Helfrich Should Stick to the Script

Spring Game 2013 KC 075

Kevin Cline Photography

New Ducks’ Head Coach Mark Helfrich

Sometimes flexibility is bad.  Sure, it would be handy if I could tie my shoes without my hamstrings stretching like Gumby in the hands of an angry four year old.  But when you’re calling offensive plays, a coach can be too flexible.

Recently, I’ve thought a lot about what it means to be “cute.”  Not Kate Upton petting a baby kitten that’s wearing a party hat while snuggling with a koala that just survived a fire “cute.”  I mean football cute, that label every school and coaching staff tries to avoid.  Well, to me, cute football is when a team changes their gameplan to “adjust” to an opponent.  Here’s where the flexibility thing comes in.

Let’s imagine you’re a brand new football coach in his first season facing your first tough opponent.  Now imagine you have an arsenal of weapons that would humble Iron Man.  You have spent a week preparing a game plan that calls for a power-centered inside zone read base.  What might you, the new coach, be tempted to do if the play gets crushed at the mesh the first three times you run it?  You could get “flexible” and start airing it out, but what about your week’s worth of preparation?  What about not letting the defense dictate the flow of the game?  What about not getting too cute?

I’m not saying in-game adjustments are bad.  Those that the Ducks have pulled at the half, particularly on defense, have been incredibly effective.  I’m just saying that a heavily scripted first half will force the Duck offense to dictate its plan to the defense and leave the players on the field responsible for the execution.  It would also help coaches Mark Helfrich and Scott Frost get a feel for their new coaching positions.

Adjustments have their time and place, but often proper execution with no excuses is better, and that is exactly what the script can do.

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