Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Screen Games

One thing I really, really like about coaching within collegiate rules (besides the OT rules and despite being down without contact) are the possibilities in the screen game. Here are some things to consider when putt in your screens:1.       If you’re in the WFA, go find some film on the Chicago Force, especially the 2013 WFA Championship game. It should still be up on the watchgamefilm.com site. The Force may be the best screen team I’ve ever seen. The sheer variety that they run is dazzling, and they execute pretty well also.

2.       Consider your personnel, and the types of DL that you face. Not all teams can run screens, not all teams are good to run screens against.

a.       Ideally, you would have an offensive line that can get out in space and block. If your OL is more of the “two shoves and stop” variety, then running screens will be quite an undertaking.

b.      If you are facing a DL that isn’t very active – i.e., they pretty much stay on the LOS, then traditional middle screens won’t be much help to you. One of those inactive DL may just luck into the play of their life and get a pick!

3.       Types of screens – please note, this is a very high overview of the screen game…..

a.       Middle Screens – might be the easiest to start with, just know that as I said above, the type of OL you have and the type of DL you are facing may have a bearing on how well it works for you. All you need to do is get a receiver over the middle, behind the LOS somehow….could be a TE from the LOS peeling back; could be a RB settling down as in pass pro, then turning around or it could be a WR coming in motion and being the receiver. There are all sorts of ways to make that happen.                     i.      The OL basically just “loses the first hit”, while possibly shoving or clubbing the DL upfield, then they head downfield for second level defenders. If a DL refuses to disengage with them, then I tell my OL to stay on them.                     ii.      As long as your OL can get a piece of the second level defenders, this play has a chance to be pretty good.

b.      Wide Receiver Screens – these work pretty well, and don’t depend necessarily on your OL being mobile or the DL being aggressive.                     i.      These can be either Bubble Screens, or Jailbreak Screens –                                1.       On the Bubble, a receiver (can be inside WR, motion WR or RB) arcs to the outside. The RB part of that can be especially deadly against teams who don’t adjust well to motion.                                2.       On the Jailbreak, the outer WR is coming in towards the ball. While it still works better if your OL can get up on the second level (NOTE: pretty much everything works better if your OL can move), the receiver can cut it up a bit more vertically if there is too much traffic further inside.                     ii.      However, at least one of your WR’s had better be a beast when it comes to blocking, and it would be nice if the playside tackle can move a bit. Failing that, she needs to make sure the DE doesn’t get too far upfield and disrupt your throwing lane.

c.       “Traditional” left or right RB screens – these I think are the hardest to implement, just because I think they do take more time, although if you happen to play under NFL rules (and maybe high school – I’ve lost track of what they do), they may be your best option.                     i.      The way I taught this to the OL was as follows:                                 1.       Playside tackle, set deep and drive the defender inside to clear the lane. Alternative was to club and drive upfield. Anything except let the DE sit there.                                  2.       Playside guard/center: Whoever of the two is uncovered goes first and either takes “first force” or if they see a man-to-man LB following the RB, that LB.                                  3.       Playside guard/center: Whoever is covered goes second and takes the alley defender (SS/OLB if #1 takes man LB or ILB if #1 takes first force). Basically, #2 reads #1’s block and does the opposite.                                  4.       Backside guard: Is always #3 and goes last. Their job is to circle around and pick off the “first smart DL”. They would go pretty much flat down the line to about the playside B gap, and look back for the first DL to read and react to the screen. It should give an opportunity for a great block!                                  5.       My overall rule for #’s 1, 2 and 3 is “win the first (hit), lose the second”. Using NFL rules, this will keep your OL within the normal boundaries allowed by the referees and not too far downfield. Coupled with a more lateral release due to the direction of the play, you should be fine.

4.       When you install screens, make sure that as an OC you let your position coaches know in advance that it is going to happen that day. They should then drill the essential skills in their Indy period. Sure, there will be some minor timing issues when you come together as a group or team, but they will be minimal compared to if the individual positions have never even performed the blocks/schemes.
Screens are fun to run. They can be demoralizing to a defense, and really take their aggression out of the game. Funny story from last year….we were on the road against a team that had us (me and a coach from the other team) sharing a rather large pressbox. There was probably 15 or so feet in between us, so while we couldn’t hear each other in normal conversation, we certainly could if one or the other got excited. We were facing a 4th and 10 from their 27, and I called for a middle screen (in our terminology, it wouldn’t have been obvious to the other coach even if he heard it). Five seconds later, I could hear him say, “Bring pressure – bring everyone!” I just silently thought to myself, “YES!” The result? It went from a 4th and 10 situation to a touchdown.
OK….I think I’m gonna take Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve off. Over those two weeks, I would love to get some requests about issues/problems/questions you may have that you’d like to see addressed. You can either comment in the blog comment section, or hit me up directly via my Facebook page or at kmring@gmail.com. Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and I’ll talk to you again on January 7th!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Offensive Thoughts

A little bit of this, that and the other……

I was recently watching a DVD by Jim McNally, widely considered the Godfather of the modern zone run game. In this particular one, from this year’s COOL Clinic in Cincinnati, he is espousing a fundamental difference in everything I’ve been taught about run blocking. It is a bit unsettling to consider that what you’ve been teaching as base concepts may need to be reworked and rethought. I’ve been used to tweaks here and there for awhile, and in my offensive coordinator thinking I’ve made quite a few changes over the years. But the one thing that has remained constant has been the base technique, the base posture in drive blocking. I’ve had it confirmed over and over again by different coaches, outstanding ones, in clinics and practice sessions. The change that McInally is promoting would take a big rethinking, but it does make some sense. When I look back on my film over the years, I can see what he is saying the weakness is, happening. And so now I have to wonder if it is time to change. Coach McNally is speaking at the Las Vegas Glazier clinic in February, so I can certainly listen to him then but if I’m going to make the change I should probably do it earlier than that. So back to the DVD’s I go…..

