Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Until Next Year

As expected, there were some great games this weekend. First things first, ours:

Dallas is a good team. They’re Final Four for a reason. The final score (56-28, Dallas), is slightly misleading, as it was only 28-22 them at the start of the 4th. We were right there. Then we went through a period where we couldn’t do anything right on either side of the ball. But that’s it…..there was nothing else to it. They beat us. I can say that every time we’ve played in Texas, we’ve always had a good referee crew. These guys were good too. It was hot, but not so bad that it affected us like it did at Central Cal. The kickoff was at 7:00. So….no excuses at all. They’re a good team, we’re a good team. They beat us, period, end of story.

Chicago went to DC. I really, truly, had zero idea of how it would turn out. I haven’t seen the film yet, but hearing that a RB (Kenyatta Grigsby) had a franchise-record 342 yards against a defense as physical as Chicago’s certainly got my attention. I mean, I know that DC is a big, strong, physical team. But considering that we only got 34 yards on the ground against Chicago in our 2012 win, ten times that amount (by one player) is almost incomprehensible. Chicago also seemed to hang in there, and I’m sure that both coaches pulled out all the stops. I saw in the Twitter feed that Chicago’s QB, Rachel Gore, made a couple of tackles on defense. My immediate thought was, “That can’t be good for the Force, having their QB on defense.” I guess injuries may have caught up with them, although at this time of year, everyone has their share.

Finally, there was the IWFL championship between Utah and Pittsburgh. I wasn’t sure how this was going to go either. On one hand, Utah’s offense can be tough to prepare for in a short period of time. Then again, so can Pittsburgh’s if you haven’t seen any decent passing offenses prior to that, and Utah hadn’t. Utah’s difficulty lies in their scheme, and Pittsburgh’s lies in their execution and different style of offense. I think in the end, it came down to big game experience against better teams. Pittsburgh’s strength of schedule was at 2 and Utah’s was at 11.  Add in the fact that Pittsburgh has played for titles before, and you have an advantage. In any case, it sounded like a hell of a game. That’s a film I’d love to see (hint, hint to whoever may have it).

All right, having said all that, here is my National Top Ten…agree or disagree, it’s all good. Please, if you want to be vocal about your disagreement, just detail why. Tell me your thought process. This is in no way scientific, just coming from someone who has seen and/or coached against almost all of these teams. 

Please keep in mind that there are: 1) multiple levels of talent in the women’s game. There may be a large margin between just a few places in the rankings. Not so much in this top 10 maybe, but if you get out of this list too much, it shows up in a hurry; 2) it is still difficult to rate the IWFL teams in with the WFA. Pittsburgh winning the game pretty much slotted them on a historical basis. Seeing how they played against other teams (New York and Carolina) tended to confirm that. Anyway, here you go:
  1.  DC Divas - I don’t think there is any doubt about this one. I’ve said it before, that they look like the closest to a “sure thing” as I’ve seen this year. I expect them to win it all in two weeks.
  2. Chicago Force – Yes, I know they’re not one of the last teams standing. However, their loss in DC doesn’t diminish their overall talent.
  3. Dallas Elite – They have speed to burn, for sure. They were more physical up front on both sides than I thought they would be, but I think both teams above are more so. Both the above teams also have great speed.
  4. San Diego Surge – I honestly do believe that we were Top 4 this year. I think that we could/would have beaten Boston. It would’ve been close for sure, but I do believe we would get them this year, especially at the end. 
  5. Boston Renegades – see above. Still a very, very good team that ran into a hungry Divas and revenge-minded Force.
  6. Cleveland Fusion – very quietly, the Fusion have built an extremely solid team. I hope they stick around in the WFA and keep at it.
  7. Central Cal War Angels – easily the toughest defense we faced all year. When they are on and their heads are in the game, they are very good.
  8. Pittsburgh Passion – as I mentioned above, the way that Pittsburgh performed against the Sharks and Queens pretty much slotted them here.
  9. Utah Falconz – They will probably not agree with this, but as I said, there are still more levels to the women’s game than they’ve been exposed to. They saw some of it against Pittsburgh, but there are probably two more levels above that (#’s 4 through 7, and then 1-3).
  10. Seattle Majestics – very well-coached, extremely solid defense. Efficient offense. They tend not to beat themselves, and that in itself is huge at this level.

