By Nick Davis
Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (IN)
At Rose-Hulman, we, like most small colleges, have a pretty small staff. On my side of the ball this year, we will have two graduate assistants, a part-time coach and myself. Two of our four members on the defensive side of the ball will be new for the season. Over my four years as the defensive coordinator, I have had eight different position coaches work for us as either graduate assistants or restricted earning coaches on defense. Each time a coach leaves for a full-time job I feel that they are ready to go and do a great job at their new program. How do you train young coaches to know as much as you know in a small amount of time? The simple answer: you can’t.
I have tried to make sure our system in that every question is answered before it gets asked by our coaches and players. This took a lot of time for me as the coordinator on the front end to make sure we had rules in place to teach coaches and thereby the players. I stress that our whole scheme is a system that makes total sense to our players and coaches and has nothing to do with what anyone coming into the system knew before. An Over front or Cover 2 might be 10 different things to our staff and our players coming in but is a commonly understood term in our system.
One way to help with this transition of new coaches is to create documents that can help guide your coaches. We do a video playbook so the young coaches, and players, can hear me explain the playbook. We have all the things we have done saved to a google drive so that coach can refer to past years and former coaches. This season we are going to put one coach in charge of each skill that we will circuit. One coach will be the head on tackling, one coach will be the lead on takeaways, and one coach will oversee getting off blocks. That coach will have to watch the film in his area and create drills that we will circuit every day. Instead of having a different circuit every day, that coach will pick drills from his area to work on and have different focus stations. With having a tackling, takeaway, and getting off blocks focus, this is being preached every day by each of our coaches.
Teaching our scheme might be the easiest thing for young coaches. Our scheme is all a system based on word association. Our fronts are named by animals, fruits and vegetables. Our coverages are named based on cities and states. Our movement words tell every player involved where everyone will end up after the play. Owl Ball California means nothing to anyone other than the Rose-Hulman Defense staff and players. The owl tells our box players we are aligned in our 3 down front with our defensive ends outside the tackles in 5 techniques. Ball tells our ‘Bob’ linebacker to rush the B gap but tell all the defensive lineman where to end up. The other two linebackers now know what gap they each own in the run game. California tells our defensive backs and two linebackers not rushing that we are playing California coverage. California means we are playing a 4-man rush match man coverage and a city like Los Angeles might mean a different adjustment to the coverage.