Most high school football coaches understand the importance of the kicking game, but very few want to spend the time on it to make it a real difference. Many think of themselves as offensive or defensive coaches, not kicking game teachers.
Turn this film study over to the analyst and let him be your kicking game consultant. A football analyst studying the kicking game each week can make a real difference for your teams during the season. The coaching staff is concerned with offensive and defensive game plans, practice cards, scripts, etc. and does not have the time to devote to lengthy film study of the opponents kicking game.
We have all seen that the upback on the PAT team doesn't block down or the end doesn't contain on the opponent's punt team. But there are other deficiencies that aren't so easily observed. There are also teams that just try and do the same thing every week in the kicking game to just get by. If your team plays one of those opponents, you need a great analyst to help your squad win with the kicking game.
Here are a few questions that the analyst will answer in scouting the opponent's kicking game:
Kickoff- What kickoff alignment do they use? How do they kick the ball (deep, across the field sky kick or maybe on the ground) and who will they kick the ball toward (will they kick it to our deep guys?). Who makes the tackles (we need to block them) and who never makes the tackle? Who is slow covering the kick? Personnel is important to evaluate here. Stats are also helpful- what is the average starting position after their kickoff. Do they onside kick other than desperation times? Do they kick from a huddle or do anything to keep the return team from counting them?
Kickoff Return- Is there someone we do not want to kick the ball to? Who blocks and who does not? Is there an "up" back who has trouble catching a sky kick or appears to be so slow we need to kick to them? Do they cover the field completely with their front row and is there someone there who could have trouble with an onside kick? What kind of blocking will we encounter (man, wedge, cross blocking). What is the average starting point for the offense?
Punt- What kind of punting philosophy and formation surfaces do they use? Tight formations, spread formations, gunners, etc. How will we need to align to them and do they use more than one formation? Do they rugby kick? How will we cover or make it look like we are covering all of the eligible receivers? Do they man block or zone block (punch out is common here) and who CANNOT or DOES NOT BLOCK? Who is responsible for covering the punt and who is not? Do they have guys on this team that cannot make a tackle? ( No need to block them). If in a tight formation can they get out and cover the kick or can we hold them up and return the ball? Do they use a 3 man shield and if so do they get pad to pad? How good is the snapper? How deep is the punter from the LOS? Where is his punting point (8-9 yards or less?) How many steps does he take and how quick does he get rid of the ball? Can we expect to block or at least pressure a punt? How high does he kick the ball and does he punt to or away from returners? What is their average net punt?- (a very big stat).
Punt Return- Who is their returner and do we want to kick the ball to him? Does he fumble or let the ball roll instead of catching it? Are they more of a rush team or a return team? Do they have rush speed on the outside or a top notch inside pressure man? Do they overload rush and do they rush in a manner that might be a problem for our protection scheme? Do they run a wall return? How do they align if we punt near midfield with short yardage to go? Are they vulnerable to fake because of their alignment?
PAT/FG- What is their protection scheme and who is a lazy blocker? How are the snapper and holder? What is the range of the kicker? Does the rush bother him? What are their splits and have teams pressured them from the outside?
In the kicking game more than any other area of football, the high school analyst may become a true "consultant" and can help the staff game plan by making suggestions of ways to attack and things to avoid. Especially in smaller schools, when time becomes a factor it is often the kicking game that gets pushed to the side. The analyst can be of great help in making sure that does not happen.