Patience required: Years needed to get down the basics

Submitted by StephenRKass on November 17th, 2010 at 2:53 PM

I was just reading an article about Wisconsin over at Scout. ( I was struck by one quote:

Bret Bielema and his staff are so thorough about such things, he saw rainy weather in last week's forecast and required the team's specialists to do a ton of "wet-ball drills."

The article focuses on how well Wisconsin protects the ball, but it made me think of something else. I remember how frustrated RR was in the Spring of 2008, and his comments on how many basics it was going to take a lot of time to get to the point of being second nature. I also think to our deer-in-the-headlights true freshmen in the defensive secondary, and how steep their learning curve is. And I remember Brian commenting on the coaching stability at Iowa, allowing them to learn schemes extremely well, because they don't change a lot.

With all we are doing, I think Michigan still doesn't have the luxury to spend lots of time on "wet ball drills." The coaching staff is cramming so much stuff in to our team, there is sensory and cognitive overload.

My question: how many years does it take for the team to learn the basics? When does the game slow down for everyone, not just the QB's? I'm hoping that we see this in 2011. However, just this week, RR was quoted saying that it has taken longer than he anticipated for the team to get where they are now. I'm starting to think that we won't really be clicking on all cylinders, in every aspect of the program, until the 2012 season. That's how long it will take for the basics, from tackling to route running, from QB reads to secondary schemes, to become second nature.



November 17th, 2010 at 6:27 PM ^

In a situation where a "180" is done as it was at Michigan, I think it will take until RR has mostly upperclassmen as starters or at least a class of his own seniors.  If a team is experienced, most of the players know what is going on, and they can "role model" it to incoming freshmen.  It is a lot easier when the coaching staff already has everything installed, and can then concentrate on the "finer points" and more individual coaching. 

As much as the "five year plan" has become a cliche in Michigan, thanks to the Lions, I would give RR a full five years to have things at their peak.  Even then, there can be dropoffs from year to year.  Mighty Florida has more losses than Michigan does right now. 


November 17th, 2010 at 7:01 PM ^

IMO it takes at least four years.  The biggest thing is learning HOW to practice.

RR basically started from scratch.  Not only does he need to teach his schemes to the players, he needs to also teach them and the coaches how to practice.

NCAA teams are limited in how many coaches they can have.  Upper classmen, that have been in the system for 3 to 5 years become coaches during practice and games to the younger players.


November 17th, 2010 at 7:48 PM ^

That's a great point that a lot people miss: by all accounts the practice demands and approach were way different from Coach Carr.  Football is the ultimate drill and repetition game.  

That distinctive program-wide culture doesn't take hold overnight.

This shouldn't fairly be compared to any other coaching change that has happened recently in college football. Rich came into an already very successful program but with a totally different style on offense. In a lot of ways it is way easier to make radical style changes to a losing program.  It is easier to get the full attention of the players.

The big P for patience.