Coach Lew Johnston (Photo: Sarah Murphy/recruit757)
Lew Johnston issues a warning
Taken from Lew Johnston’s blog “Coaching the little things”.
by Lew Johnston, a special contribution to recruit757
Some of you recall the origin of this axiom. In 1976, Jim Jones of the Peoples Temple religious group convinced his followers that it would be best for ALL of them to die together in their encampment in a South American jungle. Representatives from the U.S. government were flying in to get the people out. In a panic, Jones urged his group to drink poison rather than surrender. He mixed the poison with Kool-Aid… thus the axiom presented in my title!
How does all this apply to football coaches? I am attempting to caution you to be sure that “going along with what the group does” isn’t necessarily the best thing for you. Some might call it peer pressure. I recall getting in trouble at school in the 6th grade because a friend “dared” me to do something wrong. I got caught! They called my dad and I got the old “double whammy” when I got home — punished at school AND punished at home! I do recall my dad asking me sarcastically, “Would you jump off the top of the school building if you friend dared you to?”
So why are so many of you “drinking the Kool-Aid” of we GOTTA go to the Spread offense? Well, everybody else is doing it. I guess we should be doing it too! WHY?
Most of you know that I am an old school Delaware Wing T coach. I love to stay up on the latest trends in football, though. (Once a “Student of the Game;” always a “Student of the Game!”) I’m reading more and more of Wing T coaches who are looking to spread things out and here it comes: run RPO’s as a major focus in their offensive package! Wow!
I’ve been around football long enough to go back to the early days of the T formation. My Junior High coach still ran the old Single Wing in the early 60’s! Then (here it comes!) everybody caught the “Wishbone” bug! When Bear Bryant at Alabama went to it, that was it. Did you know that Bryant made Joe Namath run the Wishbone/Triple Option in college? Joe was a darn good runner; but, that’s where he started having knee problems! We all were trying to run some form of the triple option. But guess what? Defenses saw it so much that they started coming up with answers to it and slowly it faded away to guys running the I formation! THAT was the new “answer!”
People who break the mold and stick with an antique, broken down old jalopy of an offense actually have an advantage. Nobody sees it very often so nobody knows how to defense it!!! The most fun I had in the last decade of following Virginia Tech football was watching Bud Foster, DC at VT, go up against Paul Johnson’s Triple Option offense at Georgia Tech! Observing those two trying to out-wit each other was like watching two chess masters. So good! Guess who usually won? I hate to say it but GT!
If you’ve got a system, work with it! Build it up to where people fear you for running that offense. The same could be said for defense. We went to a Wing T coaches clinic at the U. of Delaware when Tubby Raymond was still the HC. He was on the over-head machine (that’s how long ago it was!) diagramming a Wing T play. He drew up a defense against it. It was a defense that guys in the audience were kinda scratching their heads on as they saw it. Then Tubby said something that’s always stuck with me. He started erasing the defense and said, “Sorry. I just automatically drew up OUR defense. Most of you don’t recognize it, do you?!” A lot of nods in the crowd. He continued, “That is the College 4-3… or as some call it, the old 6-1. We use it because NOBODY else uses it!” AH HA!!! Not only was Tubby a tremendous innovator on offense with his devastating Wing T package; but, he ran a NON-traditional defense too! He knew the value of being unique!
Try it. You’ll like it!!!
– Lew Johnston
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