Now, just last night, I see (on the same DVD) former NFL OL and now OL consultant Scott Peters start to challenge what I thought was “locked in stone” about pass pro punches and hip movement. His stuff made a whole lot of sense right away though, so it’ll be implemented for sure. He also explained how to counter a problem I’ve searched for a good answer to for quite some time – how to regain the advantage as a center when the NT/1-Tech is trying to attack your snap hand. Goes back to what both he and Coach McNally talked about – getting depth and hip placement.

Watching the San Diego Charger game Sunday night, and watched as Coach Mike McCoy, who has done an overall great job with the team I think, choose to punt the ball away. The only problem with that is that he was at midfield, with 4 yards to go for a first down with about 6:30 minutes left in the game and down by 9. If he didn’t think the chances were good to get the 4 yards (and I must say that they probably weren’t), then how did he expect his team to score twice in less time and with potentially worse field position?

Fortunately with the Surge we don’t have that problem much (to punt or not to punt). Not only are we not usually in a 4th down situation, but when we are, 90% of the time the decision is to go for it. As a playcaller it makes it much easier knowing that you more than likely will have four downs to work with. On typical 3rd and long situations, I may not feel like I have to get all of it back on 3rd down. Most defenses however, just reflexively play to stop the deeper plays, and it really opens up the rest of the field.

I also think that the College Football Playoff Committee got it right. Baylor made a terrific case for getting in over TCU, but Oklahoma losing to Okie State apparently hurt both the Texas teams. I’m not at all sold on the notion that the B1G0 is a better conference than the Big XII, but Ohio State is playing really well. That they did it last week with their 3rd string QB, a true Freshman is quite remarkable and a testament to Urban Meyer’s teaching ability and technique.

Just as a reminder if you need anything tuned up offensively or from a special teams standpoint, I can help with that. We don’t start practice until February, so if there is anything you’d like to install or get taught, hit me up and we can work something out. The best part is that everything would be specific to your team – your terminology, your schemes (unless that is something you want to change), with your personnel.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mental Musings

I mentioned last week what a great sport football is, in part because it demands so much physically AND mentally. Sometimes, even the most talented player cannot thrive or even compete if their mental make-up isn’t up to par. We’ve all seen instances where a more talented team will fall to a team that is more technique-driven, more disciplined and better focused.

I remember coaching against Los Angeles Loyola High School back in 1995 when I was with Fountain Valley. We had the misfortune of playing them in the preseason, and then ended up meeting them again in the playoffs. They were ridiculously easy to game plan against; they sat in the most vanilla 3-4 alignment I’ve ever seen and their blitzes were also very basic. They did not have more than one or two players that had NCAA D-I talent, although I’m sure some of them went to the Ivy League or one of the Academies. They had flawless technique, relentless effort and pretty close to zero penalties. We went 0-2 that year against them.

You can also look no further than the team from the recent movie (and even better book), “When the Game Stands Tall” – Concord De La Salle. Although now they have an abundance of talent, back in the days during the movie and before, they had relatively few players making the jump to D-I ball. But when I watched them, I couldn’t help but say, “Wow!” As an OL coach I’m not a big fan of the Wing-T, but man…..the way they fired off the ball and their precision in doing so, and their effort – it just had me wondering why I sucked so badly. They beat Long Beach Poly, probably the most talent-driven high school in the country, twice. At the time, Poly had almost 5000 kids in the school. In their history, they’ve put over 60 (six-zero!) players into the NFL, and 16 in the last 20 years. We played them in 1997, and they beat us handily. The talent gap was just way too much for us to overcome. So why did they ever lose?

You see that in the women’s game as well. There are a couple of teams over the years that you look at their talent and think “wow….how do they lose?” I’m sure that a couple of coaches have thought the same thing about us, so it’s all good. But what I think happens in many cases is that coaches don’t push their talented players to be truly elite. Maybe they’re afraid of losing their star players by being too tough on them. Or maybe their players are “playing slow” because either they don’t put enough effort in to learning the playbook (which goes back to not being demanding enough) or because the system they’re playing in isn’t clear about what is supposed to happen.

Please note that I’m not putting all of this on coaches – certainly there are plenty of players who believe that their talent is enough to get by. And for 80% of the season that may be true. But champions are made in the other 20%, and the coach can do whatever s/he wants to as far as discipline but until the player herself buys into the fact that if she wants to get a ring she has to do more – expect more – from herself and her teammates, it isn’t going to happen.

What can be put on coaches are the following: 1) Demand excellence from your entire team, including your star players. They should be pushed harder than anyone, not only because they are expected to *be* more, but also because the rest of the team needs to see that no one is above correction and coaching. Needless to say, that also applies to team rules.

2) The system/terminology/communication on both sides of the ball has to allow your players to play “fast”. The trend by many teams is to try and eliminate as many words as possible in the play call, especially on offense. But what I’m finding is that the teams who are truly successful with that are also those who practice more than the twice a week that is typical of teams at our level. We as coaches need to be careful of not trying to mimic too much teams and systems that are successful at the high school or collegiate level, simply because of the advantage in practice time that they have over us.

I do believe that you can play fast at our level, and I believe that you can communicate effectively the play and responsibilities to your offense even when going in a no-huddle mode. I just don’t think you can have a full playbook using a single word system. I used to think that, but in looking around and seeing how much the game has evolved, I now believe that to counter what is being done to you, the calls need to be expanded. This means not only more words for words sake, but a system that also includes the formation, motion and snap count. Now, many teams have decided to go only on “one” and that is fine. It certainly keeps the verbiage down! But if your OL is struggling against a physically superior DL, you’re going to wish that you had some counter that you can use.

So, for me, I would have a “split” call…..first series of calls include snap count, formation and motion. Everyone would go and get into position. The next series of calls would be the snap count and the play itself and then the play is run. That keeps the memorization down – they don’t have to remember the formation, as they’re already in it, and then the snap count is being repeated again to them. So all they have to remember is the motion, and then listen for the play.

Sorry this got a little wordy…sort of ironic, given the topic, huh? But this is the sort of thing I think about each off-season, and I hope each coach out there re-examines what they do each year as well. The women’s game is growing in ability by leaps and bounds. Never has the old adage, “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse” been truer. Even though some teams have already started practices, this is the time to make changes. Doing the same things will probably only get you the same results. Do you want to be good for 80% of the season, or the final 20%?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Day of Thanks

This being the day before Thanksgiving, I thought it only appropriate to give thanks for all those who have helped me over the years. Hold on, because 25 years of help won’t be quick!

