Last week we established that the toughest job in coaching is coaching the offensive line. And we talked mostly about coaching the line at the lower levels, freshmen and sophomores. But this week let’s discuss experiences that we’ve all probably had as the varsity line coach. I coached just about every position in my thirty years of coaching and I can tell you the very toughest job I had was when I was the O line coach for the varsity. Now, I need to tell you, I’m a little guy and never played O line in my life. In high school I played running back and defensive back. But when I got into coaching, my first assignment was the freshman O line. I didn’t do a very good job for several reasons and I won’t go into detail now. Just say it was a lack of experience and preparation on my part and lack of leadership from others in the program. Eventually, I had the opportunity to coach other positions, including running backs. I felt more comfortable there. But the day came when I was asked once again to coach the O line – this time at the varsity level. I was to be the man, the head offensive line coach for the varsity football team. Could I do it? Hey, I had to do it, the new head coach simply looked at me in our first official meeting and said, “You’re my line coach.” He’s the boss. But enough of my stories, let’s talk about being an O line coach!
The eight concepts that were pointed out last week still apply whether you’re coaching the lower levels or varsity. They were: 1) Realize you’re probably NOT going to have a line that blows defenders off the ball 2) Fundamentals 3) Be patient 4) Pick 10-15 drills that fit your system 5) Instill pride 6) Develop 7) Recruit 8) Keep learning as a coach. For details on these concepts, refer to last week’s blog.
But now, let’s add one more and this one is the toughest of all. Preparing for the fronts you’ll be seeing each week. You must get your five guys working in unison to properly execute their blocks against multiple fronts. And you’ve got maybe two to four days to get this done. Man, this can be pressure! We all agree that the O line is the engine that drives the offense. You can’t screw this up. Getting your guys ready requires a lot of time and preparation. In the preseason it’s all about teaching and drilling the basics but inseason it all begins with the first coaches meeting on Sunday. After viewing film and drawing up the different fronts you’ll be seeing Friday night, it must now be determined how best to block these fronts. With input from the head coach and assistant line coaches the blocking schemes and battle plans are drawn up. You go over these in your mind over and over to make sure that when you present these adjustments to your players you know them like the back of your hand. On Monday the guys are shown the fronts they will see and introduced to how they’ll be blocked. Next it’s time for daily drills and walk through drills that pertain to blocking the most common fronts you’ll be seeing. This is a big time for teaching and answering questions. Tuesday and Wednesday are days in full pads to get some good drilling vs. those fronts. There will still be questions but it’s important to get a lot of good reps in the drills. On one of these days, maybe both, you’ll get some front and team O so that everything can be timed up with the backs. These are times when you’re coaching your butt off! Clean up any mistakes, teach, teach, coach, coach. Get ‘em ready. And don’t forget, the backups, or “twos” if you will, must be prepared as well. They need to get reps in drills and team O also. On Thursday everything should be ready. Now it’s time to reinforce, review, quiz, whatever it takes to be absolutely sure everyone is on the same page. The amount of work for the week is enormous for the line coach and you’ve gotta be ready by Friday. These three to four days of preparation every week is what I found to be the most challenging of all.
OK, Friday night comes, the game is played, your guys were splendid, and on Saturday morning the headlines are all about the skill players. But that’s okay because YOU know how well the guys played and so does the head coach. And your guys know cause you told them. Yes, it’s the hardest job, but the most satisfying because you’ve just watched a bunch of average kids go out and do their job. Man, that’s rewarding.
Hey, tell me what you think on Twitter. @TheChiefpigskin.
Coach L. Albaugh – DBLITY
Stillman Valley is located in northern Illinois, just south of Rockford. For the past 16 years, Stillman Valley, coached by Mike Lalor, has enjoyed great success in their footballprogram winning 5 State Titles, one runner-up, reached the State Semi-Finals 3 additional years, won 8 Conference Titles, and has qualified for the playoffs for 17 of 19 years.
This download includes all 29 offensive line drills in the Stillman Valley system. Find out how they teach and practice everything from their stances and start to executing the fold block to pass pro. Nothing is left out. A complete guide to coaching the Offensive Line. Stillman Valley runs a double wing, triple option attack.