By: Matt Rhule - Baylor Univ.
Originally Published in: Nike 2017 Coach of the Year Clinics - by Earl Browning
Provided by: Nike Coach of the Year
Thank you, it is a pleasure being here today. There are a couple of coaches from my staff here. Just so you know them, I want to introduce them. Coach Joey McGuire, came to us from Cedar Hill High School, in Texas. Sean Paddon is in our football operations. I fire him every day and hire him back the next morning.
I am the head football coach but I do not coach any more. I am going to talk about things I believe in. I know the casino and bars are open so if you get up and leave, you will not offend me. Anyone who stays in here to listen to me at 8:00 at night with the casino open is a friend of mine for life.
I am the son of a coach and my uncle is in the Pennsylvania football coaching hall of fame. At Temple we only had one rule. You can gain access to our facility 24/7. It does not matter if you are from Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, or Florida, if you drive down 1-35 by Waco and do not stop in to see us, we are going to be offended. We want you to come visit us. We want to be a place about football. We want you around our program.
I played for Joe Paterno. The one thing he taught me in the state of Pennsylvania was it was not about Penn State or Temple, it was about football. It was Pop Warner, Youth Leagues, or college football, it was about playing the game. When we had a clinic at Temple we invited Rutgers to come speak at the clinic even though we recruited against them every day.
It is not about us. It is about the kids. If you want to be around us we are open 24/7. I am a son of a coach. I played on defense and I coached on offense. I had a chance to coach in the pros for a time. I have coached at the college level. When I became a college head coach, I had just come from coaching in the NFL. I was the man and I thought I had figured out football.
I thought I was a hot young football coach. This was my time to shine. The first year I went 2-10. We lost to Fordham that year. We ranked 129th out of 129 teams on defense. Three years later we had a 10 win season. We followed that up with another 10 win season and a conference championship and played Houston in the bowl game.
I cannot talk a lot about Baylor right now. I have not been there long enough. I can talk about Temple and at least you can understand what our approach is going to be at Baylor.
We went from 2-10, to 6-6, to 10-4 and played Houston in the conference Championship game but lost. This year we were 10-3 and beat Houston in the conference championship game. How did we do that? I worked for Tom Coughlin and Joe Paterno. When my wife was pregnant, I was sitting in the hospital with her. During that time, I read this book called "Win Forever." It was written by Pete Carroll. It is the best book I have ever read about football. I read it in three days. He talked about being the head coach at the Jets and New England and failed at both jobs. He said he took some time off and asked himself what he believed in.
I went 2-10 the first year and 6-6 the second year. I thought to myself that I was failing. We did not get to a bowl game. I sat there in the hospital waiting for my daughter to be born and I thought about what I believed in. I came up with three things.
Three Keys to a Successful Team
I am not good with slogans. I am not cool. However, I believe in brands. If I go into a store and buy a can of Pepsi Cola with the blue logo on the side, when I open that can I know what the Pepsi is going to taste like. If I open that can and start to drink it, it should taste like a Pepsi. If it tastes like Bud Light, I may be happy about that, but that is not the brand I bought. When people come to see a Temple or now a Baylor football team, what brand are they going to see?
The second thing is "what is our plan?" We live in a day and age where everyone thinks it is about play calling. I am not a guru of play calling. I need to sit down and come up with a plan, that will help us win at Baylor. How are we going to win at Baylor?
The last thing is philosophy. When you see the Temple "T" and you see the "B and U" on the head gear, what brand are people going to see? We want them to see the toughest, hardest working, and most competitive team in the country. I could talk about that for hours because I believe in that so dearly. But that is not what you came here to hear. That is our brand and we must exhibit that every Saturday. I believe in that so dearly.
We live in a day and age where the players we coach are branded and marketed 24/7. We recruited players this year that told us they really wanted to come to Baylor, but they were loyal to and they would say a hash-tag. They did not say they were loyal to the school, education, or coach. they were loyal to a hash-tag. A recruiting class with a hash-tag.
