The Razorbacks are on another bye week and I decided to do some book research in Spain. When I was looking for a team to coach, quarterback Blair Black contacted me about his team in Serbia. I decided Germany was a better fit, but we stayed in touch. Blair later moved to the Osos Rivas outside of Madrid. I thought he had an interesting story and decided to make the trip to meet him and see his team play.
Blair DOES have an interesting story (I’m saving for the book), but a few weeks ago, the trip itself took an unexpected twist. The Osos defensive coordinator would be working the day of their game against the London Blitz. Head coach Fernando Guijarro asked me if I would call the defense.
Euro football is full of situations you would never find in the States and I just stumbled upon one. As a new sport in Europe, and a sport requiring many coaches with specialized knowledge, few programs have the luxury of full staffs. Programs are glad for help wherever they can find it.
During Friday’s pre-game practice I took a crash course of the Osos defensive scheme and signals with DC Ricardo Martin. It’s impossible to truly prepare for a game with a brand new team in one day and with no scout of the opponent, but what a great opportunity to do something unique.
I spend most of the pre-game warm-ups watching the Blitz and what I see worries me. The Osos look like most European teams; a bunch of tough, but average guys in their early 20s to early 40s with a sprinkling of some very good athletes. The Blitz however, look like something else. Most are in their early 20s and they are very well conditioned. The staff is well organized and deep, with position coaches running specific pre-game drills. This team clearly isn’t scrambling to find players, coaches or support personnel as most in Europe must.
The Blitz takes a quick 14-0 lead in the first 5 minutes of play. Our defense stiffens and plays decently during the rest of the half, holding the London team to just one score, but in the second half the wheels fall off. London is bigger and deeper than the Osos and executes a well-coached game plan for a team who knows they have superior strength. The Blitz defense attacks and pressures Osos QB Blair Black, never allowing the Madrid offense to develop any rhythm. The strong Blitz run game grinds on the smaller Osos, forcing the defense to over commit, opening up cutbacks and play action passes. The Blitz coast to a 55-0 victory.
Coach Guijarro was very upset by the result. This mindset will help the Osos continue to improve. Today, the Osos ran into a better program, but I’m sure the experience will make them stronger in the future. Football is the most complicated sport invented by man and getting to the top in a place where many don’t start until later in life will take years. But, it’s great to see teams making that struggle. Thank you Blair Black, head coach Fernando Guijarro, defensive coordinator Ricardo Martin and all of the Osos Rivas football team for allowing me to work with you. It was a great experience and I will be following your successes in the future.
Time to get back to work for the Razorbacks!