Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Expectations & Review

While watching one of the women’s games this past weekend, I realized there is an interesting difference at the semi-pro level between the women’s and men’s game, and it lies in the expectations of coaches. When talking about plays/system/scheme I’m starting to believe that coaches in general overestimate what male players can do and underestimate what female players can do.

To be sure, at the elite level of the women’s game, this isn’t the case at all. I know staffs from across the country who are extremely demanding of their players, and if you looked solely at their schemes they are every bit as complex and advanced as their male counterparts. But at the “regular” level of the game, there just seems to be so much of the same ol’, same ol’ and I *know* the players are capable of more! You see teams lined up in an “I” formation probably 90% of the time and running three plays out of it. Or Double Wing teams….which is OK, if you look crisp. I do wish teams would remember that we’re in the entertainment business. Boring can be OK if you’re winning, but if you’re boring AND losing, you won’t have a fan base for very long.

Me personally, I probably tend to overestimate on both sides what my players are capable of. I always think I’m going to install a bunch of stuff, and then have to dial it back a little. The difference is that my female players will never say, “Oh, we can’t do that” whereas my guys will. With the women, I have to look at what our results are and what the reality is out on the field, and then dial it back. With the guys, they’ll flat out tell me something isn’t going to work before they even try it. In that respect, I definitely prefer the women’s approach – “OK, cool – let’s do this” and then trusting me to adjust. I think that with the guys, they’ve grown up thinking about the game certain ways, and those high school or JC thought patterns tend to stay with them. When they’re presented with something new, only those with adaptable personalities are able to go with it.

Anyway, I’m not sure why there is a difference, it just seems to me that there is. One other thing I’ve noticed is that men don’t seem to have the ability to do things at a learning tempo – it’s like they’re afraid to look like they’ve lost at anything. They don’t see the big picture – that we’re trying to learn a new concept or new play, and might have to run it a bunch of times in a row to get it right. 

Sometimes it’s OK if you have someone from the same side of the ball as the opposing player. But if it is an offensive drill and you’ve got defenders over there (or vice versa), you can forget about a learning tempo. It is flat out competition. And I can see the guys’ point (sometimes) – they’re out there to compete and make each other better. I get that. But in order to get better at something, you usually have to start out doing it slowly and make a few mistakes along the way. That’s why these last few weeks with the Nighthawks in no pads were so valuable. At appropriate times, guys were flying around making plays. But at others we were able to get some stuff down before stuff starts happening really fast – like next week in pads!

Over the last couple of weeks in the women’s game, one score stood out to me above all others: Portland beating Seattle handily (40 to 0). That signals a sea change in the Pacific Northwest, where for the last few years Seattle has reigned supreme. I’m not sure if this is a result of Portland improving *that much* after the merger, or of Seattle dropping off. Quite honestly, right now I’m thinking there is a bit of a drop off in Seattle, because I saw their 13-0 score over the Tacoma Trauma and was surprised by that. However, the Fighting Fillies and the Shockwave combining forces had to have made them better. Either way, Portland is the team to beat up there, and if they truly did improve that much, then the War Angels had better look out.

Speaking of the War Angels, looks like they’ll finally play a team worth playing this week, when they face the Sin City Trojans. Both teams are at 3-0, and the Trojans haven’t been scored on yet. I’m going to pick the War Angels by a comfortable (28+) margin.

There’s been some debate about which team is better, the Chicago Force or the Dallas Elite. I don’t know for sure, although right now I’m leaning towards the Elite. However, in looking at remaining schedules, the Force also play the Divas, they play Boston AND they play Pittsburgh. If Chicago gets through their schedule unscathed, then I think the tide turns towards them. The Elite aren’t likely to be tested again until maybe when they play the War Angels, and even then I think they have way too much speed for Central Cal to handle. There’s some talk about the Elite’s game this week against KC as being a big one. I’m sure they’d love to hype it as that, but I’m not seeing it as close.

