By Jason Brown
St. Charles Catholic High School (LA)
It is truly a pleasure to represent St. Charles Catholic High School and our entire staff as well as share our thoughts on defensive quality control. We don’t have all the answers. We are constantly looking for better ways to do things. Hopefully this article will stimulate thought and lead to better solutions to the more complicated problems that occur as the game of football evolves. When we think of quality control we should think of how we are measuring (statistically) our methodology-- which is simply the way we are trying to implement our philosophy of defense. Our philosophy of defense is to not let the offense move the ball effectively. How we are going to do that is our method. Then we must constantly evaluate if that method is helping us fulfill the philosophy that we have set.
The first thing we came up with to test the method is to identify specific goals that tell us if we had a good game defensively. This goal board is updated weekly so that our players can see how well we are accomplishing our game goals. We need to be able to show them specifically why we are playing defense effectively. Simply saying we aren’t playing well is not good enough. We need to be very specific, with them and ourselves, about the things that we do well and what we need to do to get better. The goals we have on our board tell the players what we think it takes to play good defense.
Our first goal on defense is to win the game. That is the number one goal of the whole program and we sell that to our players every day. Some games the offense is going to have to bail the defense out in a scoring fest and other nights the defense is going to have to pick up the offense by putting up a shutout or scoring themselves. Let’s face it! Winning is a very fragile thing and should be appreciated no matter how it gets done.
Our next goal is to limit the opponent to 17 points or less. Years ago this number used to be 13 but with the potency of good offenses the tolerance level of this number had to increase. The next goal is to hold the offense to 3.3 yards per rushing attempt. We feel if we can keep it within our tolerance level we are playing good run defense. The next goal is to limit the opponent’s yards per pass to 5 yards. I know this sounds impossible but for this goal we actually minus true sacks (pass attempts not Q-Runs) off of the passing yards not the rushing yards, therefore creating an attainable goal.
The next goal is to force at least two turnovers a game. If we get this number our chances of winning go up tremendously. We do count wins on 4th down by our defense as turnovers because of the field position gain.
The next goal is no big plays. For runs, that is 15 yards or more and for passes it is 20 yards or more. This goal is getting harder and harder to accomplish will all the things offenses are doing but it is still a standard we hold our kids to on our goal board.
Another goal is no TDs when the ball gets in the Red Zone. We want to be real good in this area and make offenses settle for field goal attempts. We have found that even if good offenses are piling up yards if we can out execute them in the Red Zone it will pay huge dividends for us in winning the game.
The last goal we have is to be 70% efficient on 3rd down. Third down percentage is huge for us and we spend a huge amount of time giving our kids the tools to get off the field on 3rd down. We all know you can be real good on 1st and 2nd down but if you can’t get off the field on 3rd down it will be a long game. If the defense’s 3rd down percentage continues to be low during the year it could be a long year as well.