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Brophy Football

Cripes! Get back to fundamentals...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Air Raid Strip Down

The last two practices were enlightening.

On a personal level, I think it is just what I needed to see to reignite the passion for the game. I am not a
guy that believes in pigeon-holing yourself to 'systems' or there being one way to do things in football,
but Air Raid, to me (and what it represents) is what I love about the game. It isn't the passing (though I
do appreciate it), it is the aggressiveness and organization that I enjoy so much. There aren't any taboo
areas to explore - moving the ball and breaking defenses is the only thing that matters.

To best articulate what I'm going to be explaining, the best analogy I could preface this with is the
witnessing the difference between the invading force of Normandy and the hard-driving Iraqi Freedom
force. Everything is pared down to the smallest, most essential, common-denominator and it is executed
at a 100-mph. There is no relenting and there is no settling in a comfort zone, it is always advancing.

The adaptation of Air Raid with the merging of Sonny Dykes and Tony Franklin at Louisiana Tech this
year is something to behold. I will provide a basic overview of the recent changes regarding the
evolution (what is different) from the recent years as evidenced from Troy-to-Auburn-to-Middle
Tennessee-to-now-Louisiana Tech.

Protection
I'll start this first post by outliing the simplicity of protection as utilized OL coach Pete Perot and GA Zach
Yenser. The protection on ALL passes is 90s. No differentiating between 5-step and 3-step, it is all
vertical set for 4-5 steps. There are no adjustments (except for the obvious lasso/rodeo). Because the
linemen are retreating up to a 5-step pocket (5 yards), the QB is expected on 3 step to catch the ball and
immediately fire it out to the short receiver.

Cadence
The quarterback does not call the cadence, it is controlled entirely by the center.
The center is at the ready over the ball at all times, calls the front ID, and then waits for a hand-flash
from the quarterback to begin the cadence. The center waits in a relaxed position, looking between his
legs at the quarterback.

Once signalled, it is just a loud, "ready........ready,hit!". This helps the center get the snap off more
effectively (he is controlling it, rather than waiting on another player), as well as put the source of the
audible cadence near the rest of the linemen. Also, because he's controlling the cadence, it makes hard-
counts (freeze) more effective.

Front Identification
What is also simplified is protection. Rather than making a "nickel" declaration, it has been truncated to
just (one-syllable) "nic" making it simpler and faster to deliver the same information. Because everything
is either 2x2 or 3x1, so there is no need to get overly complicated, as discussed previously, you really
limit just what a defense can do to you.

They treat everything with a zero technique (or simply any front with 3 down linemen) as a "5-0". With
any stacked LB look out of a 3-man front, the back will be responsible for the mike and the stacked
outside backers are handled by the linemen.

If the 3-man front is in a base front, with both inside linebackers over the guards and overhang players
on the edge (ala a 3-4 look), the back is responsible for both and the line will be responsible for the 3
linemen and 2 outside rushers. The general rule is that the OL is responsible for all outside rushers.
Anything with a 4 man front can be handled simply by a nickel call. From here it all can be sorted out
with all four linemen picked up plus one backer (opposite of the side the back declares).

That's IT! Nothing else that the line really needs to be aware of.

Here is a little something extra.....prepractice for Oline:

Tempo
The next part I'll touch on is the tempo they operate at.
The most characteristic element to TFS is the balls-to-the-wall nature of it and what that demands from
the coaches. They can get so much accomplished because of the tempo they keep and the momentum
that it creates.

Here is an example of a inside drill. Notice everything is being signalled in and the pace at which
everything is run. There are no 'breaks' between plays; they just line up, signal and go.

Another 'new' characteristic is that there are no wristbands. Everything is communicated through
signals. These signals are created by the players and they eventually come up with multiple signals to
convey the same message (3 different ways to signal '90' protection). From Day 1, all concepts are
signalled in, whether it is team, group, skelly, pup, inside-drill, or individuals. Each group (receivers, line,
quarterback) have their own coach/GA to look to, so there will be multiple signal callers giving a variety
of gestures at once. They begin signalling once the play has ended and DO NOT STOP (signalling) until
the ball is snapped.

I've included video of these periods (there are no lulls) to illustrate just what I'm talking about. You can
say, "they are always moving" or "they practice fast" but still never come away with understanding what
that is supposed to look like. Even in this clip below (during PUP), notice the time from the play ends to
the start of the very next play (both resulted in INTs, however).

Think about how something as meticulous as PUP can be (to get everything set up right) and what would
happen after a bad throw, how long it would be to set up the next play. Now watch this, and see them
setting up as quickly as possible, signalling in the next one, and flying through it.

Verbiage
Everything is stripped down to essentials. The terminology may have more to do with Dykes, but their
terms are extremely simple, and they don't use but 2 formations (3x1 and 2x2). So, you end up with
"trips left" / "trips right" or "ace" ('dart'). They have special sets, but everything is based off these two
formation groupings. During these practices they would hammer home a concept from the start of
practice until the end. So you would have quarterbacks and receivers doing prepractice based on "trips
left - mesh" and they would condition their warmups with that concept in mind. Moving on to
individuals and skelly, they would continue that same theme, "trips left - mesh", and couple it with a tag,
"trips left - mesh left - X hook". This was extremely effective, as they would go 3 to 4 groupings deep
working the same concept and focusing in on the very critical details of reads and stems of the concept.
They were able to get a lot done in very little time because of the pace and amount of
coaching/competition involved.

Some additional content can be found here, and I'll see if I can't review some of the effective concepts
installed.