Kids are growing up in a time where everything is marketing with a brand. We have to use them. We have to make sure our players understand what our brand is. We want to be the toughest team. We have to define toughness. We want to be the hardest working team in the country. We have to convince our players and to brain wash them to believe we are the hardest working team in the United States.
If you come to our practices, you will see we want to compete in everything we do. That is our brand. How does that manifest itself? We do it with body blows. If you like boxing you know who Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward are. In their title fight, round 9 of that fight was the greatest round in boxing history. I almost put it in my presentation tonight. But that would be weird showing a boxing round at a football clinic. Mickey Ward was a journeyman boxer. He was a nobody. Arturo Gatti was the champion.
In round 9, Gatti knocked Mickey Ward down and the fight reporter said the fight was over and Ward would not get up. He not only got up, he floored Gatti and the reporter said the same thing. He got up and sent Ward to the canvas again. Ward got off the floor and put Gatti down again. That is the entire basis for everything we believe in our brand. I had Mickey Ward come and talk to our team this year. Gatti is now deceased.
You guys know what I know. Dad is telling the kids that they know what they did was wrong. Mom is saying it is not your fault, it is their fault. People on twitter and social media are filling these kids head with all sorts of things. What we want our kids to understand is what happened in this fight. Do not listen to what other people say. People are going to say you are going to win before you win. People are going to say "Count him out he is done," before you lose. The entire philosophy and the brand for our program is "just keep going hard to the body." Keep punching hard to the body. As the game gets softer our players will get better.
We live in an era where we all love our kids. They do not have to be fast, they just have to look fast on instant-a-gram. Kids in our time are looking at what they are doing. They are looking to score more and they listen to what people are saying about them. We have to brain wash our kids to not worry about what people are saying about them. Do not look at the scoreboard. Do not worry about whether you are winning or losing. If you are still standing, keep punching.
Keep throwing body blows. In the end we believe if we go hard to the body, do not worry about the score or refs, the fans, our parents, or our girlfriend, eventually the man we are going against will drop his hands and we will knock him out.
At Temple in our last two seasons, we threw those body blows. We were not a spread team and out-gained our opponent by almost a 1000 yards rushing. I think at Baylor because of our personnel, we will be more of a spread team. However, it is still a game based on physicality. We believe that every yard gained between the tackles is worth more than two yards run outside the tackles.
I like to throw the ball, catch it, and score touchdowns. But there is something about body blows. When you stick your head gear into the defense and run the ball between the tackles it pays off. When you are knocking the defense off the ball it pays dividends. I want the linebacker to fill and the running back falling forward for four additional yards. Do not worry about scoring touchdowns or the score in the first quarter. Just run the football and stop the run.
Our backs do not run out of bounds. When penned against the sidelines, they turn into the field and get more yardage.
This chart is over two seasons. We were not as good this year as we were the year before. If we have a fourth quarter shut out we will win 90-percent of our games. The fourth quarter points gets inflated a bit because when you are ahead and playing third and fourth team personnel, you have a tendency to give up points. That is the toll of body blows. It does not matter what the score is in the 1st 2nd. or 3rd quarters. However, the fourth quarter is when you will see the results of running the football between the tackles.
We talk about having a brand and the players seem to get it. The players say they know they are playing for me and they are not going to be the flashy team on the field. They know we are not going to score as many points. They know we are not going to beat people 50¬0. They know we are going to methodically beat teams. The beautiful thing is the players do not panic. Even if we are down by 14 points in the fourth quarter, we are always going to shut out the opponent in the fourth quarter. We know we are going to have a chance to win the game in the last quarter.