To the coach who gave me my first job, Steve Castle, a buddy that I’d played flag football with, I wish I knew where you were now, but I think of you often. He brought me on as a know-nothing assistant varsity OL coach in 1991 and then somehow retained me when he got the HC job at Westminster La Quinta the next year.

To George Berg, the head coach at Fountain Valley High…man, coming from three consecutive 2-8 seasons with Division 8 teams, onto a staff in Division 1, coming off an 12-1 year….I don’t know why you took a chance on me, but I’ll be forever grateful that you did. I know I got thrown into the fire a little sooner than was planned, and I know that ’94 was a rough year, but thanks for all you did for me, both professionally and personally. My family will never forget.

To Willy Puga (QB’s) and Hank Cochrane (OC) at FVHS – you guys gave me some serious tough love, but it made me understand what was important and how to prepare on a real staff. 12+ hour days are never fun, but with you guys they were tolerable. Hank, you’re still my guru, whether you like it or not. The stuff I learned from you is still in my playbook.

To Bill Williams, who was another guy who took me under his wing and introduced me to coaches and opportunities that I never would have had on my own, the lessons learned from you while working camps and clinics will always remain. I’ve got a sense of urgency and serious attention to detail because of you.

To Mike Barry, Pat Ruel, Mike Sherman and Homer Smith (RIP)…..you guys, who are at the top of the food chain as coaches, didn’t have to give of your time as you did – especially when I was no longer a high school coach (or you’d moved on to the NFL) and had nothing to offer you (recruits). You gave freely anyway and have instilled in me a spirit of helping out younger coaches who maybe didn’t have the opportunities that I did to interact with you or other high-level coaches. Your knowledge has probably made up 90% of mine.

To Dan Tovar – thanks for showing San Diego it could be done! The concepts you introduced are still used and will always be in the back of my mind when designing an offense.

To Mike Suggett – what a ride it’s been! We don’t always agree, but we’ve got each other’s backs and I think it has translated pretty well onto the field.

Perhaps most importantly, without some pretty good players coming through to make me look smart, none of it works. From Mike Nelson (La Quinta ’92) and Don Casey (LQ ’93) who were my first All-CIF players, through Brad Hanson, Brian Hart, & Justin Speegle at Fountain Valley, along with a BUNCH of All League players. To Katrina Walter, Lela Vaeo, Christina Carrillo & Lindsay Hood, the first All Americans, and now to Jessica Cable and Eboni Chambers carrying it on. To Moses Everett, my first male All American. Those are just the OL, and I’m singling those out because, well – they deserve it. As an OC/HC there are a whole bunch of the “skinny people” who helped out as well – so many that I can’t possibly list them all, so won’t for fear of forgetting someone. But I appreciate you.

Finally, thank you to the sport of football. There is none else like it. No other tests physical and mental toughness the same way. No other depends on 33 different positions doing their job on each play, lest disaster strike or when they do their jobs, greatness ensues. So many life lessons have been taught and there are so many left to learn. Thank you…..

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Camp Stories

In a word: Wow! What a weekend! There was a ton of buildup over the past two weeks, small details to take care of, people & vendors to update – all sorts of stuff seemed to keep coming up. Not only are Coach Suggett and I not professional event planners, but we’ve never run a camp before and just thought someone should do it. Our goal was simple: Bring out quality coaches and teach some finer points of the game to willing players in order to increase the level of the women’s game. We wanted to offer it at a reasonable price ($20 this year for 12 hours of instruction!) and add value by including t-shirts in that $20 and bringing in lunches, a trainer and our team masseuse. I have to believe our goals were met.

We had 52 players and two visiting (non-instructing) coaches attend the camp. Add to that 11 instructing coaches, a full support staff of field and registration helpers and I was just overwhelmed at the amount of help that we had. Obviously, with charging only $20 this was not going to be a money-maker for anyone and it was never intended to be. But we wanted to be able to reimburse our travelling coaches for some of their costs and weren’t able to do that to Mike and I’s satisfaction this year. So next year it will cost more for sure. But probably still only 20% of what USA Football is charging for their camp, and the promise remains the same – everything left over after expenses will go back to the travelling coaches.

So for the camp itself…..what a great time! Two of the coaches, Angel Rivera and Billy Hughes, I hadn’t seen in a while; Billy in 2013 and Angel not since 2012. They of course fit in like family and as coaches universally do, it wasn’t long before the jokes were flying. But besides that, they are just excellent teachers. Angel is such a great teacher of technique in a very technique-intensive position (DB’s) and I’m not sure I’ve seen any better DB coaches who weren’t getting paid lots of money. He is also on point with his speed and agility training. You should check out All Out Sports Training when you get a chance.

Billy and I teach 95% the same techniques and concepts, but as usually happens, we use different terminology. But we were both scribbling notes when attending each other’s classes and field sessions and it was great to trade tips with a guy who has “been there and done that” at the highest levels. He is going to have the Dallas Elite back into contending status as their OC this year for sure.

I hadn’t met either of the Utah Falconz coaches before, but from seeing that team on film, I knew they were good and I wasn’t disappointed! Rick Rasmussen (HC) and Mike Ramos (DC) were top-notch teachers, with passion and intensity. They, too, freely shared their knowledge knowing very well that we would probably be across the field from them at some point.

The coaches are only a small part of what made this camp great. The Surge and the Falconz had the two largest groups of players at the camp, and they went at it like true competitors. During the drill segments, the more experienced players, no matter the team, were helping out the less experienced, again no matter the team. I think that’s the way it should be. During the more competitive segments (we had two OL/DL pass rush sessions, and a modified 7-on-7 session) then they got after it! I know with the OL/DL group, players were calling each other out, saying “Come on, let’s go! Let’s see what you got!” and it was great fun.