OK, so that’s one controversial topic…..let me hit another: Jen Welter’s hiring as a coaching intern for the Arizona Cardinals. Yes, I think that it is good exposure for the women’s game, especially if she comes out and talks about her origins in the sport. I hope that she does well enough that Coach Arians will give her a good recommendation – if she doesn’t, or seems in over her head, then that will make it that much tougher for another female coach to get the same opportunity. Having said that, I think it is a shame that a female coach who has coached guys for much longer than Jen has didn’t get a shot. Her name is Lori “Lo” Locust, and she is flat out one of the best DL coaches I’ve ever seen. Notice that I didn’t add “for a woman”. I would hire her in a flash anywhere I worked.

Lo has coached at both the high school and semi-pro ranks with one of the best men’s teams in the country, the Central Penn Piranhas. They’ve won multiple national championships with her on the staff. She’s coached the DL, OL (at the high school level) and ST. I forget which team she played for (Keystone Assault I think?) but her playing career was pretty much done by the time that Team USA came around. 

Anyway, Lo’s problem (and I’ve told her this repeatedly) is that she is publicity-adverse. She doesn’t have her own website or really try to get her name out there – she just coaches, period. But if another NFL team wants a quality coach, regardless of gender, they’d do well to give her a chance.


All right….this is getting long. Thanks for hanging in there. Next week I’ll give a men’s team update and talk more about the upcoming camp! See ya!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

2015 Camp Announcement

OK, I know this is a little later than last year, but we’ve got most of the groundwork done this time around. The 2nd Annual RS Football Camp is slated for the weekend of November 13 through 15 (Friday night through Sunday afternoon). There’s nothing “official” going on Friday night, but if anyone gets in early and wants to talk some ball, we’ll be around. I’ll be setting up a Facebook event soon.

Here are the basic details:
Dates: November 14-15, 2015
Times: Saturday: 9:00 am to about 4:30 or 5:00 pm; Sunday: 8:00 am to about 3:00 pm
Place: Santana High School, Santee, CA
Cost: $40 per player or visiting (non-instructing) coach. Yes, this is more than we charged last year, but all profits still go to the coaches who will be travelling in to volunteer their time. There wasn’t enough to go around last time for all the work and expense they put in getting out here. $40 for about 15 hours of instruction? Find me a better deal anywhere!  :-)

Staff: Members of the San Diego Surge staff will be available. As with last year, we don’t want to make this about us – we want to draw from the best practices from as many sources as we can. If you consider yourself to be a great teacher, especially a great technician, then we’d like to talk to you. Please send me either a Facebook message or drop me an e-mail at Last year we had coaches from Utah and Dallas out. Those coaches are absolutely invited again but variety is good also!

This is a padded camp. You can attend without pads, but you’ll miss out on a lot of the fun. The OL/DL pass rush segments were intense last year, as was some of the 7-on-7 work. From the comments we had last year, we’re not doing too much in the classroom this time. Almost all of the camp will be done on the field. The closest we’ll get to a classroom is if part of a session is being done in the bleachers.

So – you’ve got four months to plan your San Diego in November vacation!

I was reminded Saturday night (not that I needed one, but this one was especially painful) that everything on offense starts with the offensive line. If you don’t have a decent one, it is really, really tough to get anything going on defense, especially when the opposing DL is pretty good.

My men’s team, of which I am the OC, got shut out, 21-0. I’ve gone through multiple seasons (like, the last three with the Surge) giving up fewer sacks than we did on Saturday. I dunno….10…12? Something ridiculous like that. We came out in a full slide protection because we were concerned about up-the-middle pressure. Didn’t work. We then decided that we would get more favorable matchups if we slid only one direction. Didn’t work. Then we went Big On Big – didn’t work. Finally, we did something I swore I’d never do, and that was max protect with both backs coming to the edge, and the entire OL blocking inside, like on a field goal. Still didn’t work. We got absolutely manhandled. Only when they put in their backups did we get any semblance of time.

It was embarrassing, and one of the longest games of my life. We had nothing in the run game either. Now, to be absolutely fair, there are things that happen in the men’s game that don’t normally happen in the women’s…, one of my guards I didn’t even know as a human being 48 hours before the game. The kid is full of heart and tenacity, but was just giving up way too much weight against a pretty good DT. My other guard is one of the nicest and most enthusiastic kids I’ve ever coached (and “kid” is a definite relative term here – they’re grown men), but in all honesty, I’m not sure he’s ever played the game before. I had him for three practices. Rookies I'm used to - I get them every year with the Surge, and one has started for me every game at LG this year. But I had her for 16 practices before our first game.

