By Justin Iske
Offensive Line Coach
Southwestern Oklahoma State University
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Be Relentless: Nothing but 100% effort from the snap to the echo of the whistle is acceptable.
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.
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.