We had those competitive sessions filmed, along with some of the other field and classroom sessions and as soon as we get everything figured out, we’ll post it on Hudl and I’ll post the link.

We also had our first tryout the week before the camp. We had several rookies come out – more than we had on our team either of the last two years, so we’re very encouraged by that. And a couple of them will contend for starting spots almost right away – and those spots already have veterans in them, so that should tell you something about the rookie’s ability.

All in all it’s been a great week of football, here in the middle of the off-season. Next week it’ll be back to writing about actual football topics…..it still feels weird to not have a camp to get ready for! Set aside November 13-14, 2015 and we'll do it again!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Final Coach Spotlight & Camp Schedule!

All right! I’ve saved the best for last! Our final two coaches, Billy Hughes Jr. from the Dallas Elite, and kicking coach Luis Villagomez of South Bay Kicking.

Coach Billy Hughes Jr. came out of high school as a consensus Blue Chip recruit and orally committed to the University of Oklahoma. A coaching change there led him to transfer to Southeastern Oklahoma State. Coming out of college, he signed with the San Francisco 49’ers, and then continued to play professionally with the Barcelona Dragons (NFL Europe), the North Texas Extreme (XFL) and the Fort Worth Calvary (Arena).
He has coached in the women’s game for five years, starting out with the Dallas Diamonds, who made one national championship appearance and three conference championship appearances. Last year he was with the Arlington Impact in the IWFL, and this year he will begin his first year as an offensive coordinator with the Dallas Elite (WFA). Coach Hughes also assisted with the USA Football Women’s Team USA evaluation camp in 2013.
With his intimate knowledge of how the game is played at the highest levels, Coach Hughes will bring a great perspective to the offensive linemen attending the camp. He and Coach Ring have been eager to work with each other for some time, so these sessions are sure to be high energy!

Coach Luis Villagomez is making himself available throughout the day for the kickers among us. Coach Villagomez was a Top 100 high school kicker from National City Sweetwater High and then kicked in college at West Texas A&M and professionally for the Omaha Beef of the Arena League. In 2012 he started his own kicking school, South Bay Kicking where he has coached dozens of youth, high school and junior college kickers the finer points of high-level placekicking and punting. In addition, he has participated in two invitation-only NFL kicker combines.

Luis will be at the camp on Sunday for the kickers to work with.

Finally, the schedule for the camp has been released! You can find Saturday’s schedule HERE and Sunday’s HERE. Players are free to pick and choose which sessions they attend. No camp coach is going to tell you where to go or what to see (your own coaches, if there, may have different ideas). So if you play multiple positions, you have the opportunity to see coaches at each of your spots. The two truly competitive sessions will be the combined OL/DL session first thing Sunday morning, and the 7-on-7 session to conclude the camp. The plan right now is to have both of those sessions, as well as selected individual drill and class sessions, filmed. 

Outside of those two sections, the emphasis is on getting you better by exposing you to different techniques and scheme ideas. Some will work for you, some may not. But at the very least, you have exposure to them and can put them in your personal “tool bag” of techniques.

There is no over-riding “camp doctrine” – all of the coaches will coach what they know or what they currently do with their own teams. We all know that there is no “best way” of doing anything on a football field – otherwise everyone would be doing the same thing! So come in with an open mind – you will get out of the camp what you put into it.

I can’t tell you how much all of the coaches are looking forward to this. I’ve been having conversations with several of them and we’re all chomping at the bit to get going and make this a great event!

I’ll probably take next week off from the blog, so the next time I post will be the 19th, after the camp and our first tryouts. I’m sure there will be a lot to talk about!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Coach Spotlight – Part 3

This week we’ll take a closer look at some of our outstanding visiting coaches. These are truly special people for volunteering their time and effort to come out and help us out. We definitely appreciate all that you do!

The Utah Falconz Defensive Coordinator, Mike Ramos - Now entering his 5th year of coaching women's football, Coach Ramos' coaching background also includes coaching athletes from little league to high school.

Coach Ramos' style employs a variety of defenses and schemes.  He believes in having a defense which is smart enough and flexible enough to adapt quickly.  His defensive philosophy preaches hard-hitting, and team-tackling.  He also puts an emphasis on take-aways,  stressing to his players that a game-changing takeaway is possible on every play.

This style can be seen in his 2014 Utah Falconz Defense, which scored more points than it gave up.  According to Ramos, this team ranks among his elite.

"Our defense scored more points than we gave up," Ramos says, "and we did it with our 2nd- and 3rd teams playing a majority of the game. That means we had total team buy-in.  I'm really proud of that.  It's a testament to the defensive coaches, but also the players.  They did a great job of being aggressive, and having a nose for the end zone."

Coach Ramos also takes great pride in helping to provide instruction to all football players, even those playing for other teams.

Says Ramos, "I've got former players who play for other teams, and they ask me for tips, or feedback on their play.  Of course I'm going to accommodate.  I don't care who you play for, if people want to learn football, I'm willing to help."

Coach Ramos is married with three children, and lives in Salt Lake City.

Coach Rick Rasmussen is the Head Coach of the newly formed Utah Falconz.  He is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and a former F16 pilot.  Rick entered into law enforcement and served 22 years.  Rick coached for 14 years at the high school level all in the 5A classification, the largest in Utah, and this upcoming season will be his 4th coaching women's football.

(This is Mark Ring speaking): Coach Rasmussen is a very humble coach who failed to mention that the Falconz were undefeated in their first year, and that if you saw any film on them, you saw a very fine-tuned machine in place on both sides of the ball. Whereas many of the coaches in camp are spread passing types, Coach Rick will give others a keen insight into the option world. His views on leadership and team building are also worth the price of admission. We are very fortunate to have him with us!

On a sad note, Coach Lori Locust informed me today that she wouldn’t be able to make the camp due to business commitments. Coach Lo has been a huge supporter of the camp, and I know it is breaking her heart to miss this one. If you’ve seen her Facebook posts, you know she was looking forward to it. So we’ll get her out here next year.

In the meantime, Coach Mike Suggett will shift over to take a lot of the defensive line work. In that capacity, he is a very aggressive coach and will get the DL going upfield towards the QB in a hurry. I don’t see any letdown at that position at all.

