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AFM Subscribers Ask...with Hal Mumme

by: Hal Mumme
Head Football Coach, Southeastern Louisi
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Changing the fortunes at colleges has been a way of life for New Mexico State’s Hal Mumme. The Texas native has turned around the programs at four colleges – Iowa Wesleyan, Valdosta State, Kentucky and Southeastern Louisiana – and is now attempting to do the same at New Mexico State. Considered a mastermind of the Air Raid offense, Mumme’s teams have ranked among the top programs in both passing and total offense. Now in his third year with the Aggies, he answers your questions...

Q. With your spread offense, what defenses give you the most trouble against your short passing game? Steve Warren, North High School, Bakersfield, CA. AFM subscriber since 2005.
I don’t think there’s one front that’s harder than another one – like the 4-3 or 3-4... what happens to us and what gives us the most problems is when our front five can’t block their front four. Or, if our five can’t block their three and we’re just out-manned. Then they can put pressure on our quarterback and don’t have to worry about blitzing. In terms of secondary coverage we see just about everything there is and practice against all coverages. The real key is though if we can’t block you up front, we’re going to have a long night. But if we can block the defensive line, we really don’t care what the coverage is because we can adjust our routes which we do every week.

Q. In your blocking schemes in passing situations, what rules do the linemen and backs follow when a blitz and/or a stunt comes from the defense? Frank Stubbs, Assistant Coach, Notre Dame High School, Utica, NY. AFM subscriber since 2004.
We’ll do both with our backs and ‘hot’ a guy and we’ll also block him up. Our backs will work with our linemen on a constant basis in picking up fronts. Our linemen do a good job of picking up coverages and I think that’s something most coaches don’t teach. It clues them in on what’s getting ready to happen. But the backs and linemen have to work together. We’ll try to get a good mix of backs releasing and backs blocking against those looks. That way the defense can’t really say ‘if they do this blocking-wise, then this play will automatically follow.’

Q. What are your favorite routes for all receivers when facing a third and long against a standard four man front, Cover 2 defense? Mark Van Buren, Riverside High School, Belle, WV. AFM subscriber since 2007.
One of the best things we do is what we call the ‘Sail Route.’ When you play a split coverage team – that is, two or four man coverage – it’s a good thing to do. By doing this, you get a guy vertical, you get a guy towards the sidelines 15 yards down the field and you also get a short guy you can dump it off to. We follow that up with a curl or a dig in the middle of the field which gives us an alternate option.

If I had to pick one play in that situation, it would be our ‘Sail’ play. You get in that situation where it’s third down and forever, you have a chance to pick it up. But, if you don’t or can’t do it, at least you can drop the ball off and have a positive play. The defense is not screaming ‘we got ‘em’ in this case because you’ve gotten some positive yardage. We’ll run this play and coach the quarterback not to just think about this play but the whole game; we try to make sure he doesn’t throw into double coverage. I like that play because you get stretch on the defense and it’s very difficult to cover all the receivers.

Q. With your aerial offense, what do you look for on tape when you scout your opponent for next week’s game? Are there alignments and/or tendencies on specific down and distance situations that help influence your overall game plan? Jon Konrad, Assistant Coach, Sacred Heart High School, Yonkers, NY. AFM subscriber since 2006.
We don’t spend as much time with film as other programs because, generally speaking, what we see on film is not necessarily what we’ll see on Saturday. What we do is try to pay more attention to personnel where we can have match-ups. We have a great flanker in Chris Williams and if we know he’s going to be single covered we have a good chance of throwing him a touchdown pass. If we know they’re going to double cover him, then we know we can go to someone else with single coverage.

Now our running backs coach and line coach spend a lot of time looking at their D-Line as to if and when they blitz linebackers so we can provide protection. We played Auburn a few weeks ago and their All-American Defensive lineman Quentin Groves never got a sack on us. That’s a good example of our offensive guys taking care of one D-Lineman who is dominant. It’s really more of a match-up situation in which we can get an advantage.

Q. How effective for you is the one-back set? Is it more effective against a specific defense? Carl Bogad, Assistant Coach, Trinity Christian Academy, San Antonio, TX. AFM subscriber since 2006.
We’re pretty well distributed between two backs, one back and zero backs. We try to be like that in every game but you look at what the defense does and the match-ups. There are certain games where you want more of a two-back offense and in others more of a one-back offense. What dictates it to a larger degree is the talent level of our receivers. We’ve been unfortunate because many of them have been injured. If you have three good receivers and a good tight end, I think the one-back system is a great set. If you have a tight end that can catch the ball as well as block, a back that can go and three pretty good wide receivers, it’s pretty difficult for people to cover trips. Every one’s got a plan for it but they hate doing it. If I can get that combination on the field, we’ll probably have a lot of success with it – running and passing.

Next Month: In his first three years as head coach at Grand Valley State, Chuck Martin has led the Lakers to two Division II National Championships.

Going into the 2007 season, Martin’s three year record was 38-3 with a 10-1 mark in playoff contests. The Lakers began this season, as well, with a 28 game winning streak. GVSU's Defensive Coordinator before becoming head coach prior to the 2004 season, Coach Martin answers your questions in our January issue. Go to or send your question to AFM’s Managing Editor Rex Lardner at


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