Midseason Offensive Changes…

Midseason Offensive Changes

2017-10-10 remember-the-titans


“Every Coach has certain tendencies…” 

“All of them except Ed Henry.” 

“The only time we’d be seeing Ed Henry is at the state championship.” 

You may remember those lines from the movie “Remember the Titans.”  Those words were true then and even truer now.  Other coaches are studying your tendencies. At this point of the season, opponents have multiple games and scouts on you and your team and will have strong tendency data on Play by Formation, Play by Down & Distance, Play by Personnel and Play by Field Position and may have discovered vulnerabilities in your reaction to certain circumstances.

How do we counter such a data advantage?

We counter our opponent’s expectations by “scripting out of tendency.”

Do a self-scout of your offense to see what you are calling in those situations and create a 10-15 play “out of tendency” script. For example, if you have a strong tendency to pass in your 3×1 open set, script a run.  If you have a strong run tendency in a down & distance situation, script a play action pass the first time you are in that situation.

The other change you may wish to consider is a change of your signals, if you are a No Huddle team.  Coaches may be able to see you signaling from the sideline on video.  They most likely have also live scouted you giving signals and may even have videotaped you giving the signal then the play that follows.  You also may be preparing for playoffs and very likely may be playing a team for a second time.

To hear more about scripting out of tendency, no huddle signals and other topics that pertain to preparing for gameday, you can listen to USA Football’s Coach and Coordinator Podcast hosted by Keith Grabowski by clicking  GAMEDAY PREP or the clipboard below.

Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss team building, coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at richalercio@gmail.com and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for your time!”

2017-07-11 check list
Click the Clipboard!


Follow up to Coach To Cure Muscular Dystrophy

Coach To Cure MD Follow Up Post

Last week I shared our efforts to support the 10th Anniversary of Coach to Cure Muscular2017-09-29 Coach to Cure MD Logo Dystrophy. I’m happy to report the program was successful both nationally and locally. It was great to see coaches on our sidelines sporting the Coach to Cure MD patches on their shirts, and equally exciting to see Division I coaches on TV wearing the same patches and supporting the same cause. Organizations at all levels raised funds and awareness, and I’m proud of our team’s efforts both on and off the field to support such a worthy program.

I’d like to share an editorial by Mr. Todd M. Smith, from this week’s Caledonian Record, and thank Mr. Smith for the sentiments he expresses. In many ways, he captures the essence of exactly what we as a team and members of the community were trying to accomplish. The Oct 3rd Editorial is pasted below and can be read in its original form on the Caledonian Record Website here: Mutual Admiration Society

Editorial: Mutual Admiration Society

Oct 3, 2017

The Caledonian Record

On Saturday the St. Johnsbury Academy football team roared back from a size-able deficit to beat previously unbeaten BFA/St. Albans. With the win, the mighty Hilltoppers remain perfect on the year.

We enjoyed reading Coach Rich Alercio’s comments on the game. He credited the hard-fought victory to conditioning and the hard work his kids put in long before the season started. “All the offseason work, in the summer and the spring, the lifting sessions; when it came down to it, BFA was bigger and stronger, but they didn’t hold up as well as we did,” Alercio said. “Our kids are so well conditioned. The work they put in during the summer, prepared them for a finish like that.”

 Being it our experience that hard work is the bedrock of all success, we appreciated Coach Alercio’s behest to players – “Never let anybody outwork you and never let anybody outlast you.”

 Good stuff.

 But there was something we liked even better about Saturday’s indefatigable effort from the Hilltoppers.

The young combatants were led into battle by another warrior – 14-year-old Thomas Chesbrough.

The wheelchair-bound Waterford resident was named honorary team captain as part of the nationwide Coach To Cure Muscular Dystrophy (MD) day. Chesbrough, who was born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, wore SJA jersey number 75, participated in the pregame coin flip, then cheered the boys on as they rallied from a 28-14 deficit to a 36-28 win to establish themselves as the undisputed number one team in Vermont. The Hilltoppers wore patches on their uniforms to mark the occasion.

We were moved and humbled to watch our strongest and most physically capable athletes taking inspiration from those whose daily health fights put gridiron struggles into perspective. Chesbrough said he’s a big-time fan of football players and we’re with him on that. But we’re now big fans of Chesbrough, and we bet the entire SJA football community is with us on that.

I’d like to thank Mr. Smith for his editorial and express my sincere thanks for Thomas Chesbrough’s inspiring example. I’m proud of the team’s accomplishments, and prouder still of the players request to invite Thomas to continue in his role as honorary captain and join us on the field for the remainder of the season.

You can still get involved in the Parent Project for Muscular Dystrophy  http://www.parentprojectmd.org/

Coach To Cure Muscular Dystrophy

Coach to Cure MD

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Coach To Cure MD.  Coach To Cure MD is a2017-09-29 Coach to Cure MD Logo partnership between the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD).  The AFCA was drawn to this cause because of the unique parallels between Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a disorder which robs young men of precious muscle strength, and football, a game where young men are at the peak of their muscular strength.