Remember, please take a look at our Facebook event page and let us know you’re coming! We’re at 57 coaches and players right now, and with at least a couple of teams having tryouts before the camp starts, I expect that number to increase.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Coach Spotlight - Part 2

This week we’ll highlight the Surge offensive coaches who will open up their playbooks at the camp:
Coach Carrie Suggett is beginning her second year as the Offensive Coordinator for the 2014 American Conference Champions, the San Diego Surge. She also has served as Quarterback Coach for the Surge since 2011. Last season under her guidance, the Surge led the Women’s Football Alliance in scoring with an average of 63.3 points per game, while averaging 343 yards per game. Coach Suggett also helped develop Melissa Gallegos into one of the most prolific passers in women’s football. She is an outstanding teacher of quarterback fundamentals and can improve almost anyone’s technique.

Prior to coaching football, Carrie played football in various women’s professional leagues dating back to 2001 with teams such as the San Diego SunFire and the So Cal Scorpions. In addition to coaching football, Coach Suggett has more than 10 years of combined experience coaching high school softball and women’s basketball.

Coach Suggett is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa where she played collegiate softball and earned a Bachelors of Arts degree in Education. She has also recently earned her Masters of Science degree in Educational Leadership from Walden University. Coach Suggett has more than 20 years of teaching experience and currently works as a Special Education teacher in Lakeside, California.

Coach Mike Vargas is the Surge’s longtime wide receiver coach. He also served as an offensive coordinator in 2004 (with the SoCal Scorpions) and in 2011, when the Surge made a national championship appearance. That year the Surge averaged 56 points per game scored. 
Prior to coming into the women’s game in 2003, Coach Vargas spent five years coaching at various San Diego high schools. The Surge receivers, for all the successes they have had in the passing game, are known as tenacious and ferocious blockers, which is a direct result of Coach Vargas’ emphasis in making his unit a complete group. 

He, too, is an outstanding teacher of fundamentals and has a complete list of innovative drills that will help both new and veteran receivers up their game. His 13 years of experience coaching football will result in some great learning opportunities!

Coach Mark Ring is co-hosting the camp with Mike Suggett. He is entering his 25th year of coaching football. Coach Ring started his football career in 1991, at San Clemente High, then moved to Westminster La Quinta. From 1994 to 1998 he was at Southern Section power Fountain Valley High as the offensive line coach and strength & conditioning coordinator. In those 4 years, he had three All County offensive linemen and sent four linemen from his 1996 team to NCAA Division I scholarships.

Moving back home to San Diego in 1999, Coach Ring became the offensive coordinator and line coach for the San Diego Patriots, a semi-pro men’s team. In 2001 & 2002 he served as an assistant with San Diego Point Loma High, his alma mater. In 2003, Ring joined the SoCal Scorpions as the offensive line coach. He remained with the Scorpions all the way through their WPFL National Championship in 2007, when he was also the offensive coordinator.

After taking a break when the Scorpions ceased play, Coach Ring returned to the men’s game as the offensive line coach for the San Diego Stallions in 2009, then took over as the offensive coordinator in 2010. In 2011, he coached year around as the Surge started play. That year he was the offensive line coach for both the Surge and the National City Bears, a men’s team. 

2012 saw the Surge win the WFA National Championship with Ring as the Special Teams Coordinator, as well as the OL coach. That same year, he also took over offensive coordinator duties with the Bears, who won their league championship.

In 2013, Coach Ring became the offensive coordinator for the Surge and devised a completely different (for the Surge) offense, due to inexperience at the QB and WR positions. Despite those challenges, the Surge went 9-2 and averaged over 40 points per game. Also that year, Ring took over as the head coach for the Bears and led them to a playoff berth.

In 2014, Ring returned as the OL and ST Coordinator, helping the Surge to their third national championship appearance, which included three of his linemen being selected to the All American team, one of them (Katrina Walter) for the 6th time.

As you can see, the Surge offensive coaches have all called plays and coordinated offenses. With 42 years of experience just on the offensive side of the ball, they are eager to share what they’ve learned over the years. With a franchise record of 43-4, they’ve developed a successful formula on offense.

Please remember to comment on our Facebook event page with your team, position and t-shirt size. We've got almost 60 people attending as of today - it is getting huge and will be a blast!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Coach Spotlight - Part 1

Since we’re now one month out from our first annual RS Football Camp, I thought I’d start to highlight some of the coaches we have as instructors.

First up is Angel Rivera III.

Coach Rivera was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas where he attended Churchill High School and where he gained leadership skills in football, baseball, tennis and marital arts. He graduated in 1990 and then went on to Texas A&M University where he had an opportunity to play defensive back under Coach R.C. Slocum and DB Coach Larry Slade. In 1997 he was introduced into AFL/AFL2/IFL (Arena Football) where he played for seven years on teams such as the San Antonio Stampede, Houston Thunder Bears, Dallas Desperados, and Dallas Knights. After earning 2 championship rings and a multitude of sports injuries, Angel decided to leave Arena Football and share his expertise.

He then moved to Monroe, Louisiana, where he began to train athletes at local high schools and ULM. He began an intensive method of training for a group of young athletes; many were recruited into the DI, DII, NFL, CFL, and AFL. In 2010, Angel was homesick for Texas, so he moved to Dallas and in 2012, began his own performance training company now known as All Out Sports Training (AOST). He has also used his expertise as a defensive back to coach in the USIFL, IFL and LSFL and as Assistant Defensive Coordinator in the TUFL and AEFL. Most recently, Angel has been employed as the Defensive Back/Speed/Conditioning Coach for the Dallas Diamonds (Professional Women’s Football Team), selected to be a NIKE SPARQ Combine Testing Coach training under Matt James (SPARQ Performance Head Coach and Dr. Tom Shaw (ex. Strength & Conditioning Coach for the New England Patriots). Angel currently trains SELECT/AAU Football, Baseball, Soccer and Basketball Teams and High School, College and Professional athletes in Football, Baseball and Soccer throughout the Metroplex. He does SAQ Camps in California, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Louisiana and Oklahoma for Football, Soccer and Baseball. Angel also volunteers for the DISD as a coach/SAQ coach for Pinkston, Sunset and James Madison High School as well as Rainbow Days (Homeless Kids Group) Mercy Street (Inner City Kids Group).

