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Friday, October 07, 2005

Notes on Running With the Football

From a press Conference with Notre Dame Coach Charlie Weis:

[In response to a question on running back Darius Walker's running style]

But I can tell you what I used to tell [Patriot's receiver] Deion Branch after I had a big research study on (Marvin) Harrison a few years ago when Deion was a second year [in New England]. I noticed that Marvin, with all of his production, any time the hits were coming, he was going down. So after I thought about it for a while. I thought, this isn't the stupidest thing in the whole world to have your best guy, when he's about ready to get crunched, go ahead and make sure that doesn't happen.... there are times to take the hit and there are times not to take the hit.

The first important point is explicitly made: If you're talking about your best guy, there is logic to letting him go down or go out and bounds and avoid the big crunching hits. While we don't want to coach pansies, you also want to have the kid for the whole season. Injuries are a bigger threat to receivers than say offensive linemen because it is more difficult for them to play through injuries due to the nature of the position.

Second, which can be gleaned since his example was Marvin Harrison, most all production, at least a receiver's, is done before contact is made. This does not limit yards after the catch, but instead tells you that the focus is on running away from defenders rather than at them, either to run them over like Earl Campbell or try to individually juke every guy out, which is idiotic.

Instead, great receivers catch the ball, get upfield immediately, and try to score by splitting defenders. What do I mean by splitting defenders? Quite simply: run inbetween them. There are circumstances when you need to take the hit to the defender (sometimes on a slant all you can do is deliver the "forearm of doom" to the safety after the catch) but, usually, you score by running directly upfield right inbetween the corner and the safety for the long TD.

It's an often missed point. If you watch Sportscenter you will see that almost every short pass that goes for a TD involves a receiver bursting through a seam rather than trying to juke guy X, run through guy Y, spin off guy Z, and then finish by jumping over guy A. Notice I ran out of letters because doing this, even if successful, takes so long that the whole defense has time to show up. It happens occaisionally, but don't make it a habit.


Anonymous said...

I agree with what you are saying, but take a look at Walter Payton. I know he was a running back, but he played for thirteen years and rushed for 16,000 yards while refusing to go out of bounds. He always said he wanted to deliver the blow. I think it depends on the player.

Ted Seay said...

Payton was sui generis. How many players work as hard as he did to stay super-fit? If he had a secret to surviving all those years without injury, it was his commitment to physical excellence. Good luck getting Rickey Williams to do that...

I'm with Chris. Split defenders and take the yards they give you. You'll know when the situation calls for running over someone...

Chris said...

I don't complete disagree. Obviously if I have a big sturdy kid at RB and I run the belly with him I expect him to deliver contact and move the pile for yards.

Ted said it well. I'll just add that I (and Charlie Weis) made a bit of an apples and oranges comparison by talking about both running backs and wide receivers. Certainly receivers should be splitting defenders more. Again, even receivers who don't deliver blows spend too much time running at defenders and trying to dance with them rather than running by them.