Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This & That

First things first – don’t forget about the San Diego Women’s Football Camp in November. You can see the Facebook event here. Last weeks’ blog has 200 views in just a couple of days, making it the most viewed post I’ve ever had.

I’d like to remind the coaches out there that this camp isn’t only for players. We know that most of the big coaching clinics are in February and March, and so are tough to get to when you’ve already started your season practices. Plus, you have to sift through the topics and discussions to get down to what you can do on a 1-2 time per week practice schedule. Also, if you’ve already started practice, and then picked up a new concept, how do you integrate it into whatever you’re already doing without it looking like you’re changing things as the wind blows?

So a few things about our camp: There will be 11 instructing coaches there, plus however many others show up. All of the instructors are from winning programs at the level you coach at – your direct competitors. They’re there to share their knowledge to get you and your players better. Although there is no one way to do things, what these coaches will share are things that actually work at our level. So treat it like going to a coaching clinic, except you not only get classroom talks and film sessions, but also live on-the-field applications of what is being taught. All for $20. Can’t beat it!

Players, the overriding consideration is getting you better. We’re not out there to condition you or discipline you (although if you dog a drill, wasting someone else’s rep, that’ll get you “noticed”). We’re like the doting grandparents that get to have fun and then send you back to your parents after a weekend. If you’re a beginner, we’ll pair you either with someone of your level (if it is a competitive drill) or a more experienced player if it is a teaching drill. For veterans, I’m sure that when the competitive drills come up, you’ll want to see where you stand against All American and Team USA players – they’ll be there for you!

One thing that has always driven me crazy about football announcers is that they’ll rave over a defensive player making a “great play” when it was really due to an offensive player’s incompetence. Such was the case of Michael Sam sacking Johnny Football the other night. The Browns RT on the play was absolutely brutal – head forward, no punch, stopped feet. LeCharles Bentley, noted owner of OL Performance World referred to the RT in a Tweet as being “allergic to effort”. That sums it up pretty well.

I went to a Browns practice while I was on vacation and saw their #2 OL struggle a lot – even in Indy drills. Not much depth there.

You see the same thing in defensive highlight films all the time – some dude coming through unblocked and making a play. Well, hell – he should make the tackle if he’s unblocked! What I want to see in a highlight film is a guy getting blocked, then playing off that block and making the stop. That’s when I admire defensive players.

The number of penalties being called in the NFL this year could be scary – and changing the game for the worse, in my opinion. Yeah, I’m an offensive guy, but that doesn’t mean that I want a penalty if the DB even breathes on my receiver (unless that DB plays for Boston, and then yeah, I do).

What a poised young lady Mo’Ne Davis is! She was by far the highlight for me in the recent Little League World Series. Apparently she wants to play basketball at UConn for Geno Auriemma.  It’s still early, but I certainly wish her luck. With what she has shown at a young age, I have no doubt she’s got the mental make-up to thrive under a demanding coach like Auriemma (whom I am a fan of).

Go see “When the Game Stands Tall”…it’s a good football/team movie. It focuses on just a short time period for Concord De La Salle (2003-2004), so if you want the whole story, read the book – it is excellent!

I remember coaching for Fountain Valley High in the 90’s and thinking, “Well sure they win – they’re not playing anyone up there. Wait until they play Poly or Mater Dei.” Then they did – and kicked both of their butts. That’s when we all sat up and paid attention. Having coached against Long Beach Poly, I can tell you it was no fun….zero fun.

That’s it for now – don’t forget to go and let us know that you’re coming to the camp on the FB page (here, again). It also wouldn’t hurt to pay – that helps us out with knowing for sure how many shirts we need, whether we need to grab extra coaches, etc. Thanks!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Major Camp Updates!

OK, here’s a snapshot of what we have planned for the camp as of today:

Friday, November 14, 2014
Players/coaches arrive in San Diego. A rental car will probably be a necessity. The recommended hotel is Best Western Santee ( It is only 1.5 miles from the high school, and has very reasonable rates.
When people arrive they can call (619-846-9678) or e-mail me ( if any assistance is needed. I could possibly coordinate a few rides out to the hotel, but it is a little bit of a trip, so I’d only be able to make one or two trips personally.

We’ll have informal talks/greeting/beverage drinking at either the hotel or one of the restaurants across the street.

Saturday, November 15, 2014
Registration/check-in starts at 8:00 am at Santana High School (9915 Magnolia Ave, Santee, CA 92071 is the official address, but enter from the 2nd Street entrance to the north of the school).