His mission is to inspire and challenge all athletes to develop the skills and mindset to excel to the next level and reach their goals.

He is certified by the NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) in CPT (Certified Personal Training) and is SAQ (Speed, Agility and Quickness) and PES Certified (Performance Enhancement Specialist).

The defensive backs will be well taken care of and will learn a lot!

Next is one of the co-hosts of the camp, Mike Suggett.

Coach Suggett is one of the most successful women’s football coaches in the country. He has 17 years of coaching experience, starting with Hilltop and traditional power Sweetwater High schools in San Diego County, serving as a running back, quarterback and defensive line coach.

He started in the women’s game in 2001, serving as the Defensive Coordinator for the San Diego Sunfire, taking over as the head coach in 2002. In 2003, he was the first Head Coach of the SoCal Scorpions in the WPFL. Coach Suggett was also the Head Coach in 2005, when the Scorpions turned the corner into a winning franchise. After stepping away from the game for a little while, Suggett returned in 2010 when the Scorpions came back after taking two seasons off. He led them to a playoff berth their first year back.

In 2011, the San Diego Surge formed, with Mike at the helm. The first year he led them to an 11-1 record and an appearance in the national championship game. In 2012 while serving as the head coach and offensive coordinator, he completed the perfect season: a 12-0 record, including a win over Chicago in what many consider to be the most exciting women’s football game ever, played out on a national stage in Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field and an ESPN audience. Coach Suggett continued as the head coach in 2013, then was “only” the defensive coordinator in 2014, when the Surge again made a national championship appearance, going 11-1.

Mike’s overall record as the Surge HC is 32-3, and the Surge franchise record is 43-4. He will coach linebackers and running backs during the camp, but can fill in at any other spot where needed. He is truly one of the most versatile and knowledgeable football coaches I’ve ever known.

Please remember to let us know you’re coming on our Facebook event page HERE. We also need to get your t-shirt sizes, and you can pay in advance through PayPal HERE, using kmring@gmail.com as the account. Remember, the cost is only $20.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Camp Update and Random Stuff

First of all, some camp updates: While we don’t need you to pay in advance the $20, you may want to definitively post on our Facebook event page (HERE) that you are coming and what t-shirt size you’d like. We do need to get that order in fairly soon and want to ensure that we have enough of your size. Remember, your t-shirt is included in the $20 cost. Yes, I know – we’re awesome.

Things you need to plan for, if you haven’t already:

1. Transportation to San Diego.

2. Transportation within San Diego. If you’ve never used Lyft, here is a code for your first ride: MARK9202. You can download the app, and put in the code in the payment section. The code will get you $25 off your first ride, so going from the airport to the field/hotel won’t cost much. Most Lyft cars can take up to four, so one of you can use the code from the airport, and someone else can use it on the way back to the airport. Even if you’ve used Lyft, it is a lot cheaper than taxis.

3. Hotel. Here is the link to the hotel. We don’t have a special rate, but the cost the last time we checked was in the $80 range, so for 4 people, it’s pretty good. There are only 47 rooms though. So book them already! Obviously, if you know people here, then you may have other options.

4. Food – We’re having lunches brought in both Saturday and Sunday. The final cost hasn’t been determined, but should be in the $7 range, and it is goooood. Think Hawaiian style chicken and BBQ. There are places very close to the field as well, but remember that we are having presentations during a good portion of lunch both days, so you’ll want to hustle back.
For dinner, again there are several places very close to the hotel. One of them, Margarita’s Mexican Food, will have discount coupons on registration. This is where we hold our 5th Quarter after games, and it is pretty good and reasonably priced. It is right across the street from the hotel, as is a pizza place and some fast food places.

In a nutshell, we’re trying to provide you all with the maximum amount of information and learning with a minimum of cost. We’re controlling what we can the very best we can. Any excess funds after we pay for the field and t-shirts will be going back to the coaches that traveled in. We appreciate their willingness to pay for their travel with little in the way of guaranteed payback. That is why we selected who we did, because of their passion for teaching and a love for the game.

So – let us know that you’re coming on our Facebook page!

What a crazy week in college football, huh? Not only all the Top 10 teams that lost, but did you see that Cal-Washington State score? 60-59! Cal returned two kickoffs for TD’s in that game. Washington State fired their ST Coordinator on Monday. True story….special teams matter!

I wonder if everyone in Mississippi is still drunk? That’s a party that should have gone on for a long time! The last time both State and Ole Miss were both ranked in the top 10 was 1958. And the last time in the top 5? That would be never. Congratulations to both teams, because they are both playing lights out.

When was the last time your defense actually practiced a Hail Mary defense drill? Do you think that USC will ever NOT practice it again? Details, folks, details. These things need to be practiced just like anything else.

In the NFL, there can be no further doubt that it is a QB-driven league. All you had to do was watch the San Diego – New York Jet game. Holy moly, are the Jets’ QB’s bad. Not much talent around them either, but their play was just atrocious. And on the flip side, you have Philip Rivers who isn’t in the mold of the modern dual-threat type of QB, but is really, really efficient.

I believe that in the women’s game you can mask a weak-throwing QB. You’ve gotta be pretty creative, but it can be done. I don’t know that you can win a national championship without a pretty darn good one, but you can be better than average and competitive.

That’s about it for this week – there’s some great games coming up this weekend as well, so I’m sure there will be lessons to be learned!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Game Remains the Same

This particular blog may be a little of the “preaching to the choir” variety, but I do think the topic merits discussion. What am I talking about? Right now it is the tendency of those coaching or playing men’s football (at any level) to discount what we’re doing in the women’s game as irrelevant from a scheme perspective.

