So how do you get your kids back on track after the big emotionally draining loss? The coaching staff takes the blame for the loss and we start the week with some fun. At the start of practice, as always I took the blame for any loss and asked everyone to point at who was to blame. All fingers pointed at me, as they should. Before I did that, I showed the kids how close we actually were to winning that game. We were close, but to get over the top was going to require some serious but doable work.
After a very physical Saturday evening game we went without pads on the first day of practice that week. We did some things the kids love doing, competitions and games. That meant lots of tire flipping relays, pass catching relays, firemans carry relays and Hawaiian Rules football. I wanted to see smiles and a passion for the game of football on our kids faces. While we had lost to a youth football team that we were overmatched against, I was proud of our kids heart and willingness to play hard and with poise until the final gun. After a crushing loss, it’s important for the kids to understand that the game of football is designed for them to have fun.
There would be plenty of time to get back on track for a playoff bid. This weeks game would be against a bad two win team. We would get a bye week the following week, then we would play a team that would probably be 5-3 for a chance to get into the playoffs. This was a great schedule. We had three weeks to get ready for the big game, because I felt very confident in the matchup against the two win team. They were a Power I team without a lot of open space athleticism, a perfect matchup after the big loss.
After watching the film, there was a lot to be happy about and even more to be disappointed with. As a coaching staff our position coaches had done a pretty poor job coaching our kids up. Our Linebackers weren’t stepping correctly, taking correct angles, fitting properly or tackling well. Our Monster- the “vacuum cleaner” in this defense didn’t make a tackle until the fourth quarter. Our Defensive Backs were standing flat footed instead of taking their three quick buss steps to start, tackled poorly and weren’t playing aggressive. Our Defensive Tackles didn’t get a consistent hand on the second level blockers and didn’t squeeze down hard enough when their keys said they should. Our Defensive Ends/Outside Linebackers had great opportunities to make tackles, but whiffed. On offense we played pretty well minus the two miscues on the hard count and some open field blocking whiffs.
As a team we aligned well on defense, but we weren’t executing our base fundamentals, reads and scheme responsibilities. Part of this was coaching, our position coaches were obviously watching the game rather than coaching it. Another part was just simulating that speed and athleticism in practice. In practice we got to the bubble and smoke screens, in games with the talent we were facing, we didn’t. Same for the Veer option and even the toss sweep, we were overcompensating for our lack of speed by overrunning plays and giving up the cutback lanes. We had a tough time simulating that athleticism in practice.
That would have to get solved this week. Part of coaching youth football well is coaching your coaches. I would have a heart to heart with the coaching staff and make sure to spend time with each coach and every position group this week instead of devoting most of my time to the line groups. We were 4-2 now and weren’t as far off as some might have thought. Had we scored when we were on the 3 and not given the ball away on their 10, we are at 40 points. We get a stop and generate another take away and we win the game.
But as always it would come down to perfecting and executing our fundamentals. If we got a chance to play Reed again, things would be different. Our approach overestimated our ability to play the edges and get to their bubble and smoke screens. We overplayed their Jet motion series and we would have to gamble a bit on a couple of personnel changes. We would start preparing for that game now with some position changes and a total immersion on getting better in space and on the defensive side of the ball.