How We Coach is a weekly series that deconstructs how coaches run their program: we explore their unique process, habits, practices, and coaching philosophies. Find out what keeps coaches up at night, how they teach, and what they do to improve every day. #HowWeCoach
Today we are talking to Brett Dudley, Varsity Assistant HC/OC/OL at Antioch HS in Antioch, California. Brett also runs a highly informative blog – check out Coach B Dud’s Blog.
Could you provide a brief description of your background?
Where did you grow up, go to school? I grew up in Concord, CA where I attended Mt. Diablo HS. Immediately after graduating I began coaching football there. I was the varsity OL/DL coach there as well as the assistant HC for 4 years there. Then i began coaching at Antioch HS in Antioch, CA. I was the JV HC/OC for my first year there. The 2nd year I moved up to being the varisty OL coach and assistant HC. For the last 4 seasons I have been the Assistant HC and Varsity OC/OL
How did you end up coaching football?
I always enjoyed the mental side of the game. I was very much a coach on the field while playing. I played center, made all of the line calls, and probably knew the offense better than my coaches. I lacked size and skill, but made up for it with intelligence. Coaching seemed like the natural thing to do when i graduated HS so i immediately began coaching. I fell in love with it and have been doing it the last 10 years.
Can you give a bit of background on your program?
We are a program on the rise in my opinion. When i began coaching varsity here the program has not in good shape. We have ton a lot to turn the program around. In 2014 we won our first playoff game in 30 years. In 2015 we won league for the first time since 1984, and went 10-0 for the first time since 1977. We have a brand new stadium and things are going in the right direction for us.
As a team, what are your core tenants/pillars?
Dedication to the weight room, playing as a team, realizing what is best for the team, and putting that above yourself.
What’s your main philosophy as a coach?
the team that blocks the best and tackles the best wins. Fundamentals/Indy time win games and not the fancy scheme you saw XYZ college run on TV.
We pride ourselves on being a smash-mouth physical football team. We run the ball as well as anyone. We pound you with power football from heavy personnel packages and try to be efficient when we throw the ball in our play action game. Even our WRs are going to get physical on your LBs and safeties and make your corners have to tackle.
How many is on your coaching staff?
10 on our varsity coaching staff
When does a new season start?
The Monday immediately after our season ends.
How do you kick off your planning and preparation?
I never really stop. I begin working our off-season lifting as soon as one season ends. I break down our own offensive data on Hudl and analyze what we did or did not do well. I look back at practice plans/scripts to see how much time we were spending on various concepts. I want to know if I am spending my practice time wisely or what I need to do differently.
Specifically, how do your coaching staff do your planning?
I come up with a base plan for what I think we need to do from Spring Ball on. We will begin meeting once a week usually in March (after clinic season) to go over changes, additions, or teach new staff members. All planning needs to be done by Spring Ball.
What is your main focus areas during the off-season?
Weight room for all players, and getting our skill players to compete in track and field in the Spring. This is the most important thing. Slight playbook tweaks or drill tweaks would take place in the Spring as well.
Could you provide a short summary of the different phases and priorities?
Winter – Dec – Feb: Refresh lifts, improve technique, and get bigger.
Spring – March-mid May: continue to develop strength. Skills get faster by running track. OL increase the volume of agility/footwork
May: Spring ball for 2 weeks then a week off for finals.
Summer, June, July, and half of August: Continue developing in the weight room and power focus. Practice 4 times a week. Tons of fundamental work. 90 % of offense should be installed by now.
Season: End of August – Early December hopefully.
How does a normal off-season week play out? What are the key “milestones”?
Key milestones for us are:
- Spring Break – I can now visibly see which kids have improved themselves in the off-season
- Spring Ball – first time we get to do some real football drills
- July – Team camp. First time seeing us do 11-on-11 against someone else (non-contact).
- August 19 – Scrimmage. After this night, we know exactly what we have.
How does a normal week play out in-season? What are the key “milestones”?
Monday – lift, film, gameplan meeting… little Indy, walk thru any additions/new wrinkles/special game plan notes on field
Tuesday – Offensive emphasis with some D at end
Wednesday – Defensive Emphasis with some O at the end
Thursday – Run through a game script. Run team O and D on air with scripted plays by personnel, yard, hash.
If we haven’t got it down smoothly by Wednesday’s practice I am not running it Friday night (whether it is an old play, a new play, or a new wrinkle etc. )
Do you use analytics as a tool when gameplanning or self-scouting?
