Sunday, December 4, 2016
Scoring on Defense
Every college football fan in the country knows that today, November 17, 2016, Alabama is #1 in the College Football Playoff rankings and Ohio State is #2. What the average fan might not know is that these two programs are also #1 and #2 in the country in defensive touchdowns scored, with Alabama scoring ten TDs on defense and Ohio State scoring six. Sure these programs have incredible athletes, but that’s not the only reason they are scoring on defense at a higher rate than the rest of the country. Urban Meyer, the Head Football Coach at Ohio State, attributes his team’s defensive scoring success to the fact that they place extreme emphasis on scoring on defense.2 I couldn’t agree more and in this blog I’ll discuss a couple of simple ways to emphasize scoring on defense.
Terminology is one way a program can place emphasis on scoring on defense. How, you ask. I’ll give you an example. When I played football the term we used to communicate an interception on the field was Bingo. Bingo meant nothing to me other than what I was supposed to yell when I intercepted a pass. Today, I teach use of the term Score when we intercept a pass. Score has meaning that a player can easily connect with. Not only does it tell the rest of the team you have the ball, so go block for you; it also tells you that now your job is to score a touchdown. Score is a term used throughout every drill in practice and we reinforce the term with phrases like “we’re never satisfied with just a take away, we must score,” or “the offense never practices tackling, so there is no way they should be able to tackle us.” An original catchphrase I like to use with players I coach goes like this, anytime I shout “the ball is in the air,” they must respond “it’s mine,” thus reinforcing emphasis on taking the ball from the offense.
Positive reinforcement is another way to place emphasis on scoring on defense. For example, Alabama has a belt, similar in appearance to a boxing champion belt, that comes to practice with and hangs in the locker of the player who is responsible for the most takeaways.1
Alabama and Ohio State sit atop the polls today largely due to their scoring defenses. Defensive coaches can and should place exceptional emphasis on scoring on defense and two easy ways to accomplish this are (1) through terminology and (2) through positive reinforcement.
1Lupoi, T. (2016, June). Alabama Defense. Speech presented at San Angelo Coaching Clinic, San Angelo.
2Seger, E. (2016). Inside The Process Ohio State Took To Make Returning Interceptions For Touchdowns Such A Frequent Act. Retrived from http://www.elevenwarriors.com/ohio-state-football/2016/11/76412/inside-the-process-ohio-state-took-to-make-returning-interceptions-for-touchdowns-such-a-frequent-act