We Have a Plan to Win
We are not a charity. We are not interested in giving the opponent the game. When I was in Philadelphia, Chip Kelly was the coach for the Eagles. I heard him talk a couple of times. He said the winner of a college football game is the team that sucks less on Saturday. In the national championship game, everyone concentrated on who the best play caller was. However, the team that won the game was the one that did not drop the ball in a critical situation. The team that did not jump off sides at a critical time.
We all know that but we forget it. We get all caught up on the next gadget play. The number one thing in the plan is do not beat yourself.
The second item in the plan to win is to win the special teams battle. The reason I put this on the list is because the special team's battle involves everyone. It involves the offense. defense, and everybody. That fits in as an offensive brand. Everyone has an offensive brand. Everybody has a defensive brand. But who has a team brand?
When the offense scores or the defense makes a stop, who runs on the field to celebrate? The team does. They understand it is not about one side of the ball. It is not about some coordinator getting his name in the paper. It is not about the coach. It is about the players, our fans, and our team.
The most fun I had was the first year we were at Temple was an unusual fact. We had no place kicker on our team. We tried one field goal that entire year. At Memphis, we kicked a field goal from the 20-yard line that caromed off the goal post. The good thing was we had no decisions to make on fourth down in the red zone. If it was fourth and short, go for it. You do not win by kicking field goals in the red zone.
That is all we believe in. We have our brand and it is our attitude about body blows. We are going to be more physical we are going to compete and practice. We are not going to worry about the score. It does not matter what type of offense you run, the statistic we believe matters is scoring and rushing the football. With our team this is all we talk about.
In the idea of not beating yourselves goes penalties, negative plays, and loaf/MA (missed assignment). The first is penalties. I have been known to not like the officials. I am known for yelling at the officials. Shawn's job when he was not yelling at the officials was to tell me to coach the team. You have to be smart and not hurt your team with penalties. But that is one of the factors in beating yourselves.
The third component is loafs. You win the special teams battle by making returns and blocking kicks. I do not know much about special teams. I know the impact of having a kick blocked. You immediately think you have lost the game. Do not let that happen. Do it to the other team. We lead the country in blocked kicks last year. The reason is we practice live kicks in practice. When we go out to make a kick, I know we are going to make it. When we go out to block a kick, I know we are going to block it. We want to return the ball. All I talk about with our special teams is returns and blocked kicks.
Win the turnover battle. It all boils down to statistics. it is all about the ball. You need to keep it on offense and not give in to the defense. On defense, you need to take the ball away from the offense. In the NFL, where the talent of each team is similar, if you get one more turnover than the opponent, your chances of winning the game is 68-percent. If you are plus 2 in the turnover battle, you chances of winning the game is 82-percent. If you are plus 3, the chances go to 93-percent.
When our offense turns the ball over, they all know that plus one is 68-percent chance they will lose the game. Our defense knows that, goes on the field, and tries to get the ball back. When our defensive ends come around and have a chance to sack the quarterback, they go for the ball. Our offense and defense knows the percentages that go with turnovers.
Our running backs know the five points of contact in carrying the ball. They make sure to secure the ball whenever they get inside the five yard line.. They are not going to try to extend the ball over the goal line unless it is fourth down. They know when they take the ball away from their chest, it is exposed for the defense to strip.
You must win the battle for touchdowns in the red zone. If you want to go to the bowl championship series and beat Ohio State, you must score 70-percent touchdowns inside the red zone. That is what it takes. If you are kicking field goals inside the red zone, you will not win the game. If I get in the red zone seven times and kick field goals each time that is 21 points. If I get in the red zone seven times and score touchdowns that is 49 points. That is a big difference in points scored.
We have done the numbers and know it takes 70-percent of touchdowns on offense and 40-percent on defense. We cannot give up touchdowns in the red zone. We must hold the offense out of the end zone six out of ten times they are in the red zone.
