Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Playoff Madness

OK, once again I should probably mention that the opinions expressed here are mine alone, and do not represent the San Diego Surge, the WFA or anyone else I may know….they’re just mine.
We’ve been getting questions about the camp, as far as if it is full gear or not. Yes, it is, but realize that there are going to be equal parts of field work and classroom/film time. So the drills, techniques and schemes (at least for me) are going to be explained and demo’d in class or on film first, then when we get out on the field it’ll be all about reps with increasing intensity. So we’re not going to show you something once, then let you go at it full speed. This camp isn’t about toughness or will power – it is about learning. We don’t need to prepare you for a game in two days, we need to get you better at what you’re doing or maybe show you a different way to do what you do, or offer a solution to a problem that you’ve been having. So the emphasis is on techniques & schemes that you can use as soon as you get back to your team.

We had a playoff game against our old friends, the Las Vegas Showgirlz the other night. As I mentioned in my pre-week one post (see it here), we’ve been playing the Showgirlz since 2006. I’ll tell ya, one thing Coach Lee can do is convince his players that they can win. He really gets them on board more than almost any coach I’ve ever seen. We seem to alternate between beating them soundly and then sweating the next one out until the end. Last year, they were up on us at half time, and we managed to pull it out by 12 I think. Then in the playoffs, it was a blow out. This year, in Week 1, it was surprisingly easy for us, but last week it was too close for comfort at half, us being up only 20-16. Fortunately for us, our players responded well to our challenge at halftime and we went on to score four more touchdowns while shutting Las Vegas out in the second half.

One thing that cracks me up, I gotta say, is when people say you’re predictable like it’s an insult, and then they still can’t stop what they think they know is coming. We are well aware of one tendency that we have, of running a certain play out of a certain formation. So we took pains to break that tendency last week. Both times we lined up in the formation, the defense started calling out the play. They were wrong. Finally, we lined up in the same formation, they started calling out the play, and they were right – here it comes. The result? A 12 yard gain…then they say, “You’re so predictable.” My answer? “OK, you were finally right, but you still didn’t stop it.” It’s sorta like playing Central Cal – here comes the off-tackle lead! Just try and stop it. Last year for us it was the Fly Sweep… it comes, 20 times a game. Being able to run something well even when the other team knows it is coming makes a coach feel good.

Oh well, moving forward….next week (July 5 – who did the schedule???), we’re up in Seattle to battle the Majestics. I don’t know a whole lot of players on their team, only meeting their QB and one of their WR’s at last year’s all star game. I don’t know any of their coaches either, but have a friendly relationship with their owner, Scott, who I also met last year.

I do know that they are pretty athletic; seem to be well-coached and are flat-out good. I’m excited to play someone we haven’t faced before in a city I’ve never been to before.

I’m not a fan of the travel rule, but I understand why it is in place. Having to travel on back-to-back weeks on relatively short notice can be a definite budget-buster for almost every team out there. And I suppose it could be worse….we could be Miami, being the sacrificial lamb out of the South to go all the way up to Chicago. At least our game should be a good one. Until a Southern team beats someone from north of the Mason-Dixon Line or west of Louisiana I can’t give them much credit or much chance. But really, why does Miami have to travel all the way to Chicago? DC would make much more sense. It always seems as if the Southern winner is paired with the Mid West winner.

Boston and DC will be an epic battle once again I’m sure….it was 29-28 last time, in Boston’s favor, in DC. This game will be in Boston. I think Boston will sweep the series this year.

Chicago and Miami will be ugly, no matter whether Chicago’s QB, Sami Grisafe is back or not. I doubt that even if she is able to play that she would this game. Why tip off Boston or DC that she’s back? (I have no idea whether she can play or not, I’ve just heard others wondering if she could. I hope she can come back, she’s one of the great ones in the league.)

Kansas City and Austin……hmmmm….I tend to favor KC by a wide margin in this one. Unless Austin can find a way to get ahead early and then milk the clock while also slowing down the Tribe offense some, it’ll be a long day for the Outlaws.

