Evolving Coaching Techniques

Submitted by Ziff72 on November 15th, 2012 at 10:04 AM

I just read Chris Brown's article on Chip Kelly.   Kelly has been covered pretty extensively so most of the stuff is not new to the readers of this blog, but I did find one thing in the article interesting as it pertains to Michigan.   The last few days the RR regime has been brought up again as his 1st full senior class comes to an end. 

Brian sighed as he was reminded that we didn't use blocking sleds when RR was here and Mattison's comments about the state of the defensive players always puzzled me as I think most coachces are more similar then they are different.   This quote from the article I think can help explain what was going on here.


For all of the hype surrounding Oregon games, Oregon practices might be even better. Oregon practices are filled with blaring music and players sprinting from drill to drill. Coaches interact with players primarily through whistles, air horns, and semi-communicative grunts. Operating under the constraint of NCAA-imposed practice time limits, Kelly's sessions are designed around one thing: maximizing time. Kelly's solution is simple: The practice field is for repetitions. Traditional "coaching" — correcting mistakes, showing a player how to step one way or another, or lecturing on this or that football topic — is better served in the film room.  ThiThe=

This sounds like what was going on in our practices and can maybe help explain why maybe our defensive fundamentals were lacking.   With so many young guys on defense maybe they had not been drilled enough in the fundamentals because it takes longer to learn it from film and doing it by yourself than repping it in practice.  Not saying one is wrong or right or better but it does appear to be a 180 in philosophy.  Obviously both coaches have had great success doing both.    Hoke and Mattison are big on teaching on the field and doing fundamentals where RR must have been relying on the players to pick it up from the film room. 

Maybe one is better for offense vs defense?   Not sure.   You guys can discuss that but for me it helps explain the differences more logically than believing are previous coaches had no idea on how to coach certain position groups.





His Dudeness

November 15th, 2012 at 10:23 AM ^

You are assuming our defense did something based on what an entirely different team does on offense and making a point based off from that assumption... sweet. OR maybe we just had a filthy stinking GERG and he had to be plunged out of our program?


November 15th, 2012 at 10:38 AM ^

I can understand that concept  but if I remember correctly, didn't Mattison say that the defense didn't even know how to watch film correctly


November 15th, 2012 at 10:38 AM ^

Success is surrounding yourself with good assistants, getting good recruits and getting buy-in from all of them. I don't think it matters if you run a practice slow or fast, loud or quiet.


November 15th, 2012 at 10:55 AM ^

It DOES matter...if that's what works for you.

"Success" is defined differently by everyone.  Your definition doesn't really work if you're losing football games, at least not how I see it.  I think being successful in terms of football is winning (without cheating).  All that other stuff you mentioned is secondary.


November 15th, 2012 at 10:48 AM ^

I think "maximizing" the effectiveness of practices under NCAA time limits is nice to publicize but not necessarily the full story. Back in 2009, I recalll listening to Big Suke (former BYU OL) on 1080 the Fan Portland talking about RR practice time "issues".  He says nearly all NCAA football coaches hand out a completed time cards for recording practice time which the players then sign. Suke's opinion was that RR was "too" honest.


November 15th, 2012 at 11:10 AM ^

A good friend's boyfriend played baseball for a smaller DI school, and when one of the players said something to someone in the AD about practice time, they were all required to sign incorrect time logs for the prior week before being allowed to practice again. After that, they were all in the same boat, to use his words, since they knowingly signed incorrect forms.

Also (at another school, in another sport) when a couple friends went to their coach about countable hours for the week, their coach used some..."creative accounting" to take the hours down enough to fit in another practice and scheduled a several hour long seminar with someone from compliance to go over time accounting for the NCAA. They got that message pretty quickly, as well.

Personally, I'd be pretty surprised if any coach was always able to keep their hours in line every single week. And in football, there's a multi-million dollar salary dependent on beating Team X next week, so the temptation is definitely around to shave fifteen minutes here or there, or not be totally honest with regards to what you supervised.