Over in the IWFL, there have been a couple of rating systems that have teams other than Utah as #1. Obviously these people have never watched football in their life. Sure, Utah’s strength of schedule may stink, but in the IWFL, saying someone has a strong schedule is like saying Doc was the tallest of the Seven Dwarfs. Utah remains a Top 10 team in the nation – not just in the IWFL, but in the WFA as well. Too bad we won’t find out how good they are.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

WFA - IWFL Opening Weeks

Thanks for all those who asked about missing last week’s post – there wasn’t one. In past years since I’ve written this blog (almost 2 years now), I’ve always had games with the Surge around this time, so had plenty to write about. This year is a little different, since we’re just gearing up for the start of practice with the Nighthawks. Since I didn’t have a lightning bolt of inspiration last week, I didn’t want to put a bunch of words together just to do it, you know? Anyway…..

Two weeks ago, in Week 1 of the WFA, the games all went the way I expected them to, except for one: The Indy Crash pulled off what I would consider a pretty major upset when they beat the Cleveland Fusion, in Cleveland. The Fusion were my dark horse pick to break into the elite of the WFA National Conference, so we’ll have to see exactly how that plays out from here on out. Great job Indy!

This week, there were a couple of games of note: The Kansas City Titans versus the St. Louis Slam, and in the Big Rematch, the Dallas Elite, who travelled to the DC Divas in a very rare cross-conference regular season game. Also out West, you had the Central Cal War Angels taking on the Pacific Warriors.

The shocker, at least to me, was the 40-19 Dallas victory over DC. I’m not so surprised by an Elite victory, but by 3 TD’s, in D.C.? That was the shocker…..I never thought a team as proud as the Divas would get rolled like that on their home field, especially in their first big test after their national championship win over the same Elite. Gotta hand it to Dallas – that was a heckuva win.

The Titans, as I expected beat the Slam. My opinion only, which means zilch is that I wish the KC/St. Louis split never happened. When they banded together in 2014, they were pretty damn good.

Also as I expected, the War Angels took out the Warriors. The War Angels, interestingly enough, seemed to pick up more former Surge players than anyone else. Well, they may be tied with the North County Stars of the IWFL, whose high number was to be expected.

Interesting to me was the Seattle Majestics final score of 13-0 over the Tacoma Trauma. If I remember correctly, Seattle has dominated that series in the past. Seattle has yet to be scored on, and with them missing one of their leaders on defense, Holly Custis, much credit has to go to coach Scott McCarron.

The Boston Renegades beat Cleveland 28-7. I was looking for the Fusion to take that next step this season, but opening up 0-2 isn’t helping them much.

Over in the IWFL, the game that got my attention was the Carson Bobcats going up to Sacramento and beating the Sirens 30-6. Apparently the Bobcats didn’t pick up as many of the Pacific Warriors as I originally thought/assumed, so to take a pretty much new team and go up to Sacramento and win is a tall order, and impressive. When we went up there in 2013 it wasn’t pretty at all! That sets up what hopefully should be a good game this coming Saturday of the Bobcats versus the NC Stars. I’m looking forward to seeing that especially because two of my former Surge OL are playing for the Stars.

With the Nighthawks, our OTA’s (basically non-padded, once-a-week practices) are going well. I’d say we’ve got about 80% of the offense installed and are just getting reps on it. We had 7 OL at practice last week, and I can’t remember the last time that happened with the guys. Everyone is looking to push each other to get better, and even injured guys are coming out and taking mental reps so they don’t get too far behind. That’s the sign of a team that is willing to put in the work.

The backs and receivers are out there getting their reads down, and just trying to play as fast as possible. All of those reps are going to come into play once we get the pads on early next month.


Finally, because I figured that I don’t have enough to do, I’ve started working with Dual Threat Athletics as an Offensive Lineman specialist/trainer. They’ve got a pretty good skill position program set up already but are looking to expand into all positions. It’s time that some of the big kids get some love too, you know? The one-on-one training sessions I’ve been doing with the local high school OL have been going really well – he’s going to be pretty good, so now it’s time to get more OL out there. So far, I’ve gotten pretty good at coaching 9th & 10th grade WR how to stalk block!