No predictions for our game…..I may look stupid, but I try not to be.  :-) I do think it’ll be entertaining and worth coming out to see.

See you all next week!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

In-Between Week & Guest Coaches

The season is winding down, that’s for sure. It’s now a fine line between staying sharp for the playoffs and resting the cumulative battered bones, bruised skin and tattered muscles that come after 8 games. We would like to believe that our approach early in the season, of starting later than almost everyone else, is going to pay off now with relatively fresher legs and fewer chronic injuries that will affect our performance. Only time will tell.

As I promised last week, here is a quick rundown of the guest coaches that are coming in to our camp in November. This isn’t a final list, as I’m waiting for final confirmation from one coach, and we may be asking another prominent coach to join us as well. But here are four of them:

Coach Lori (Lo) Locust, from Pennsylvania: “Coach Lo” is one of the finest defensive line coaches I’ve ever seen or worked with. She is simply outstanding in her ability to communicate what she wants to her players and the passion with which she does it. Not only has she coached for the Keystone Assault, but is currently coaching for a high school team and for the Central Penn Piranhas – one of the finest men’s semi-pro teams in he country. She is definitely someone you’ll want to learn from!

Coach Billy Hughes Jr., from Texas: Coach Hughes is an offensive line coach that I’ve wanted to work with since 2012, when we faced each other across the sidelines in the American Conference championship. Although we do a lot of the same things, we get there in different ways, and that’s why I’m excited he’s going to come out. He’s learned his craft from some of the best around – he played at the University of Oklahoma and then continued his career with the San Francisco 49’ers. He’s got a great love for the game that comes through in his teaching. The offensive line will be in for a treat!

Coach Angel Rivera III, also from Texas: Coach Rivera is another one I got to meet during the 2012 season and immediately knew he was someone who had knowledge that needed to be passed on. He played defensive back at Texas A&M under legendary coach RC Slocum and continued his career in the pass-happy Arena League. He is also an expert in strength and conditioning, running his own training center in Texas. Angel has a lot to offer, and we’re excited that he agreed to come out.

Coach Ed Williams, from Kansas City: Coach Williams was someone that Coach Suggett and I met during last years’ All Star game, when he was the only non-Surge coach on the staff. He fit in like he’d been with us for years. His work with the Tribe speaks for itself. He’s got great insights on both sides of the ball, and may join with me in some special teams presentations. He, like a couple of our other coaches, has some diversity in their background, so we’ll cement the position(s) he’ll coach as we get closer to the camp. As I mentioned, both Coach Suggett and myself are stoked that Coach Williams will be here!

Again, this isn’t a final list, just those who have agreed to come out. We’ll also have at least five coaches from the Surge staff there as well – I’ll give you bios of us once we’re finalized. Understandably, we’re a little more focused on our next games right now (one of which may be against Coach Williams!). Please remember that we’re still 5 months out from the camp. Once our championship run is over (hopefully the first week in August), then we’ll turn our full attention to making this the best experience possible for everyone attending.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Regular Season Finale

First off this week, there’s not much in the way of a camp update. If you missed the announcement, you can find it here. Next week I’ll write up an introduction of the guest coaches coming in from across the country – it’ll probably be a slow news week.
You may recall a couple of posts ago when I wrote about A Pleasant Surprise regarding our win over the team that put us out of the playoffs last year. This week we went back up to the heat of Central Cal to play them again. We knew going in that we were going to be down 4 WR/DB types – 3 of them starters. That was only mildly concerning to me as the OL coach, but as ST Coordinator, it made my ST depth chart look like Swiss cheese! Then, an hour before the game I found out my 5 time (now 6) All American left tackle was going to miss the game with a freak tweak of her back. My center was in the same boat but (barely) able to go. So THAT got my attention in a big way. Fortunately for us, having a former All American ready to step in at LT was/is a blessing.
It became apparent quickly that our opponents were in fact missing some people from the first game. I first noticed it where depth usually shows up – on special teams. In San Diego, their punt team was definitely devoid of speed and athleticism.  Their punter wasn’t very good either. So I changed up some of our scheme to take advantage of those developments only to find out they were now obsolete. Different punter, and a ton more athletes running down the field. Oh well….we were able to change things back and ended up returning one for a TD.
The overall result was a 35-6 win for us. It was a good win in that we showed that other people could step up in times of trouble and get us through the game. It wasn’t so good in that we had an awful lot of brain farts…..I don’t know if it was due to the heat (97 degrees at kickoff – 7:00 at night), or a feeling of complacency after the first win (I really hope not – we’re not good enough that we can take anyone lightly) or just the amount of players who had to step in and play more snaps than normal (a definite possibility, but one that might come up again).

