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Capture123By Justin Iske, Offensive Line Coach, Southwestern Oklahoma State University

With the season about to start, you are likely planning your first position meeting. Find out what Coach Iske is sure to cover first thing when his players show up on campus.

By Justin Iske
Offensive Line Coach
Southwestern Oklahoma State University
Twitter: @justiniske


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The first meeting of the season is an exciting time for both coaches and players. As a coach, it is easy to simply jump right into the nuts and bolts of installing the offense. However, we think that it is very important to cover some philosophical things first. Here is an inside look at what I teach during those initial meetings to make sure the groundwork is set for a successful season.

#1 Set Expectations:

  1. Be Coachable: Do things the way that we tell you do them. All five guys must be on the same page or we are all in trouble. If you want to do your own thing, you cannot play for us.
  2. Be a Prick: When you walk across the white line for practice or a game, you need to flip the switch. We have to be nasty and take every legal shot that we can.
  3. Be Relentless: Nothing but 100% effort from the snap to the echo of the whistle is acceptable.

#2 Philosophy:

It takes a special person to play or coach the offensive line. We will receive no positive recognition from anyone outside our room. If we are successful on offense, it will be because our backs and/or receivers did well. If we are unsuccessful, our unit will take most of the blame. There are no individual stats for us. We are only as strong as our weakest link up front. The only time we will be noticed is when we are called for a penalty or give up a sack.

We grade our players every play of practice in four categories: Assignment, Technique, Effort, and Factor. The five best guys will be on the field regardless of what position they play and the depth chart is always written in pencil. What have you done for me lately?

The number one attribute of a good offensive lineman is toughness (both mental and physical). Flexibility, strength, balance, quickness, and intelligence are all important, but the guys that will play are the guys who we would want with us in a street fight. Our job is to test you in practice and the off-season to find out if you are tough enough to represent us on the field.

#3 Procedures:

Your players must understand how tempo, formation, and play calls will be communicated. Again, everyone must be on the same page. Covering stance, line splits, and alignment on or off the ball is important as well.

#4 Drills:

When teaching new players drills, it is much easier to show them on film then it is to describe them. We don’t want to waste individual time, so we show our guys the proper way to do each drill on film and make sure that they know what each drill is called. Having simple names for your drills allows your players to get set-up quickly and to maximize your time. We also think it’s important that individual time is the hardest, most up-tempo part of practice. We all have our own drills that we like, but your drills must simulate game situations. If you don’t see a drill showing up on practice and/or game film, get rid of it.

#5 Installation:

No matter how good you are on the white board, players will learn plays and techniques much better by watching them on film then they will by you drawing it up. Pick out a few good examples (and a few bad ones) of each play you are installing. Show them rather than tell them.

#6 Line Calls/Communication (and Video)…

Join X&O Labs’ Insiders (an exclusive membership-based website) and get instant access to the full-length version of Coach Iske’s clinic report. Plus, you’ll also receive up to 4 FREE books mailed directly to your front door from X&O Labs bookstore. Here’s a small sample of what you’re missing in Coach Iske’s full-length clinic report…

  • Watch Coach Iske’s offensive line drill work, along with coaching points, that Coach is using this fall at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
  • 5 points of emphasis of run blocking he’ll be teaching his linemen during camp.
  • 5 points of emphasis of pass blocking he’ll be teaching his linemen during camp.
  • Coach Iske’s complete Day One Installation tape, which covers the Inside Zone, Inside Zone Screen and Turn Protection concepts. This film has the same coaching points he will address with his players in camp.

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Finally, your players must realize that your group is a family. Your job as a coach goes well beyond making them better football players. You must be available to them at all times. Our players know that our doors are always open and our cell phones are always on. If your players know that you have their back, they will play hard for you. Alex Gibbs, one of the best o-line coaches to ever carry a whistle, put it best when he said, “The chemistry of your group is much more important than any scheme or technique.”


Meet Coach Iske: Justin Iske joins the SWOSU Football coaching staff for the 2015 season as the Bulldogs offensive line coach. Iske, a 19-year veteran of the coaching profession, comes to Weatherford after coaching the offensive line at Fort Hays State for the past four seasons. While at FHSU, Iske helped the Tigers increase their win total in all four seasons while mentoring eight All-MIAA selections and one All-Super Region 3 honoree. During Iske’s tenure in Hays, the FHSU offensive line helped produce an average of better than 2,000 yards rushing and 2,000 passing per season. Iske is no stranger to the state of Oklahoma after spending two seasons at Northwestern Oklahoma State as the offensive coordinator, special teams coordinator and offensive line coach. The Rangers won a CSFL Championship and advanced to the NAIA Playoffs in 2010, his final season in Alva, and had an overall record of 15-6 during his two seasons. Iske helped five offensive linemen – including former SWOSU graduate assistant Adam Aguirre - to All-CSFL honors in two seasons.



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