So….back to the recruiting trail I go. I’ve identified some things we can probably do next week (so if you’re reading this Ray, I got you!), but it’ll have to be done “in absentia” by my QB coach and OL coach, since I’ll be in Dallas.

All right then…..two great games this weekend, who you got? Chicago at DC, and the Surge at Dallas. I talked about those games last week.

There’s also the IWFL league championship (sorry, but I refuse to use the league’s pretentious “world championship” moniker) this weekend, the Utah Falconz vs the Pittsburgh Passion. I have no idea who will win, since I haven’t seen the Passion play. If Lisa Horton is out, I think it’ll be very tough for them, as she is pretty darn good. I think overall the Passion is a solid team, but let’s also remember that they were never able to get over the Boston/DC/Chicago hump, usually finishing third in their division when both Boston and DC were in there with them.

The Falconz are a pretty good team too – I think. They haven’t played anyone, even though according to them, they’ve been the underdog in at least three or four games. I have to laugh every time I see that type of talk. I expected them to contend in the WFA – and who knows – they might have been playing this weekend if they were in the WFA. Or maybe they would’ve been bounced out by now. No one really has any idea of how good they truly are. 
But I have plenty of friends over there, so I hope they do win, and then come over to the WFA next year.

In any case, good football is here and we should enjoy it!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Final Four

OK, great weekend of women’s football! We hosted the 9-0 Seattle Majestics at our place on Saturday. We beat them in Seattle last year, 36-20, but that was last year, you know? As the OL coach, I was extremely concerned about their defense, especially one of their defensive tackles, Kase Tukutau and their MLB, Holly Custis – both really, really good players.

Seattle recovered an onside kick to start the game, drove down the field and scored. We came out, and on our second play threw an interception. They went back down the field and scored, making it 13-0. It wasn’t looking good for the home town team. Fortunately, we blocked the extra point and returned it for a 2-point conversion. I found it interesting that we’ve only done that twice, and both times it has been against Seattle. Last year, the block & return dampened what could have been a psychological hit going in just before the half. This year it gave us a little bit of momentum.

Last year, we found our stride in the second half with the run game. This year, although I don’t think it was our initial idea, we relied on the run game from the start, and it paid off big time. We rang up 405 yards on the ground…..that’s Wisconsin, Stanford, Arkansas type numbers! We averaged 6.5 yards a carry, so although that is below our season average, when you’re playing against a talented defense that gave up only 30 points in 9 games, I’ll take it. Besides, at this point in the season, a win is a win….no need for style points.

Two of the other games went as expected – Dallas repeated their walloping of Kansas City and DC dominated Atlanta. The game that really surprised me was Chicago beating the heck out of Boston. Yeah, I knew that DC beat them pretty badly, but that was in DC. I’m not so surprised that Chicago won, but the utter domination they displayed was. I know Chicago expended a bit of pent-up revenge factor and that victory was a long time coming, but I didn’t expect that to happen in Boston. So….now the title will be passed.

To who, I have no idea. That’s why my personal expectation is to make it to where we are right now – the Final Four – each year. But what happens at this level of competition is really hard to predict. Both of the games on July 18 should be great ones. We’re going down to Dallas to face the Diam….ooops, sorry – the Elite. People on both sides of the ball will have faced each other over the years since 2004. Dallas got us in ’04, ’05 and ’06. We got them twice in 2007. We didn’t see them again until 2011 and 2012, where we won both times. So the series is in our favor 4-3. I think we may be the only team to have a winning record against them, and you know they’d love to even things up.

Chicago is going to DC. Wow, I have ZERO idea how this will end up, but I’m 99.98% sure it is going to be a great game! The Force may be peaking at the right time, and DC will be looking for their first title trip since 2009 (?), so you know they’re hungry. DC has the biggest (both in numbers and in size) roster I’ve seen since the old Houston Energy heyday…..all their OL look over 6’ and they’ve got some real height at receiver, and just athleticism that borders on ridiculous. I haven’t watched a lot of them yet this year (but don’t worry – we have people that have), but in the past they were sort of generic on both offense and defense – giving you nice, “clean” looks. They just beat the heck out of you with their talent. They execute at a very high level. Chicago, on the other hand, gives you more in the way of things to prepare for and then they beat the heck out of you with their talent.