I’ve coached at the high school varsity level, the men’s semi-pro level and of course women. Recently on a men’s Facebook forum, the topic of the Fly Sweep came up, and how best to block it, what to run with it, etc. Now, if you’re familiar with us at all, you know that in the last two years we’ve probably run more fly sweeps than any non-scholastic team around (just because I know of a couple schools that run it exclusively), and we’ve had a lot of success with it. So I felt pretty comfortable in talking about the Fly in depth.

Some of the responses I got were along the lines of “that stuff won’t work with men”….which is funny, because I got those very schemes from Saddleback Junior College, which,  the last time I checked doesn’t have a women’s football team.

I also remember a DB on the men’s team I was the OC of in 2012 talking smack just before we went to team about how he “tore up” our offense during 7-on-7 and that “this isn’t the women, Coach”….OK, so noted. The defense didn’t stop us that night, or really any other, that whole season, and we won the league title that year (it was a nice daily double for me – winning the national championship with the women, and a league title with the men).

So what’s my point? That the game is the same, no matter what level you coach. I coach my individual female OL the exact same way I coach my male OL. The schemes I use are virtually identical, and the next time I coach a men’s team, that playbook will look a lot more like my women’s playbook than vice versa. My latest men’s playbook is based off of stuff I picked up in the women’s 2007 season and I refined a little bit to my own taste. The new playbook that I’ll use will look much more like what we’re doing with the women now with some expanded ideas for the future.

I think the only allowances you need to make in differing levels of football are in understanding and practice time. I wouldn’t teach as many concepts to a youth team as I would an adult team – there’s a difference in understanding. I don’t think you can have as many adjustments on a men’s and women’s level as you can on a high school level – there’s a huge difference in practice time.

What IS interesting is that I think in general, women can handle more variety in concepts and assignments than men can, from a mental standpoint. Women are like sponges and will willingly soak up whatever you’re teaching them…..although some long-time vets need to be careful that they don’t fall into the same trap that men usually do – that they know everything there is to know about the game.

In all honesty, I think that coaching high school ball is the best mix. You get to actually mold someone as a person and as a player. The time you spend around them all year makes for lifelong friendships in many cases. The level of coach you go up against each week keeps you on the very top of your game.

You get that sometimes in the women’s game; there are staffs out there that keep me awake at night trying to figure out how they’ll react to what we do. There’s a couple in the men’s game too, but not usually. Part of the reason is that in the men’s game you rarely get film. If you get one game you’re lucky, and that was usually shot by someone’s girlfriend and it focuses on him the whole game, including when he’s waving on the sideline…..So there’s not a whole lot of specific game planning going on, because you don’t have a whole lot to go on. It’s more of just doing what we do and seeing if our best stuff is better than their best stuff.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that there’s an awful lot of good things going on in the women’s game. There are some excellent staffs, some really, really good football players – not just athletes like there were 10 years ago, but actual good players. No one coming into the women’s game as a coach should look at it as being easy in any sense – it’ll take hard work to get near the top, and if you’re not on point the players will call you out. And that’s a good thing!
Interest in our November camp is really taking off. We're almost to the point where we might need to bring in extra coaches - not quite, but it's close. Please go to the Facebook event page here. If you have any questions at all, please let me know! 

On a congratulatory note, one of the instructing coaches, Lori Locust, just won a men's national championship with her team, the Central Penn Piranhas. Way to go Coach Lo!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tempo - A Total Commitment

Much of the talk these days around different teams by the network analysts centers around “tempo”, or in some cases (Arkansas), the lack of it. In college ball teams like Oregon, Texas A&M, Baylor and Auburn all go at a pretty frenetic speed, looking to snap the ball within 10 seconds or so after it is marked ready for play. In the NFL, the Eagles are the example, with the Patriots, Broncos and Chargers all close behind. The benefits to this style of play are apparent: more plays per game equal more chances to score points. Because pass rushing is perhaps the most physically taxing thing a defender does during a game, keeping tired defensive linemen out on the field because your pace doesn’t allow for substitution is a definite advantage. Your practices become much more efficient by necessity – you run more plays during practice and you don’t have to set aside special 2:00 drills. But it is the practice element that will be the focus of this article.

First of all, I’d like to recommend three resources for anyone wanting to implement an uptempo scheme: a book by Mark McElroy of Saddleback College (Amazon link here), a book by Auburn coach Gus Malzahn (Amazon link here) and a book by Chicago Force coach John Konecki (Amazon link here). Looking at all three of their approaches and melding it into your own is probably the best way to go. For me personally, Coach McElroy had the most influence.

So, if you are thinking about implementing a no-huddle or up-tempo offense this year, here are some things you might want to think about:

Terminology – I wrote about play terminology here and that is something that definitely needs to be considered. If your current terminology isn’t no-huddle compatible, that is the first thing you may want to change. Changing both terminology and tempo in one season may be tough, depending on how often you practice.

Signaling – You have to have some way of getting the plays in to your team. If your terminology is no-huddle compatible already, then you could just yell out the play to your QB who can then relay it to the rest of the team. But if that isn’t the case, and you don’t already have a signaling system in place, it is time to devise one. Whether it is hand signals, wrist coaches, play boards or what have you, there has to be a system in place to communicate what the play is.

Practice Mechanics – Moving to an up-tempo offense involves every coach on the staff. There should probably be two types of team periods, teaching and tempo. During the teaching period, which is meant for the practicing of new plays or concepts, or those plays in which you’ve identified that need to be fixed. During this phase of team, the pace isn’t as important as the teaching, but there should still be a sense of urgency among the staff, otherwise what was planned as a 10-play period taking (maybe) 15 minutes ends up being a 7-play period lasting 20.

During a tempo session is where the work is! You want to go as quickly as possible through your script, and you need the defense to keep up. So before practice even starts, there are things that need to happen:

Your script has to be well-thought out, to cover the plays you need work on for that practice. The script needs to include the scout team’s front and coverage so that you as the OC can ensure you’re getting the looks you need from the defense.

You need to include practice cards for the scout team defense. These cards should be numbered and the numbers included on your script. Each card should also have the offensive formation drawn on it, so that the scout team can see where they are supposed to be quickly. A copy of the script is given to the defensive coaches. Whoever is in charge of the scout team (and there should be a coach designated in that role) holds up the card for the front seven, and the DB coach calls out the coverage for the secondary, along with alerting a corner or safety of any blitz on that play. The secondary doesn’t need to huddle – just go get lined up. The defensive coaches definitely need to hurry the scout teams along – the offense cannot wait for them!