November 15th, 2012 at 11:41 AM ^

I'm not trying to say that everyone is out there practicing 30 or even 25 hours per week, just that the countable hours do get fudged a lot, which can add up over the course of a week or a season. A coach can swing a lot of time one way or another by reporting that they did or did not attend warmups, or reporting something as mandatory or "mandatory".

I also don't think every coach is inherently dirty, only that most push the rules to the limits with regards to practice, and the players aren't going to say anything about it, even if it does cross the line.

Coach Kyle

November 15th, 2012 at 11:11 AM ^

I think the article was trying to point out one of the advantages of the no huddle, and that is that you can run your team/scrimmage segment of practice much faster. The individual sessions are probably run with the same mentality, but I'm sure the coaches are still giving instructions when they see something wrong - why else would they be there? Air horns can be automated.

The quality of those instructions matter, too, and that's probably why we sucked... assuming that we were even doing that (maybe we sucked because our practices were slow AND our instructions were bad).


November 15th, 2012 at 12:00 PM ^

I would think a much larger part to why we sucked is youth. I am still baffled that Hoke is still coaching RichRod's first recruiting class in his 2nd year as our coach. It is probably a little easier to teach upperclassmen and have them apply it on the field than freshmen and sophomores

snarling wolverine

November 15th, 2012 at 6:15 PM ^

We have plenty of underclassmen in our defensive 2-deep right now.  This is not that experienced of a unit.   Moreover, some of our few seniors have been moved around during their careers - like Campbell and Roh - so they don't have as much experience at their positions as you'd expect.  Mattison & Co. have done a great job.




November 15th, 2012 at 6:43 PM ^

but our starting eleven on defense isn't an inexperienced unit (by age, as you mention in your edit). We're starting: 3RSSr, 2Sr, 2RSJ, 2RSSo, 2So. Of the two sophomores, one started the season as a backup and was brought in due to Countess' injury, the other started seven games (and appeared in every game).

The backups are a lot younger, with 1RSJ, 4J, 2So, 4F.


November 15th, 2012 at 11:52 AM ^

The problem with the "maximizing reps" philosophy is that it's easy to ingrain bad habits - as my old band director said, practice doesn't make perfect, PERFECT practice makes perfect"

On the other hand, going at a high pace in practice probably helps keep a high tempo on offense and allow the defense to respond to a high temp - something I do wish Hoke's Michigan teams were better at.


November 15th, 2012 at 11:57 AM ^

There is no problem with the "maximizing reps" philosophy, because the philosophy works (if implemented correctly).

There are various philosophies, systems, etc. that CAN and DO work on the high school, college, and NFL levels.  It's just a matter of the coaches and players being on the same page.


November 15th, 2012 at 12:40 PM ^

"Maximizing reps" is inherently a good thing.  I would assume that every coach would want to maximize the number of quality reps their atheletes are able to take.  That being said the way each coach does this will be influence by a huge number of things such as: offensive and defensive system, coaching philosiphy, team experience, and pripary practice goals. 

In the case of Kelly his practice style makes sense.  He runs a no huddle offense that is predicated on speed, and tempo.  Running practice with loud music, at high pace, with little verbal communication is a good idea.  He is managing to acheive high number of reps as well as physically condition his players and make no huddle communication effective.  Clearly this system works for him.  It may be helpful that Kelly's offense is not extremely complex.

On the other hand, coach Hoke has a different phylosophy.  He instead focuses on physicality and fundementals.  To this end he runs a slower paced practice with hard hitting drills and teaches technique often.  He is still "maximizing reps" but in a different way.  I think that Hoke and co. have been quite succesful as well.



November 15th, 2012 at 12:51 PM ^

The problem with that method is that it relies on Seniors, who have been in the same system for years to teach the younger guys. With an all new system and staff, that approach is crazy, especially when you are relying on Freshmen and Sophomores.