On Saturday, September 30, coaches nationwide will take the field wearing Coach To Cure MD patches on their sleeve to raise awareness of the disorder and raise money to fund research to discover a cure.

As coaches, we talk about winning the battles on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons, but our battles pale in comparison to those fought every day by the young men afflicted with this disorder and their families.  We teach our players to fight through adversity, deal with setbacks, and overcome obstacles to help prepare them for life. We hold our upperclassmen accountable to set a good example through the trials and tribulations they encounter on and off the football field.

In the vast majority of cases, the challenges and adversity our players endure pale in comparison to the monumental task of confronting Muscular Dystrophy. Those who do fight it, and the parents and families of those children, often set the most extraordinary example of courage and commitment in the face of such a daunting opponent.

In their honor, and with the utmost hope and prayer those families are granted relief and a cure, I’ll be wearing my patch, and contributing to “Coach to Cure MD,” this weekend and encourage you to do the same.

You can visit http://www.parentprojectmd.org/ to become more involved or click on the clipboard below to donate directly!

2017-09-29 Coach to Cure MD Clipboard

Why Go For 1 When You Can Get 2?

A quick update to say thanks for the notes and calls following Saturday’s 30-8 win against the Essex Hornets. 2-0 is a great start to the season and I’m proud of our players, coaches, and the students, parents, and faculty who braved the rain to cheer us on to victory in our home opener.

I’ve been fortunate to develop some great partnerships during my career, and the relationship with USA Football is one of the best. You may recall I traveled to Phoenix earlier this summer to record several coaching videos and we discussed them in blog posts last month.

USA Football just published an article I wrote about going for 2 on Points After Touchdown (PAT). I mentioned last week our student athletes have cultivated the confidence in themselves and each other necessary to consistently succeed when going for 2. We proved it in week one and again on Saturday against Essex. Take some time to consider your options and create opportunities to distance your team from your opponent.

You can read the article here: Why Go For 1, When you Can Get 2?

2017-09-10 Go for 2

Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss team building, coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at richalercio@gmail.com and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for your time!

Hard Work Pays Off

Now that training camp and game #1 are behind us, I have some time to get back to the blog.  Thankfully this summer’s preparation was time well spent.  I’m proud of the way our student athletes made individual and collective contributions to the team both on and off the field. We focused on the fundamentals, practiced hard, and closed pre-season physically and mentally ready. We opened our season on the road against the team that beat us in the 2016, Vermont Division I State Championship and came away with a 22-19 win.  Tough opener but it did provide great motivation and a point of focus for our players through summer OTAs and Training Camp.

Going for 2 was the difference in this year’s game.  We converted 2-of-3, 2-point conversions and they made only 1 extra point.  In some programs, it wouldn’t be uncommon to see a coach take credit for what some would consider a “gutsy call.” On the contrary, those calls were based on our players’ hard earned confidence in themselves and belief in each other as teammates.

(Photo by Paul Hayes)

After the game, several reporters approached me to request interviews with our quarterback, who had over 100 yards rushing, 100 yards passing, two touchdowns, and two 2-point conversions, and our running back who had over 100 yards rushing and a touchdown.  After setting up the interviews, one of my senior offensive linemen who had a stellar game both offensively and defensively with 3 pancake blocks, a sack, a tackle for a loss and a blocked extra point, came up to me and said that they are interviewing the wrong guys.  He was so right.  Football is a game of interdependence. Teams, families, companies all find themselves depending on one another. Inevitably some get credit, some get blame, and in time history settles on its version of what actually happened.

Though the local paper may recount the story through a reporter’s lens, we’ll grade the game film recognizing both the things we did well and the things we can do better. Each player will know how he contributed, and it is my sincere hope each will find ways to recognize those who played to their potential regardless of the media’s perspective. But in the end, each has to reconcile with their own conscience earning and affirming self respect and satisfaction born of knowing they selflessly gave their very best.

With that in mind, I share a great article featured at footballscoop.com that my assistant head of school forwarded to me entitled “The 6 most important life lessons you learn by playing offensive line.”


Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss team building, coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at richalercio@gmail.com and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for your time!

Let’s Talk X’s & O’s: Run Pass Option

How the Run Pass Option (RPO) puts defenders on the horns of a dilemma!

The last of the four courses I recorded at the Arizona Cardinal’s Training Center for USA Football is entitled Run Pass Option (RPO).  We begin by recognizing that football is a cyclical game.  The “new” shoulder tackling we are now teaching is the same technique players used while wearing leather helmets.  The “new” RPO is the old option football.  The basis of the offense is to put a defending player in conflict. The conflict is ideally a confounding choice where either decision creates a  defensive vulnerability, and in a perfect world the defender’s dilemma results in confusion and indecision leaving your quarterback to decide between the best of 2 good alternatives.