Camp cost is only $20 for players or visiting coaches. Sessions may be filmed.  Our emphasis is on sharing knowledge in a football setting. The cost includes a camp t-shirt. Oh, our team masseuse will also be on hand to work out the kinks! He is saying that he’ll donate his services, but we would really encourage you to tip him out, even if it is only $5. He does a great job.

The camp is a padded one. The bare minimum should be helmets and shoulder pads. We’re not looking to kill anyone, but we also don’t need unnecessary injuries.

We will have a series of on-the-field practices and classroom talks in order to help everyone fully grasp the techniques and concepts taught. The on-field sessions will be fast-paced, since almost all of the talking will be done indoors. Each session will last 35 minutes. These sessions last from 9:10 until 12:05 Saturday morning. Be prepared to move between sessions with a sense of urgency to get the maximum amount of information from the camp!

For lunch we are working on having it catered to the school for a nominal cost per plate (looking at $7). If it comes through, believe me you’ll be happy – the food is excellent!

After lunch (1:30) we’ll head back out between the field and classrooms until 5:05. We’ll close Saturday with classroom talks until about 6:00.

Saturday night, there are several restaurants and fast food types of places very close to both the high school and the hotel. We’re working on getting some either free or heavily discounted vouchers for one of the restaurants.

Sunday, November 16, 2014
Sunday will be much like Saturday, starting at 9:00 on the field! We’ll go from 9:00 until Noon, then again until about 3:00.

The ultimate goal will be to have some competitive one-on-one OL/DL sessions and then some 7-on-7 sessions, filmed by our team film guy (who is awesome).

Camp will end at 3:00, so we encourage you to get the latest flights out possible. Southwest currently has 3 flights leaving at 4:25 PM or later to Chicago. Other airlines may have more options.

As some of you may have experienced before, trying to play a game with two days’ preparation is tough, as there are really too many moving pieces. That’s why All Star games are usually so ugly! So that’s why we’re not going that route. We want to you to come out and compete with some of the best players in the country, using techniques and tips given to you by some of the finest teachers in the women’s game.

Here is a list of coaches we have so far:
Will Harris, Surge Head Coach/Linebackers
Mark Ring, Surge Offensive Line Coach
Carrie Suggett, Surge Offensive Coordinator
Mike Suggett, Surge Defensive Coordinator
Mike Vargas, Surge Wide Receivers Coach
 (Other Surge staff may be announced soon)

Visiting coaches include:
Billy Hughes, Jr., Offensive Line Coach, Dallas Diamonds
Lori Locust, Defensive Line Coach, Central Penn Piranhas (men’s team)
Rick Rasmussen, Head Coach, Utah Falconz
Angel Rivera III, DB coach, Dallas Diamonds
Matt Russell, former Head Coach of the Dallas Diamonds
Ed Williams, Line Coach, Kansas City Titans

With 11 coaches on hand, you can be sure that there will be a great player/coach ratio. All of these programs have been consistent winners:
San Diego Surge: 2011, 2012, 2014 American Conference Champions, 2012 WFA National Champion
Dallas Diamonds: 2011, 2012 Semi-finalist, 2013 American Conference Champion
Kansas City Titans: 2014 Semi-finalist
Utah Falconz: Undefeated as an independent in their first year of existence, including a victory over the Seattle Majestics (WFA playoff team).

Central Penn Piranhas:  Annually one of the top-ranked men’s semi-pro teams in the country.

So get your flights, reserve your rooms. We'll have details on how to register and pay for the camp itself soon.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Camp Update & Time of Reflection

As we head into the start of the offseason, the luxury of doing work without a weekly deadline (with the exception of this blog!) is nice. I’ve begun looking at everything I did last year and seeing where we were weak and where we may have been strong but could do better. There is no sense of complacency in any area. I’m especially looking at my own communication skills to improve in that area. In that regard, I would highly recommend Proactive Coaching ( or you can find them on Facebook). I think you’ll find their material interesting and thought-provoking.

I’m excited to announce (95% sure of his attendance) another great guest coach for our camp in November – Head Coach Rick Rasmussen from the Utah Falconz. Rick brings a diversity of knowledge and experience. He has some great ideas on leadership, along with the wealth of knowledge he brings in the area of option offense. If you’ve seen any film at all on the Falconz, you’ll know he had their offense running on all cylinders, which was very impressive for a first-year team.