November 15th, 2012 at 2:18 PM ^

Did anyone hear Kobe Bryant say that when Phil Jackson was in LA they did defensive drills maybe 3 times and he just relied on us to "figure it out."  Was he being serious about that? 

03 Blue 07

November 15th, 2012 at 5:41 PM ^

No. I mean, I'm sure Kobe said it. I just don't believe it to be true. Would mean that he diametrically changed the coaching habits he (Jackson) had exhibited in multiple places and over more than a decade at multiple stops before L.A. 

Seems a hell of a lot more like Kobe PRspeak to make people (fans) feel less crappy about the recent hiring of D'Antonio over Jackson. 


November 15th, 2012 at 5:21 PM ^

I'm tired of the spread haters.  Narrative has so much power over data in people's reactions.  I'm as happy as anybody that Mattison is our coordinator, but there are some completely false narratives that many coaches still buy into:

Running the spread makes you weak on defense (weird, since Mattison was DC under Meyer).

Running the spread keeps your defense on the field longer and you don't win TOP, the most important stat in determining football dominance.

Spread teams don't get elite recruits since you need specialty players to run the spread.

Yada, yada, yada.  I've heard it all, and the worst is when you point to the great spread teams and what they did, and then the "spread haters" just claim that the particular team either "wasn't a true spread team" or that they had success before defenses caught up to the spread.  You can't talk to these people and they were the most anti-RR.

03 Blue 07

November 15th, 2012 at 5:53 PM ^

Couldn't agree more. The whole point of the spread-- at least, the philosophy employed by RR, Meyer, and Kelly-- is to run the football. It isn't "basketball on grass," and it is logically sound and, in some cases, can be philosophically superior to typical under center, 1 TE 2 RB 2 WR sets. A good contrast is Borges/Hoke's view that you block the LOS defender and leave the LB as the player you are optioning on certain zone read/inverted veer play sets, which is based on philosophy. RR had a different one (option the guy on the LOS/leave him unblocked), as does Kelly, et al.. I'm with Brian on who's got the better philosophy, at least on those plays (hint: not the current staff). 


November 16th, 2012 at 7:51 AM ^

A few retorts, because I think you're burning a ton of straw men here.

I don't think many argue that running the spread makes you weak on defense or hurt TOP. The argument is that running an offense predicated on PACE, no matter the formation, hurts TOP, and especially your defense. Florida and Urban don't run pace to the degree Rodriguez and Kelly do. Interestingly, Oregon has never had a great D. I do think that running pace doesn't preclude you from winning, but it can snowball things if you take a three and out or two. Oregon, these days, doesn't much have these problems. We will see what happens when they play a non-PAC 10 D. Traditionally it hasn't gone well.

Finally, the last point regarding recruits: how many times did this blog and board say: WELL ODOMS AND GALLON AND SMITH ARE GREAT FOR US, IF THEY WERE BIGGER THEY'D BE FOUR STARS. Almost every time we took a midget, right? How many times, in their recruitment, did we or Brian say they'd be rated better if they were bigger, but for us, it's fine they're not?

Blue boy johnson

November 16th, 2012 at 11:16 AM ^

I theorize (so far unsubstantiated AFAIK), the more inclement the weather, the less effective a spread offense is. The advantage of the high tempo spread attack in 80+ degree, humid weather, is far greater than a crisp 35-45 degree November day. I am hoping it is about 30 degrees in Columbus when the Wolverines head there on November 24

Coldest November 24 in Columbus history is 1950 at a cool 8 degrees, the next day, November 25, 1950 was date of the infamous Snow Bowl between M and OSU.

As a side bar: I think Oregon's most vulnerable game of the year will be vs Oregon State this Nov. 24. Likely to be cool and rainy in Corvallis, Oregon State is a quality team, and it is a rivalry game.