One thing that I am surer of this year than any other, is that the best four teams in the country are playing for the title. There is no weak sister in this bunch at all. Any of the four could conceivably win it all, and I don’t think anyone would raise an eyebrow. That’s the way a Final Four should be.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


With our victory last week, we once again remain one of the Elite Eight teams in the nation. My own personal expectation in a league as tough as the WFA, is to be in the Final Four each year, so we’re not quite there yet. Coming down to visit this week are the undefeated Seattle Majestics, currently ranked #7 in the country. Playing teams like Seattle are what makes our year. We’re fortunate this year to have been tested earlier by the rise of Pacific and Central Cal, and I believe that will make us stronger from here on out.

Obviously I expect a great game from Seattle this weekend – but who else is playing?
Kansas City (#15) goes down to Dallas (#5). In the past, this has been a tight series, but I don’t see it that way this year. I think the reappearance of the St. Louis Slam hurt the Titans a lot. Being that Dallas beat Kansas City 78-6 in Kansas City in Week 3 doesn’t bode well for the Titans. I really like some of the Titan players, but I just don’t see how they can make up 10 touchdowns, you know?

Chicago (#3) goes to Boston (#2). Should be the game of the week. I thought that this would be Chicago’s year, but Boston besting them in Chicago, along with DC beating Boston twice, gives me reason to reevaluate. Coach Konecki will have his players hyped, but will it be enough? It’s hard to believe that Chicago will have the same torrent of turnovers they had in the first meeting. Usually a team that puts the ball on the ground 11 times get blown out, but this was an overtime loss. However, as Boston likes to say, until someone takes the title from them, they’re still the champs. If this game was in Chicago, I’d give it to the Force, but in Boston…..who knows?

Atlanta (#10) goes to DC (#1). I’ve said before that DC is the only team that looks dominant this year. Yes, they’ll have to prove it one more time against either Boston or Chicago, but I don’t see Atlanta pulling it off. I guess I’m still biased against the southern teams due to one of their teams finishing 10-0 every year and then getting blown out in the first round. Until one of them can beat someone outside of their immediate region, my bias will remain.
Best of luck to everyone playing, and let’s get through this week injury-free!

For more information on the Women's Football Association (WFA), please go to:

A rave and then a couple of rants…..

I want to give a shout out to my Surge offensive line, and it has nothing to do with their technical prowess (although I do think they’re pretty darn good, having allowed only 1 sack all year, and averaging well north of the 7 yards per carry that is my standard). I want to talk about the way they approach practice. First of all, as a group, they’re there…..every time. There have been times when attendance for the rest of the team has been a little shaky, but the OL is always there. A few of them have missed a practice here and there, but I’d say they are right around a 95% attendance rate among them.

Second, they get bored easily, and that’s a good thing. They want to be working, all practice. My rookies, Sarah Zito, Mercedes Tyler and Karen Plogger (recovering from an injury) just jump in and do whatever is asked of them. They’ve embraced the “guardian” mantle we talk about. Our veteran leaders, Eboni Chambers, Jessica Cable, Jen White, Chris Carrillo (injured) along with Katrina Walter (when I get her from the defense) aren’t rah-rah types at all, just like most good OL. They lead by example and have each helped out the rookies. It is very refreshing to see the “let’s go to work” mentality being passed on to the new players *by* players, instead of necessarily having to come from me. They are a great group to coach!

Now the rants…..

I love my men’s team OL, individually, I really do. They’re great guys. The problem is, they have an aversion to coming to practice as a group. We’ve had 7 practices so far and I haven’t had 5 OL at a single one of them. I don’t understand (and probably never will) what it is about the men’s game where players (and sometimes coaches) think they can just blow off practices. I mean, the Surge OL all have jobs, school, families, etc., and they find a way to make it to practice. I always hear “well, that’s semi-pro for you” or, “that’s just the way it is” and I absolutely refuse to accept that. Football is football! None of those guys who grew up playing the game were ever told that practice is optional. So when did that ethos change? When they are there, the guys pick up on what we’re trying to do pretty quickly, but in order to get to our full potential the OL has to work as a unit, often. Hopefully now that games are closer, there will be a little more in the way of a “sense of urgency” that takes hold with them.