Coach Rasmussen will join the other previously announced coaches from around the country: Matt Russell, Angel Rivera III and Billy Hughes, Jr. from Dallas; Ed Williams from Kansas City and Lori Locust from Pennsylvania.

We’re hoping to have a host hotel announced soon – that is our next priority. Also, I’ll be creating a Facebook page as another avenue for information. If anyone feels like letting their creative side come out, we’re looking for a simple logo. Just contact me at

Now the reflection…..I received a very sad piece of news from the men’s side of the game today. A player that I coached against the last couple of years sustained a severe neck injury during a game a couple of weeks ago. He was paralyzed, but seemed to be fighting through it. I heard Monday that he passed away from cardiac arrest Sunday night.

He was a defensive lineman and apparently tackled the RB on a simple dive play. I have not seen the play on film, all I know is it seemed routine and that the RB is carrying around an awful lot of guilt.

This type of tragedy should serve as a reminder for all coaches, but especially women’s coaches whose players probably don’t have the neck strength of their male counterparts, to emphasize head up tackling and blocking. See your target! The head should NEVER be the initial point of contact in any block or tackle.

I think a lot of times, proper tackling form is taught in preseason, perhaps in shorts only and then forgotten about – there are more pressing items, with games coming each week and all the adjustments that need to be made and all…..but we all have a responsibility to keep our players as safe as possible. Things may still happen – football is a dangerous game – but we have to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to teach, emphasize and remind our players of proper, safe technique. If you as a coach have any questions about how to do that, I would highly encourage you to contact USA Football at for more information.

Also, I heard about the passing of Veronica “Ro” Gazzillo of the Chicago Force. I never met her, but we used to banter back and forth on Dion Lee’s message board. She seemed like a wonderful person, and the news saddened me greatly. I lost a very dear friend the same way a few years ago, so know exactly what those close to her are feeling. So please….if any of you are ever feeling alone or with no way out, please, please reach out. Let’s all do whatever we can to lessen the chances of any more tragedies, on or off the field.

Be good, be safe….see you next week.

(PS - next week's blog will be out on Thursday, as Coach Suggett and I are meeting on the camp Wednesday night)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Championship Post Mortem

OK, so by now if you follow women’s football at all, you know the outcome of the National Championship game on Saturday. We lost to the Boston Militia, 69-34. There’s not much we can say, but I’ll try….

Boston is everything we thought they would be. We sort of had an idea that we might have to score in the 50’s in order to win. Three fumbles, two in the first couple of series, pretty much ensured that we weren’t going to do that. If you just look at our offensive numbers in a vacuum, you might say we played pretty well: 420 yards of offense, 4.75 yards per carry, 22 first downs, almost 300 yards passing. But again, those 3 fumbles killed us. We also gave up a sack, only the third of the year, but at an inconvenient moment.

The thing that really impressed me about Boston was their offensive line. I think it is the best in the game. I think we’re second, but they are really, really good. Plus, individually, they are very strong and each of them seem to have that nasty mentality that great offensive linemen have.

Defensively, obviously if you give up 69 points it is pretty ugly. What we’ll need to look at is if individual players always tackled like they did Saturday and got away with it because of inferior competition or if all of a sudden we forgot how to tackle and we all just decided to have a lousy game at once. I tend to think it was the former. For the most part, we had people in place to make plays, and didn’t. Hats off to Boston’s running backs, especially Whitney Zelee, who was as good as advertised.

We also didn’t help ourselves with a particularly bad penalty….we had Boston 4th and 10, at about our 40. They punted, but we were offsides. Now it’s 4th and 5, they go for it, and score a TD on that play. It was that kind of night.

So…. now what? We’ve already met as a staff to candidly discuss what we need to do to get better. Obviously, Boston has become to us now what Dallas was to us back in 2004-07, the hump we have to get over. We focused on Dallas and were able to beat them every time we played them since 2006. It remains to be seen what kind of success we’ll have against Boston in the future, but we have a very clear picture of where we want to go and how to get there. You’ll see a different Surge team in 2015.

Quite honestly, the advantage we have over other teams who want to get where we’re at is that we’ve been there so often. A 43-4 record since 2011 (with 2 of those losses against Boston) and three appearances in the national championship game mean that we’ve got a formula. It may not be the formula, as I’m not sure there is only one way to get it done, but we’ve certainly got a successful one.

So we’ve got a little down time….the rest of August. I should have some camp updates next Wednesday when I get back on schedule. Overall, the last week being on vacation was great. Just a three-hour period on Saturday was less than fun. But hey, it was still championship football, so, really, how bad could it have been?