Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Nike Coach of the Year Clinic: Day 1

USC head coach Lane Kiffin
On Friday several of the other coaches and I left work early for the Nike Coach of the Year clinic in Pittsburgh, PA.  Due to some travel issues, we missed the first presenter (Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph).  That made me sad, because we were stuck with assistants . . .

Pitt QB coach Brooks Bollinger and WR coach Bobby Engram
In case you don't remember, Bollinger played quarterback at Wisconsin and Engram was a wideout for Penn State.  Both are pretty young coaches, so they probably deserve a little bit of slack.  However, neither one seemed particularly focused, so they ended up bouncing from topic to topic without saying much of substance.  Therefore, I didn't jot down any notes about what they presented.

Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops
I got a lot from Stoops, who was Florida State's defensive coordinator for the past couple seasons, prior to being hired at Kentucky this offseason.  I expected him to be a little funnier and more fiery, but he was a pretty straitlaced speaker.  However, I got a lot from him.  He talked about essentially running a 4-1-6 defense against the spread, leaving just one linebacker in the middle.  If the defensive linemen read pass, they take one game and try to get to the quarterback, while the middle linebacker looks for screens and draws.  If the defensive linemen read run, they try to two-gap their man and get to the football.  Obviously, with only five guys covering six gaps, the defensive linemen need to help out the middle linebacker.  By putting just five guys in the box, FSU could cover the four (or five) wideouts adequately.

Connecticut head coach Paul Pasqualoni
Pasqualoni was the first coach to really show some fire, but he was a very serious guy.  He used to be the head coach at Syracuse and has since worked for the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys.  I have some philosophical differences with Pasqualoni, who prefers a 3-4 defense that eschews penetration from the defensive linemen in favor of creating an "umbrella" at the line of scrimmage and making it "muddy" for running backs.  He likes his defensive linemen to have a balanced stance (feet nearly even), take short steps, and get their hands on the opposing linemen's shoulder pads.  I don't know that I've sat through a clinic presentation by a defensive line coach who's more 3-4 (I'm more familiar with even fronts), so it was interesting.  It's all on the way to learning more and getting better as a coach, though, so maybe I'll be able to use his tips sometime down the road.

USC head coach Lane Kiffin
Kiffin walked in wearing a white T-shirt and jogging pants.  For whatever reason, I expected him to be shorter and a little pudgy, but he's actually a tall, very fit guy.  He was supposed to be talking about his version of the West Coast offense, but he ended up talking more about his coaching philosophy than anything else.  It was sort of an odd choice of topics, because he constantly talked about getting kids to believe in their coach, not BSing players, and telling them what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear.  That message doesn't really jive with his public persona, so I'm wondering if it was meant as a little bit of a public relations message.  Perhaps he's trying to rehab his image.  Regardless, he was a pretty funny guy and made several self-deprecating jokes like "Do you guys have any questions, maybe about how to take a preseason #1 team and run it into the ground?"  He also put together a list of questions he likes to ask about an opponent's defense each week.  Here's the list he shared:

  • Who's their best pass rusher?
  • What do the defensive ends do on nakeds?
  • Do they stem their defensive line?
  • Who is the best blitzing linebacker? What's his technique?
  • Do their linebackers Green Dog with man coverage?
  • Do they have defensive back pressures?
  • Do they use zone pressure, man pressure, or a combination?
  • What are blitz tendencies by down and distance?
  • What are blitz tendencies by personnel groupings?
  • What are tendencies by field position?
Overall, it was an interesting and informative day with Stoops and Kiffin the highlights.


  1. What is green dog? If you had to answer lanes questions RR; Michigan, what would you say?

    1. A "Green Dog" is where linebackers in man coverage blitz if/when their coverage responsibilities stay in to block. So if the MIKE linebacker has Vincent Smith in man coverage, and Smith stayed in to block, the MIKE would then rush the passer.

    2. To answer your questions off the top of my head...

      Best pass rusher: Jake Ryan
      What do defensive ends do on nakeds? It depends - Craig Roh stayed home but Clark likes to bite on run action.
      Stem DL? Rarely.
      Best blitzing LB: Jake Ryan (technique = bull rush or rip move, IIRC)
      Green Dog? I don't think so, at least not often.
      DB pressures? Yes, from SS and slot corner, occasionally from boundary corner.
      Zone pressure or man pressure? Both.

      As for the last three questions, that would require film study. I can't give you a solid answer off the top of my head.

  2. What are nakeds and stemming the DL?

    1. naked = naked bootleg (aka the QB fakes a handoff and then rolls out to one side without a blocker in front

      stemming the DL = the defensive linemen repositioning themselves after the QB starts his cadence