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The Scouting Reportby: AFM Editorial Staff
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If two words describe Mira Mesa High School in San Diego they are tradition and excellence. One of the top academic schools in the city, the Mira Mesa Marauders also have an outstanding football legacy. Led by Head Coach Gary Blevins and Assistant HC Chris Thompson, Mira Mesa plays in the prestigious San Diego Eastern League. This fall they play Long Beach Poly in a non-league game. Poly, a perennial Southern California power, has the most alums of any school in the nation playing in the NFL.
Blevins has been at Mira Mesa for 27 years and as a head coach has a record of 83-46-3. Thompson, his OC and Quarterbacks Coach, is a Mira Mesa alum and has been on the Marauders staff for the past 17 seasons. We spoke with both coaches about the MMHS program and what they do weekly in preparing for their next opponent.
1. What is your overall process in analyzing an opponents’ game tape?
The first step is to put the videos into our system…we then break the video up by fundamental formations, coverages, and blitzes. We then identify the groupings. We also try to get a heartbeat on their team. While we take note on our opponent, we know – as coaches – that football is still an emotional game. Important to remember in our analysis is what the team does at crunch time such as what do they call on third down situations.
2. What do you look for in scouting an opponents’ offense?
First off, do they like to run or pass – favoring either one – or, are they balanced. We start there. Also, what formation do they favor, especially in critical situations. We also analyze the ‘play after.’ That is, plays after time-outs, turnovers, sacks, or incomplete passes. We look for the 8-10 calls a game where it’s a test for us. You have the question; can our team provide the answer in stopping them. Our team will then practice their formations during the week with our goal being to get to the ball as quickly as possible, especially in big play situations.
3. What about scouting the opposing quarterback? Do you look for something specific?
We look at his mannerisms as he breaks the huddle – does he look to a side or scan the field. We also study his basic mechanics – does he, for example, tap his helmet meaning a short slant may be the next play. We also study to see if he can make all the throws to the various routes. We chart when he hits his receivers and when he misses. We also examine pocket awareness and his body demeanor.
4. In scouting your opponent, how much is placed on situational tendencies?
With the resources we have, we definitely emphasis situational tendencies. All of our coaches have specific assignments such as charting punts – did they go left or right, directionally where did they land, were any blocked? We also chart first down situations knowing that they may change depending on the opponent. As an example, if we were playing the Air Force Academy, third and five is – most likely – a running play while third and one for Utah would be a passing down. We have to have flexibility in getting ready for our next opponent. Our goal for first down efficiency is limiting our opponent to less than four yards per play and, on offense, gaining four yards or more per play. But even with all the down and distance tendencies charted, we still want to get a sense of the ebb and flow of the game – the human element.
5. What are the keys you look for in scouting an opponents’ defense?
We start with what we call a global overview: fronts, coverages, do they blitz a lot and what kind of blitzes? What coverage goes with what blitz? To help our quarterbacks, I’ll download the various looks of our opponent and have them ready to look at on the field through my iPod. For this generation of student-athletes, it is definitely the video age and kids respond to it. We try to take advantage of all the resources we have.
6. How much attention do you place in zone vs. man-to-man coverage?
We do place a lot of attention on this…we examine Red Zone tendencies – do they use cover 2 or cover 3 or double sets? We use situational tendencies 100% of the time. As a rule we chart which side of the field the quarterback throws to and what kind of run/pass ratio our opponent uses.
7. Tell us the process of self-scouting? How important is it to you and your program?
In terms of self-scouting we need to know where we are at all times. Our editing system helps us with all of our recruiting demands. With our system, we can put together clips for a recruiter looking at one of our players and then give him exactly what he needs.
8. How do you critique a player after the self-scouting evaluation of his performance?
We do it at a team setting and break down the offense and defense. We emphasize our goals such as on offense keeping their defense on the field as long as we can. But we also try to have our kids understand the game within the game. In preparing a defensive and offensive game plan, we talk about explosives; plays that are more than 12 yards rushing, 16 yards or more passing and big plays of 20 or more yards. We also talk about changes in field position and chart missed tackles. More importantly, what happened as a result of the missed tackles. We will also pull up, as an example, all the clips of our right tackle and what he did right and wrong and then review them.
9. What’s a typical week like in breaking down film, giving to the coaches, and preparing a game plan?
Friday: We have three digital cameras out ready to go into the computer…one is for our next game, one for the team two weeks out, and the third for a potential playoff opponent.
Saturday: We break down our game and critique it. We then give to the players printed reports of our next opponent. Also, we confirm tendencies of our opponent and examine Red Zone situations.
Sunday: As coaches we analyze and put together a game plan for next Friday.
Monday: We sit down with our kids and show them tape…we then begin to show them this week’s game plan believing in the ‘less is more’ theory.
Tuesday: As coaches we thoroughly look at our opponents situations and what they called in specific instances… we have 7-on-7 drills with our players and chart the various routes and formations.
Wednesday: We walk through the various coverages getting an idea of 4-5 basic formations. The coaches have cut-ups available to have our kids study offense and defense.
Thursday: We get our players ready to play for tomorrow night’s game…they’ll know the first play of our offense. We’ll also review the little things and view important items to remember.
10. Tell us about the digital system you use?
We use DSV. It’s a great product that is user friendly with new tools available all the time.
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