Now we move onto the playoffs – the best time of the year! We have players that played on other teams before, and they were a little surprised that the coaches didn’t praise our 8-0 record in our post-game chat. They thought it deserved mention. Welcome to the world of raised expectations! Who else would you play for (well, I can think of three other teams) who would go 9-2 and declare it a “down year”? That’s us. That 8-0 means squat if we lose our next game. Many of us remember very well the bittersweet feeling of 2011, of getting to the championship game and losing to Boston. It fueled us for 2012. I’d prefer not to have to experience that painful lesson again, but I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Camp announcement!

OK, I’m really excited to be able to announce the dates and place for our female players and coaches camp! It will be on the weekend of November 15-16 and be held at the Surge’s home field of Santana High School in Santee, CA.

Right now we’re planning on starting at 9:00 AM on Saturday and finishing up between 5:00 and 7:00 that night. Then Sunday we’ll go from 9:00 to about 3:00. Plus, if you come in on Friday night, I’ll guarantee that at least I’ll be available to go over anything you want. I’m sure if our other instructing coaches are in town then that they’ll be up for it as well – who doesn’t have fun talking football?

One change to previously announced information is that we’ve found that we will need to charge for the camp. After looking at the rental agreement from Santana, which includes the use of classrooms for film study and chalk talks, we need to cover expenses. Although we’re not in this to make money, we don’t want to lose any either, you know? So we’re going to have to charge $20 for each player or coach. Yeah, not $200 or $100….$20. Sorry about that – we really wanted to do it for free. We’re going to try and make it up to you all with some goodies thrown in. I just can’t promise anything other than we’re going to try and do that at this point.

As far as lodging is concerned, we’re still working on it. We’re hoping to get you all a deal at one of the resort Indian casinos, but that hasn’t been finalized yet. We’ll keep you informed as we go.

The one thing I can definitely guarantee is that you’ll get information overload from some of the best teachers we know. We haven’t worked out what our guy will be filming yet, but there’s no problem with you filming whatever you want, unless a particular coach strongly dissents (maybe one of the visiting coaches will have a competitive division opponent in attendance or just doesn’t want their stuff out on the Internet).

The coaches we have coming in (in addition to selected ones from our staff) are teachers. They weren’t selected for their playing ability (although some have played at very high levels) but from their proven ability to teach the game. At first we were going to present the “Surge way” of doing things, but once the caliber of guest coaches who came forward was apparent, we felt that hey, maybe we could learn something as well! So while some of us may coordinate our lessons to build off of each other, there will be other times where concepts and drills are presented independently. You choose what works for you or your team. We just want you to be better when you leave than when you came.

This camp will be appropriate for both beginning and advanced players – chances are excellent that both types of players will be exposed to new techniques, new ways of thinking and/or simply a different way of explaining a technique that will resonate with them.

Coaches will benefit as well. Whether the X’s and O’s are explained in a formal class setting, out on the field during a group session, or one-on-one drawing things up on a napkin over a beer, the way we install, teach and drill plays will be explained thoroughly. In addition, you’ll see all the drills we do and exactly how they’re set up and taught.

Overall, I cannot express how excited we are to be able to do this and for all the positive feedback we’ve received so far.

There will be a Facebook page set up soon that will have updates as well, and I’ll continue to post info here as it comes in.