By Rob Everett
Former Defensive Coordinator
Bridgewater College (VA)
The process of creating a weekly game plan is a fluid experience. The game plan and corresponding practice plan, should contain elements of familiarity, while incorporating opponent specific components that will get your team ready to perform at its best. This article will focus on the daily workflow of a game planning method we use at Bridgewater College. Each day contains a different phase of the game plan, which will be outlined below. If you are playing on Friday, aim for the game plan to be locked by Wednesday after practice so your team can settle in. It is ok to let them know the staff may be “testing” things to see how they look in practice. It is important to note, no way is the “right” way; coaches should be true to themselves and their teams in order to maximize results.
No matter what the time distribution is, the best approach is an inclusive and diverse teaching style that addresses all the players needs. There are many (free) products out there that supplement a good practice and allow the players and coaches to interact in an additional environment. At Bridgewater College, we use the free simulation program Go Army Edge, which allows us to get on the field in the players eyes (goarmyedge.com). Also, we use google forms to assess and survey our players to understand what they are (or are not) learning. This information helps build the practice plan.
Before a game plan can even be begun, the cataloging of opponent film and data must be done. With the accessibility and ease of the video software that most teams have at their disposal, there is no excuse not to have data points attached to film. Even if your staff is small, there are easy (and cheap) ways to get this data entered. In previous years, we have had student assistants enter data during the school day. They were not football players, but rather students who were interested in being involved with the program or the field of athletic support. The more data entered at the start the better, as this will be the foundation of your teams defensive strategy.
Once the data is entered, your staff should be able to grab a big picture overview of the opponent, which will provide the first step in finding important differences in situations that arise that can be exploited. The following are certain situations to investigate for differences from your opponent’s norm:
- Down and Distance
- Backfield Set
- Score Differential
- Field Zone (Horizontally & Vertically)
- Previous Play Result
Have a base set of situations to investigate and cross reference, but use your instincts on things that may be unique to each opponent.
DAY 1 – ALL DOWN DAY
The first day of the week should be a replica of your pre-season install. The 2 to 4 base coverages and 1 or 2 fronts that you put in as your foundation of the defense. As the season goes on, you may consider pairing down the All Down calls to 1 or 2 that you are most efficient with. These are the calls that you can call on 1st down or non-descript 2nd and 3rd downs. All downs calls should contain a zone and man free concept and have set formation adjustment rules (empty, motion, 2 back, etc.)