Week Three: Stamford Bulldogs

After two practices at Stamford, some general impressions of the program:

The practice organization at Stamford is impressive; with the freshmen and JV to alternating between working on their stuff and running scout for the varsity. Transitions are very quick. Coach Hutchinson’s staff has been together for years and they basically use the same practice formula every week. The only change is the scout information they plug in each week. With only seven coaches this coordination is very good, and you rarely see anybody standing around. Coach Hutchinson reminds the team regularly that the pace they keep during their practices also acts as the conditioning and the kids move quickly.

I really like the no-huddle system Stamford uses. The system gives the bulldogs several advantages over huddling teams.

1)      More efficient; More reps in shorter time.

2)      No time wasted getting in and out of huddle. (Coaches like that they don’t have to deal with huddle protocol.)

3)      Playcalling must be streamlined to allow calls to be made on the line.

4)      Defense often can’t substitute.

5)      Allows offense to dictate the pace.

Stamford has been running the spread offense for the past four years. Implementing a new offense is the most significant change a program can make short of replacing a coach. It’s not simply about drawing up new plays and running them. Blocking schemes, position drills, terminology, adjustments vs. different defenses, ways to best use personnel and a million other little tweaks all must be learned, over years, usually through trial and error. Everything needs to fit into a coherent framework, with plays and adjustments for every possible defensive strategy built in or the scheme will eventually collapse as defenses learn how to stop an offense.  I’ve wondered how so many teams, so quickly have been able to adopt the spread as it has come into prominence the past ten years. Yesterday I learned at least part of the answer.

Tony Franklin, current offensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech markets a package of everything a coach would need to install the spread. Clinics, teaching progressions and a whole binder full of DVD’s is included, letting a coach learn this offense in a relatively short time. Stamford took to this system when they looked down their pipeline and saw the kids coming up would be a good fit for this scheme. It seems they made a good choice as the Bulldogs advanced to the State Championship in 2011 and are expected to make another run at the title this year.

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