Many schools are finishing up their spring practice with a game against another opponent. Usually these are schools they do not play in the regular season, but feel like they can play competitively. If one of those schools is an early opponent of yours, it would be beneficial for you and your staff to go and scout that game.
Here are some thoughts on scouting a spring football contest.
1) Try and get as many of your staff to go and attend the game. This is a great way to get new staff members some time with the others members of the coaching staff. If possible, make plans for a meal and make the whole night a social event for your staff. As everyone knows, coaches always love a free meal. 2) Make sure to take pens, pads, audio recorders or what ever you may need to use for scouting. Talk to your staff ahead of time about what their responsibilities will be at the game.
3) Find our in advance what the schedule is for the game. How many teams are involved? Are they playing an entire competitive game, or are the 2nd or 3rd teams going to play the fourth quarter? Is the JV team playing before or after the varsity contest? The best way to find out this information is to either contact a coach you know on one of the staffs or call the school where the game is being played and ask the school secretary. School secretaries seem to know everything. 4) If you played them last year, go back and look at a few minutes of your game or some of their other contests before you go. If you did not play them last year, obtain a little film on them. Knowing what to expect offensively and defensively allows you to compare them to last year’s team as well as look at changes they have made to their schemes.
5) Find their roster from last fall and see how many key players were lost. Was their offensive line mostly seniors? Knowing that means they will have a few new faces and that youth might make this an area of weakness. Assign one of your defensive coaches to watch the offensive linemen and find out who are the poorest or most inexperienced players. Your team will want to exploit that weakness when you make your game plan.
6) If they have rosters at the game make sure to get more than one copy. This will be valuable to you in August.
7) In addition to writing their plays and defensive looks, write down as many general observations as you can about their team. Do they appear to play with confidence? How do their coaches interact with the players? Where is their speed and how do they use it on offense? What looks to be their strengths and weaknesses? How accurate is their quarterback? Who do they try and get the ball to on offense? What appear to be the strengths and shortcomings of their linebackers? Does one of their defensive backs look lost at times and why? These little tidbits will help form your game plan for them in the summer.
8) If possible, secure a copy of the game film from their opponent. Many times, the two coaches make an agreement not to share the film, so that may not be possible. But it makes scouting the spring game all that more important.
9) Write or record everything down as soon after the game as possible. Give the other coaches a deadline to get their sheets or summaries in and ask for their overall thoughts and opinions. Run off copies of everything for everyone.
10) With the advent of Hudl, coaches have lost their skills of scouting live games, once a staple of high school football coaching. Prepare and get as much information as you possibly can. Getting off to a good start by winning that first game next fall could be a catalyst for a great or surprising season in 2021.