left. I had landmarks for each receiver and the offense of line and running backs had specific duties. Our teams often made spectacular plays when the opponent's defense played its best and forced our QB from the pocket. We turned our lemons into lemonade so to speak because we practiced the unplanned event.

Practice Organization is crucial to having an effective multiple receiver pass attack.

Practice Making the Big Play

Scores happen because players expect them to take place. I have certain things I want accomplished on each play from each player but the bottom line is to score. With that in mind, I made it mandatory that whomever ended up with the ball on any play had to cross the goal. In other words, our players scored on every play in practice, from individual drill right through team. I wanted all of the players to expect to score on every play. This takes some patience since the coach has to give the ball carrier time to return from the sprint to the goal. The results are worthwhile, as big plays can become habit.

Plan Success

All the practice habits described can be planned into workouts. The best time to plan workouts for the season is in the summer when the pressure is off. For this reason all of the workouts for the entire fall including bowl games or playoffs I planned in July. They were organized by day of the week and placed in a large binder to be used as needed on a daily basis. It was always amazing how few changes had to be made and how consistent our offense would become due to this planning. The most important time during the game week are the moments coaches spend with their players. By not having to devote daily time to planning practice schedules the coach has more time to spend with the players. Success can be planned well in advance.

Basic "Air Raid" Weekly Schedule-Season

90 min. view previous game
30 min. dress-warm-up
40 min. special teams review
20 min. individual drills
30 min. walk through game plan
30 min. watch video of upcoming opponent

30 min. watch video of upcoming opponent
15 min. warm-up
15 min. special teams/individual time for uninvolved
20 min. individual drills
10 min. group routes on air/OL individual drills
10 min. one on one DB-WR/inside drill
10 min. team screens
5 min. special teams
20 min. pass skel
25 min. team offense: coming off goal, open field, third and short, FGS
30 min. individual meet watch days work-out

30 min. watch video of upcoming opponent
15 min. warm-up
15 min. special teams/individual time for uninvolved
20 min. individual
10 min. one on one DB-WR/inside drill
20 min. pass skel
55 min. team: goal line, red zone, third and long, open field, punt
30 min. individual meet watch days work-out

20 min. team meet watch previous days team video
10 min. individual meet study opponents
15 min. warm-up
35 min. special teams/individual for uninvolved
10 min. individual
10 min. team scramble drill
55 min. team game plan
10 min. sideline sub special teams
No meetings after practice

Travel and meetings