The RPO is also not a new concept.  Teams have been giving the quarterback a Run or Pass Option in a pre-snap read at the line of scrimmage for more than 25 years with the Run or Bubble Screen Option.  Today’s RPO has evolved into a Post-Snap option and incorporates a downfield pass.  Both “old” and “new” lead to a number of concerns we address for the longevity of RPOs in football.

The Old RPO

2017-08-09 RPO 1

RPO Concerns:

  1. QB Post-Snap option read is expensive
  2. Illegal man downfield can almost always be called
  3. To avoid illegal man downfield or to allow for protection, the run blocking scheme must be altered
  4. If not altered, it is not a good pass protection screen, especially against the blitz
  5. Man coverage does not allow for a conflict player. You cannot throw and there is an unblocked player in the box

Today’s RPO

2017-08-09 RPO 2

The suggestion of using a Pin & Pull scheme to one side with the pass option to the other side is a recommendation to answer he aforementioned concerns:

Solving the Concerns:

  1. The Pin & Pull exchange is a lateral shuffle that allows for more time to read
  2. The pullers will not cross the line of scrimmage before 2 seconds.
  3. The scheme does not need to be altered for protection or illegal man downfield
  4. It is not a good pass protection scheme but it is better due to the change of launch point with the lateral shuffle exchange.
  5. Man coverage does not effect since it is an outside run away from the Pass side.

Pin & Pull RPO

2017-08-09 RPO 3

A next step in the evolution of RPOs is suggested with a QB Pin & Pull to the same side as the pass option with the similar solutions to the concerns:

The Next Step:

  1. Allowing the QB to be on the run provides ample time to decide to run or pass
  2. Ball is thrown long before pullers go downfield
  3. No change of scheme
  4. Great pass protection as it works as a Sprint Out protection.
  5. Man coverage is not an issue as it only makes the read easier to keep and the extra player is accounted for by pullers and the Running Back.

QB Pin & Pull RPO

2017-08-09 RPO 4

We conclude with offering another option…SPO or Screen Pass Option.  It is the philosophically the same but the conflict player is in a coverage conflict with a pass on one side or a RB screen on the other.

Screen Pass Option (SPO)

2017-08-09 RPO 5

I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing a little more about my trip to Arizona and the chance to help other coaches through USA Football’s Coaches Academy. Summer OTAs continue and while August summer days are hot, the cool nights here in Vermont remind us the Fall football season is only short few weeks away. I hope many of the topics we’ve covered since last January have been helpful and i look forward to continuing the conversation through the Fall. Best wishes to you and yours in the upcoming season!

Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss summer OTAs, coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at richalercio@gmail.com and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for your time!

Know Your Team & Know Yourself!

Post Game Evaluation & Next Week

Continuing the conversation on my trip to Phoenix… We’ve been discussing the programs I recorded for USA Football at the Arizona Cardinal’s Training Center.

The third course produced is entitled Post Game Evaluation & Next Week.  We begin with a Sun Tzu quote, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”  What Sun Tzu did not consider over 2,000 years ago was knowing the enemy but not yourself.

The first step covered in video analysis is grading players.  We discuss grading players under four criteria on each play: Alignment, Assignment, Effort and Execution.  Each criteria is valued at a quarter of a point to determine a grade.  2017-08-02 Grading CriteriaDuring the grading process, we recognize the importance of providing positive reinforcement for desired outcomes through awards and recognition for individuals and position groups.


Then we focused on self-scouting…understanding yourself.  We discuss breaking down offensive Run, Pass and Screen tendencies by Formation, Down & Distance, Field Position, Field/Boundary, Right/Left and Personnel.  We then shares ways to set up and break those tendencies in the next week’s game plan.

The conversation continues with determining mean, median and mode 2017-08-02 Statistical Analysisaverages and efficiency percentages for run plays to determine when, where and if they should be included in next week’s game plan.  We do the same for pass plays based on efficiency percentage, completion percentage, yards per completion and yards per attempt.

Next up we discuss analyzing game data to determine how much practice time should be dedicated to each play and situation.  You need to spend more practice time on the play you call 12 times per game than the one called only twice.  focus on success magnifying glassWe then analyzed game data to determine how much practice time should be committed to the following situations:  Redzone, Goalline, Coming Out, 2-Minute, 4-Minute, On Schedule, 3rd Downs, 2nd & Short, 2nd and Long and 4th Down.

We conclude the conversation with suggestions for adjustments needed due to injury and depth issues and the progression of offense during the season.  Advice is given on keeping your installation simple during training camp then building on as you get into the season.  Focus on technical before tactical.

Given all the technical specifics, don’t overlook the importance of confidence, focus, and understanding derived from such an effort. Help your players understand the “why” behind all this work, and it will reinforce confidence in their teammates, coaches, and most importantly themselves. Napoleon is quoted as saying “The moral is to the physical, as three is to one…” Do the work, underpin success, and build belief in your program!

Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss summer OTAs, coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at richalercio@gmail.com and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for your time!