I have been an accredited member of the coaches association for over 4 years now, and have coached the Bolton Bulldogs (youth) in the capacity of Defensive backs coach my first year, and as defensive coordinator since.
With the senior and youth leagues running from around April to August, it fits nicely into the void created by the NFL off season. The university league runs September to March, and last September the Manchester Metropolitan University(MMU) asked my head coach to help put the program into place. I am glad to say, he asked me to head up the defense for MMU.
The defense I have ran for 3 years is the 3-5-3 defense, the reason why I prefer this “high school defense”, is purely down to the physical make up of our guys. For both youth and university, we tend to have guys who are built for either soccer or rugby, and as most of you will know the 3-5-3 allows us to put speed on the field over bulk! Having three smaller down linemen suits with what we have, but the key position is the outside linebacker, “dogs,” needing to be a hybrid safety role and able to run fast, tackle and cover. Having used the familiar 3-4 and 4-3, the versatility of the 3-5-3 is what switched me on. We can evolve to a 4 man line by dropping an inside linebacker into a three point stance and even a five man line for short yardage situations, all this without taking a player off for situational substitutions. We run the pistol wing T offense, with our head coach being one of the best at coaching the Wing T here in the UK. The one thing I have learned is you can never know enough! And I have had help from coaches both here and over in the USA, helping me via email, implementing and always improving my coaching ability.
To join the university league you have to complete an affiliate season, completing a few games which will allow you full entry the following year. With training starting in November we needed to get them fit as well as implementing the basic fundamentals needed to play American Football. We had over 100 players sign up for rookie day, (we are getting to a stage where youth players are starting to pick their university, based in part to the American Football program based there). As usual with our “minority sport”, the drop off in numbers was significant and we soon got down to a respectable 32 players, about 8 players with previous experience of some sort (youth, junior varsity etc). We struggled without kit but kept on pushing them both physically and mentally while still drilling fundamentals and installing both the offense and defense as much as possible.
The kit arrived 4 weeks ago… now we could get into some real football !! In this time our first affiliate game was arranged for Saturday 19th February, (yes I know Saturday just gone), our first ever game was in the snow against the Bradford Bears, another new team but they have had three affiliate games, so they had some game experience!!
MMU Mercenaries 0 – Bradford Bears 2 (no we did not play soccer!)
The Bears two points came when we snapped the ball over the punters head and the ball went out the back of the endzone. The game was an interesting affair! With our defense holding two 4th down and one yard goal line stands, and our offense fumbling in the red zone, and dropping a late wide open pass after the wide receiver had got behind the entire defense! Our biggest problem… the dreaded yellow flag ,with so many rookie players the mistakes were bound to happen and it “hopefully” helped the learning curve.
So there you have it! Football UK style, I will be reporting weekly training sessions, explaining more about the defense we run, and game day match reports for the rest of the University season and then youth season.
Thanks for reading this far, if you have an interest in the BAFA please see links below.