You can file this one under “only in semi-pro” as well: We had a very good defensive coach with us for about 5 weeks. On July 18, we open with a traditional rival for us, from North County. Last week, that coach told us he was leaving, for (you guessed it) our July 18 opponent. So here’s a coach that has been intimately involved with our team throughout our game planning phase and two weeks before the game he decides to not only leave, but go coach for the team he helped prepare us for! Who does that? Don’t misunderstand – I get him leaving us, that’s cool. I get him going to coach for the North County team – that’s cool too. But the honorable thing would have been to say, “Hey, I’ll come coach you guys – starting July 19.” I’m just relieved I didn’t give him as much info as he wanted on our offense.

All right……I’m sure there will be plenty to talk about next week, given the four huge games this week. See you then!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


OK, so the big thing everyone wanted to talk about a couple weeks ago was our loss to the War Angels up in Delano (25 miles or so north of Bakersfield, otherwise known as “Hell on Earth” – sorry Delanoians, but y’all must have done something wrong in a previous life to be forced to live there).

There are a few basic causes of the loss, and let me put them in order of importance:

1.   The War Angels played very, very well. They are a national Top 10 (#8) team for a reason. They had to play in the same heat we did, and they pulled it off.

2.    The War Angel staff put together a great game plan, especially on defense.

3.    My mind was baked. I’m the first to admit that I’m a wimp in the heat. I mentioned in the last blog about how miserable I was the entire time. I looked out at their defense and saw how they aligned. My mind told me they were a standard 3-4, but they were doing things post-snap that didn’t match with that at all. Once I got home and looked at the film, I saw exactly what they were doing. We had an adjustment already in for what they did in action (had started running it as far back as our West Coast Lightning game), but it was more for a 4-3 look. Again, my mind just didn’t process what was going on. You can blame probably 70% of our run game woes on me. I’m still kicking myself for that – I needed to be better right then.

4.  We wilted in the heat. There’s no sugar coating that. You look at our film and many of our players looked like they were running in quicksand. Yeah, we were missing a couple of players and had a couple more go down with injuries or heat-related issues, but the ones that were in were slower than normal, no doubt about it. We need to be better prepared individually if we make it out to Dallas. Me? I’ll be up in the booth where I can remain clear-headed.  :-)

So, as many of you know, we had a rematch in the first round of the playoffs this past week. The outcome was different. Not as stark as our initial meeting this year when we won at home 55-26, but in the playoffs I’ll take a 27-7 win any day. What was different?

1.    #3 above was fixed. They came out doing the same things they did defensively before. Why wouldn’t they? However our adjustment was in from the beginning. We didn’t exactly run all over them, don’t get me wrong – they’re still a very, very good defensive team. But we didn’t have the constant negative yardage plays on our base runs that we had before.

2.       Our OC also made some formation adjustments that worked out well for us, given how they aligned to them. Whether or not those stay in the game plan is yet to be determined (Hi Coach McCarron!).  :-)

3.    We had a couple of players back that we didn’t have two weeks ago. While they didn’t have a huge impact, but their presence forced attention and they provided valuable depth. As they let their injuries heal and/or practice with regularity they’ll be a LOT better.

4.  There’s an old saying in football (maybe all team sports, but especially an emotional sport like football) that says, “A team will take on the personality of their head coach.” If the HC remains calm in moments of adversity, the team will tend to do so as well. If the HC doesn’t do that, then the team will follow – especially when some of them are predisposed to be temperamental anyway. And that’s what happened…..honestly, it took some of the satisfaction out of the win for me personally. I wanted to beat them with their best defensive player on the field. However, her actions led to her ejection. The actions of their coach led to about 60 yards in penalties. We’ve seen them both do this before. They are emotional and fiery. Sometimes they can’t channel what could be a good thing properly, and it costs them. This was one of those times, and it is unfortunate. I don’t know their player hardly at all, just from coaching against her since 2011 when she was with the Bay Area Bandits. I’ve talked to their coach a number of times and I like him personally. He’s obviously a good coach. But this week, in my opinion, his actions hurt them.

For us now, it is hosting the 9-0 Seattle Majestics, who are now ranked #7. Last year, their defense gave us fits early on and I expect the same type of tough battle again. Of course, last year it was us travelling north and now they get to visit us. I just noticed something in the Massey ratings… a cruel twist of fate, we jumped over the Dallas Elite, we are at 4 and they’re at 5. Last year, assuming that we get past Seattle, it would have meant that Dallas would have to come to us. This year, the ratings were locked after the regular season, so we have to go to Dallas no matter what (if we beat Seattle). Oh well…..

I hope you all have a great 4th of July weekend!