The High School Football Analyst-Part 3 - Helping the Offensive Staff Scout and Game Plan

We have been discussing the role of a video analyst in high school football. Colleges have used analysts for several years, but the analyst role is fairly new to high school football. The job of the analyst is to get the staff as much information as he can in order to make their jobs as easy and less time consuming as possible. Let's take a look at how an analyst can aide the offensive football staff as they prepare each week to game plan the opponent's defense.



One of the first things the offensive coordinator might want to do is have a general conversation with the analyst about what games he has broken down and what his overall evaluation is of the defense. It is important to evaluate games where the opponent's defense was defending formations and plays very similar to what his offense runs. This gives the staff some good information about what kind of strategies the opponent might employ to stop such an offense. If your team is running a good bit of speed sweep series out of the gun, it would be very helpful to the staff to know how this week's defense defended the speed formations, the play itself, the counters and the passes off of the play. So finding video as much like your team as possible is critical.


Instead of the offensive coordinator having to watch all of the video himself and discover the answers to these issues, he can simply have a conversation with the analyst or look at the scouting report. He can then spend his time on solutions to their strategies immediately, saving him many hours in the process. As he watches film he can then go back and verify on video what the analyst has told him. Again, it is like starting in the middle instead of the beginning.



If your offensive team reads the speed sweep as in a power read, studying how the defense defends the play will be great information as you attack the defense with your game plan. The analyst could also put together some short video play lists in Hudl (opponent vs Power Read) to jumpstart the staff in creating the game plan. The analyst must know how the defense will deal with the basics of offense today- zones, zone keeps, powers, counters, options, etc.


One of the basics the offensive coordinator needs to know is whether or not the defense flip flop personnel-- wide/short side, tight end side/open side, or do they just play right or left? Shifts can be effective against teams that flip flop their guys. Each week and game by game, the analyst will learn more and more what kind of information the offensive staff wants and make sure he can have that data in the scouting report for them.



The analyst can also start a conversation or open his report with the staff about the philosophy of the defense. Are they a multiple defense that tries to confuse the offense with looks and stunts or a single defensive scheme that attempts to adjust to formations and play technique football? What is their pass coverage philosophy-man or zone or some combination? Understanding how the defense will align or adjust to the basic formations used by the offense is a great place to start. In today's football, we see many offensive teams that use an attack without any tight ends. If the offense has a tight end package, video of the opponent defending tight end plays could be very beneficial. If they don't use tight ends themselves, the analyst may find that the defense hasn't had many reps defending that extra gap and may have difficulty (especially true vs 3-3 Stack teams).



If they are a stunting team, the staff needs down and distance percentages on the stunts, an evaluation of whether they tend to be mostly inside or outside stunts or field/boundary blitzes. What kind of coverages will they use to back up their stunt game and are they vulnerable to big plays when they blitz?


Early in the report, a list of starters, subs and back ups should be listed. Evaluating their personnel is extremely important. Who was injured recently and may not be available and who would replace them? Which starter has been injured, but may be available this week? On most every defense, there will be some great players, several average players and some poor or inexperienced guys. This can be particularly true in the smaller classes where players tend to work on both sides of the ball. Those guys will need rest and chances are that the substitutions will not be near as good as the starters. When they enter the game, the offensive play caller must be told and should have a plan of attack. These are some of the details that an analyst can deal with that a coordinator may not have the time to handle.



If the defense has an All Star player, their must be a plan in place to handle him- whether that means moving offensive players around to match strength on strength, double the great player or spend a lot of time running or throwing the other way. Likewise, if the right corner back tends to get confused in coverage we would like to find a way to get one of our best receivers on that inexperienced or undisciplined defender.


Does your offense use shifts or motions? One of the ways to attack an offense is to confuse them with such movement. Overloading formations require adjustments. Does the defense have the ability to make those changes in a short time? Formation recognition and play expectation is a large part of playing defense and motions and shifts can limit formation and play recognition to the point that the defense may freeze up and forget to read their keys.



Offensive coaches will need to know how defenders react to and defend blocking schemes, whether they be hooks or reaches, double teams, down blocks or kick outs. Is #77 vulnerable to double teams? Does the defensive end squeeze on a down block and will he attempt to wrong arm the kick out block? Film study by the analyst will help answer these questions.


Another strategy where the analyst can aide the offensive staff is to put together a video playlist of formations and plays that have caused problems for this particular defense. If they have had trouble with power plays, the staff can watch why and attack them with such plays early in the game. Have they had trouble with bunch trips? If so, the analyst can steal some ideas from some other teams about attacking this particular defense. Often the analyst will find that the defense may have trouble with certain pass routes or concepts If so, they may have the same problem Friday night against your team. The offensive coordinator must know this information and have it in his passing attack.



Who are the good tacklers and who are the poor tackler?. One of the best thing the offensive coordinator can do for his team is find a couple of ways to get the ball in space to one of his guys will quickness and moves against the defensive back or outside linebacker who is a poor tackler.


The analyst must look at the overall team speed of the defense. Where are they a step slow? If they are a really fast team, misdirection is a key component of the game plan to slow the defense down. Some teams attack well but have trouble with counters and boot passes.


Third down offense and third down conversions have become a much studied item over the past 20 years. The analyst needs to spend important time on this, from knowing what looks the offense will see on 3rd and long situations, the stunt package that is possible as well as who the best pass rushers are on the defensive front. Part of the game plan must be how to slow up the rush on those long yardage situations, whether with screens, draws or run plays. The analyst can make some important suggestions in this area.


Offensive teams must make their 3rd and short situations. The analyst must know what formations the offense will use and estimate how the defense will align itself against those formations. Teams will usually have a third down and short philosophy and the analyst can watch the tape and get a great idea of their strategy. The analyst can also suggest what side to attack and whether or not the defense will defend quarterback sneak on 3rd and 1.



Another item that needs attention is the opponent's goal line defensive plan. Do they squeeze in and align in a 60 defense of some kind or just stunt and adjust their normal defensive look? What stunts can we expect? The analyst will want to study what other teams have done and had success with in goal line situations. It is also important for the him to know at what yard line the defense is likely to change into their goal line defensive philosophy.


Today defenses must have a hurry up plan to deal with fast paced offenses? The analyst can watch and see how they have handled that with other teams if they have used hurry up. Do they have a plan to get the call in and out? Do they lose their composure in these situations?


If teams want to win games, they must contain the quarterback, especially those that are dangerous runners. The analyst must make a determination as to the defense's ability to do so. If the defense has had contain issues because of technique or because of their scheme, this would lead the offense to find ways to get their quarterback outside.


Finally, the analyst must watch the defense run to the ball to make the tackle. If they tend to get fatigued, it could mean they are not in good condition or they do not substitute enough to rest their players. This may be because there is too great a drop off between the starters and the substitutes. This can be an important issue early in the season when the heat and humidity are big factors. Teams that tire in the second and fourth quarter may have conditioning issues. Game plan would dictate that you make the defense run sideline to sideline early in the game, pass and screen more often to tire the defensive linemen and use some hurry up tactics if possible.


The scouting report and recommendations that the offensive analyst presents to the offensive staff will give the coaches an opportunity to spend time on the details of the game plan as well as practice plans for the week. A competent and hard working analyst combined with a strong and creative offensive coaching staff can be the best friend of a football team looking for a way to pull the big upset.