This year I did by tagging all of our offensive info into HUDL. Even if you do not get into very high-tech exact data, you can just look at what you have been calling to get an idea of how another team is going to be scouting you. Even without specific analytical data, you can rethink your last couple games and tell yourself
“I know I run it most of the time on 1st down. I should probably mix in a couple more 1st down play actions this week”.
How do you run your scout team?
I actually prefer no scout team. We do a lot of our team O against air. I work our blocks in Indy time. Our team time is just making sure things time up well. I do not like banging kids up during the week at practice. When I use a scout defense I do two things:
- Give them two potential looks, two fronts, and two potential coverages. That is it. Giving our scout defense complex looks and assignments to execute would probably just slow up our tempo and I would be trying to fix them. I give them 2 calls and keep my fingers crossed they can do them.
- I began using what I call a “2 step rule” for them. DL has to stop after their first 2 steps. LBs/secondary can get a read and work a play, but they have to let up 2 steps before contact on a blocker or ball carrier. Yes, our DL is supposed to let our O win after their first 2 steps. My OL is getting all of our blocking work in Indy. When we were going longer, yes it was a little more competitive, but we had guys getting hurt and rolling up on each other. The 2 step rule worked much better. OL can see their blocks and make that initial contact, I can check and make sure they are doing the right steps, have right head, and hand placement, and that we stay safe. By letting the LBs/secondary get a read and flow to the ball, we get to still practice finding/blocking guys in space, but we avoid big collisions in the open field. We started doing way less contact in practice in 2014 and guess what? We had way fewer injuries than ever before. In 2015, we did even less contact, and we had a great healthy season. Football is a violent game, there is no need to add violent practices to it and expose your kids to more contact.
How do you work with in-game adjustments?
I use Skycoach for instant replay. We try to keep OL and DL separate as much as possible at my school. Most of our skills go both ways. After every possession, all offensive players not currently in on defense will meet me on the sideline, and we review the previous series on a 42” TV. More often than making adjustments to plays, I fix mistakes in our blocking, which opens up our base plays again. More often than not the answer is not to run the mythical “best play” but to fix what you are doing wrong in your base stuff.
How many is on your coaching staff?
I read an article about the Houston Texans and how they work on the gameplan. They said it was a collaborative process – how do you run it in your program? Is it also a collaborative process for your team?
It is always somewhat collaborative. I am stubborn, we are going to do what we do. I am running our core plays no matter what. After watching the film, I come up with a list of what things I like the most, what I want to add, what i want to focus on. We meet as a staff every Sunday night. The assistant coaches will hear me out, add their input, and we leave Sunday night with a group decision on what does or doesn’t need to be added. More often than not it is not adding new things, but using things we already do more often, or in different ways.
Which tools and process do you use when preparing for an opponent?
I just watch a ton of film. If we played them the previous year, I rewatch that a few times too, to get an idea of what they might want to do. Personnel trumps scheme for me. It is just common sense to attack their worst defenders and stay away from their best guys. If they have a dominant player on defense I will come up with a few plans of how we can block him.
What’s your process for post-game follow-up?
On Saturday morning, i begin watching our last night’s film. I tag all of the data into Hudl. I enter stats on MaxPreps. I run an HUDL report on our plays to see how each play worked. I watch the game film to grade players and add notes for corrections, or to highlight good plays/technique.
Young players today are they different from 10 years ago?
Yes, they are smarter and more informed. We barely watched film when I was in HS. Now kids can watch it on their phones 24/7. Learning has extended beyond practice with technology.
How do you maximize their learning and engage them?
Technology allows you to connect with them anytime day or night
What’s your process of getting players into the playbook?
We install our playbook on the field and review it in the classroom. Kids learn better with a more hands on approach. I used to make paper playbooks, they end up tossed on the ground, and many kids struggle to learn to stare at a page.
What’s your morning routine?
I get up early and go to the gym every morning before I get to school. It is easiest to get my lift in before school. If I wait until later 1 million reasons to get lazy pop up. I also feel more alert when I work out early.
If you could only one play for an entire game- what would it be?
Stretch. Not that it is my favorite play, but it can literally hit anywhere, so it would be the toughest to defend, for an entire game.
How do you envision football will change over the next 5-10 years? Any difference in HS/college/NFL?
RPO’s (Run Pass Option) will continue to be the rage for a couple more years. Then the NFL, NCAA, and NFHS will step in and make more strict rules regarding OL down the field, which will put an end to runs packaged with downfield passes. Everyone will go back to screen game attached to runs since those will be caught behind the LOS. More and more rules will be added to protect player safety. We will see more frequent ejections at all levels for “unsafe” hits/tackles.
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