During the period, an offensive coach needs to be designated as the “Umpire”, to whom the player with the ball runs to and hands them the ball at the end of the play. They do NOT throw it or toss it to the official! If they miss, it wastes valuable time retrieving the ball and setting it ready for play. So they hand it to the official. Every time. Get in the habit.

If there is any coaching going on during this period, it had better be “on the run” or after the player in question is out, or after the period. Coaches can add notes to the script for this (and the OC can include a notes column in the script). What can NOT happen is the rest of the offense is lined up ready to go, and there is one player who a coach is talking to who is supposed to be in. This tempo period isn’t the time for that. Even worse would be a defensive player being talked to, but that should go without saying.

Finally, after the period is over, you may want to schedule a five minute Indy period so that the coaches can go over the mistakes they noted during the tempo period. This is a better option than meeting after the final talk at the end of practice because the players will still be in practice mode and have their pads on. It’s only five minutes, and that should be strictly enforced. 

Basically, when you are coaching in a no-huddle environment, everyone needs to learn to operate at that pace, with a definite sense of urgency in everything they do.

Again, I really recommend getting at least one of the resources I talked about before. The depth involved with moving to a no-huddle system is not done justice by this brief article.


Once again, here are the basic details for our camp in November. We’re getting a ton of interest and lots of excitement. The cost is only $20 – 1/10th of what USA Football is charging for their weekend in January, and I promise that there will be more teaching and skill development going on in ours (no game to get ready for in two days)! So here’s the basic info link, and then here is the link to the Facebook event.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

More Truisms

Saw some other “nuggets of knowledge” in action this past weekend of watching ball at all levels:
    Know and understand your options!
First in the college game. Texas was playing UCLA. UCLA won the toss and deferred their decision to the second half. Texas elected to kick……I have no idea what went through the captain’s mind, and I don’t know if the ref said, “Are you sure?” But this brings back in focus the need for reminders, no matter how many times things may have been done in the past. The Texas captain who made that call could have easily been more focused on his upcoming game responsibilities than the seemingly mundane issue of the coin toss. Or maybe there was a supermodel out there doing the toss. Who knows? The fact remains that Texas kicked off to start both halves, giving up a possession during a 20-17 loss. I’m sure that Charlie Strong or the ST Coordinator, or both, are kicking themselves today.

   Know the mechanics.
I was watching a youth game this weekend. It got down to the point of where the team I was rooting for was trying to milk the clock to ice the game with a 2-point lead. I know the coach was telling the QB to take his time. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a great understanding of who on the officiating crew had the play clock signal, and a delay penalty ensued. Now, in this particular case, I saw the back judge/umpire hold his hand out straight to the side which is the normal indicator for five seconds left, but the referee threw the flag one second later. So this may easily have been a case of the officiating crew not having a great understanding of who had the clock as well.

My point in this case is that the pre-game meeting with the officials is important for things like that. Especially if you don’t know the crew, you want to ask them how they do things like the play clock, or where (if you use NFL or college hashes on a high school marked field) they will mark the ball on wide plays. I’ve been surprised a couple of times the first time we run a play to the sideline and then think we’ll have enough room to go back the same way, only to find out we’re ALL the way out on the high school hash.

Also, don’t forget to talk about your weird formations or trick plays. You don’t want an illegal formation or an illegal man downfield penalty because you surprised the officials as much as you did the other team. Same thing with your trick plays. Just let the crew know that you call them and to be easy on the whistle.

Finally talk about your tempo. If you’re no huddle you’ll really need their help in keeping the pace you want. With that, make sure you coach up your chain crew! Nothing worse than being at home and having to wait for them to stroll down the field. That is something you can control, so reward those guys/gals for doing a good job for you.

   The Passing game starts with protection.
I know from first-hand experience about the fascination with nice, clean, long routes in the passing game. But I’m also constantly reminded of my first mentor, Coach Mike Barry (then with USC) who said way back in 1992: “Just remember that for every inch of route that the QB coach or OC draws out on paper that it is 1 second of pass protection.”

I wrote about the pass pro schemes I’ve used in the past here (Part 1) and here (Part 2), but the above truism was painfully (for Colin Kaepernick) driven home Monday night with San Francisco and Indianapolis. The Colt defensive end was just teeing off on the 49’er RT. It was pretty bad. The RT was standing in as tough as he could, I think, but it was just a physical mismatch.

On Sunday, I saw the Chargers’ rising star of a RT, DJ Fluker, get beat pretty quickly by a Seattle DE. DJ’s mistake certainly wasn’t in a physical mismatch – it’ll be a rare DE that just physically overpowers him, but in Fluker’s footwork. He opened up right away and gave the DE a straight shot to Philip Rivers. This is a very common error – maybe the most common for a tackle, and it just goes to show that it can happen at any level of play. I know for certain he wasn’t coached to do that!

The teaching point here is that as an OL coach, you need to develop a library of pass protection drills and hammer those correct movements into your OL. Many people look at holding penalties as being drive killers – well, at least then you get to replay the down. A sack loses the distance, the down and potentially your QB’s confidence and/or health!

We’ve had some great responses to our camp in November. Keep the dates open – November 15 and 16. Camp details are here and the Facebook event is here.

We just added a kicking coach to our roster , so will have something for them as well. If your kicker also plays another position, then she can go between positions as she wishes. If she is solely a kicker, then she could potentially get a full day’s worth of semi-private instruction.

I would encourage you all to seriously consider attending. The WFA has added two teams that will be well represented at the camp, both with players and instructing coaches: the Dallas Elite and the Utah Falconz. Both of those teams will immediately contend for supremacy in the American Conference.

Remember, the camp is for both players and coaches. Coaches can treat it like a 3D coaching clinic! You are welcome to be out on the field during drills and in the huddle during team or 7-on-7 times. Film whatever you want. Just don’t get run over!