To win the third down battle, the offense has to convert on 45-percent or better of their chances. The defense must stop the third down play 35-percent or under of the time. I just hired a new offensive coordinator. He was in my office and was talking about what to name a formation. I wrote down what I expected him to do. I wrote 70-percent touchdowns, 45-percent on third downs, out rush the opponent, win the turnover battle, and win the time of possession. If you do not do it you are fired.
Finally, the last thing is to out rush our opponent. It is important to me that our players have a bedrock plan they can go back to and believe in. When we do all six of these things, we will win the game. If we do four of them, we will win the game. They must believe in the plan to win. Stop getting caught up in who is touching the ball and just think about the plan to win.
Half of the items we can control by effort and being smart. The first point of the plan to win is "do not beat yourself." We had three losses this year. In all three games we lost the penalty battle. We were 9-5 in those games.
Do Not Beat Yourself
We beat Penn State last year for the first time in 74 years. I played football at Penn State and that was one of the great moments of my life. We went to Penn State this year and got down early. I told them to not worry about the score or the crowd. Just keep punching them with body blows. We got into the third quarter and held the Big Ten rushing leader, Saquon Barkley, to -9 yards rushing. We held him to -9 yards rushing in the third quarter and lost the game. We had five penalties on offense in the third quarter. A block in the back on a touchdown, three false starts, and a holding penalty.
If we could get our players to understand that winning is not about the other team or plays. Winning is about not beating yourself and doing something stupid. Winning is about not hurting yourself or self-inflicted harm. I go over this material every week. They tell me yes they understand, but they do not. When I showed them -9 and 5 and it hurt them. I was not talking about the aggressive penalties. I was talking about the stupid stuff.
This year any time we gave up a 15 yard penalty on defense, we gave up a score. We finished the season as the third ranked team in the country on defense. It was Michigan, Alabama, and Temple. Every time we got a pass interference, personal foul, unnecessary roughness, or late hit penalty, we gave up a score on defense. That is not about them, it is about us.
Negative plays are attached to the coaches. I have an offensive line coach named George DeLeone. He has coached forever. He is a great coach. I love him, but every Tuesday when we meet he wants to run five new plays. I told him all we have to do is keep from beating ourselves. Negative plays happen when people do not know what they are doing. Negative plays happen when we try to get so creative, we do not let our players play fast. You beat yourself when you miss assignments and do not play hard.
My defensive staff does not tell their players to play hard. They train them to play hard. They define what a loaf is and the players know what they are.
Win the Special Teams Battle
We start the year by telling our players that we are going to lead the country in punt returns and blocked kicks. We did not lead the country but we were pretty good. We blocked kicks because we block them in practice and we have live kicking drills.
We are going to hit in practice. We are going to talk trash in practice. We are going to compete on every part of the special teams. You cannot say you want to be the toughest, hard-working, team in the country and play tag in your drills. On the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth week of practice we are going live on our field goal and PAT block teams.
I know that if I was worried about getting someone hurt and going 2-10, I would be worried. We want to practice the way we play in games. It all starts in practice.
These statistics were compiled over a course of time in the NFL. It went from 2008-12. If a team has a turnover margin of plus 1 they won 68-percent of the time. If you had a plus 2 margin the chances were 82-percent. With plus 3 or more, the chances jumped to 93-percent.
Sometimes when you show players stats, they think it is how many times you turned the ball over. I do not yell at my quarterback. During the game he thinks he is Peyton Manning or Russell Wilson. I yell at the quarterback all week but in the game he is Superman. What I do say to him, even from the sidelines is, "Plan to Win."
Sometimes when you are young, you want to win the game on every play. He wants to create something special on every play. What I want him to understand is do not turn the ball over? It is not about how many interceptions he threw, it is about the times he did not throw the ball where he was supposed to or throw it on time. It is not about the number of times you fumble the ball it is about the times when he runs with the ball carrying it like a loaf of bread. All of those things go back to practice.
If you do not make your practices like the games, they will not learn. If you do not let the running back get hit, he will not know what high and tight is all about. If you do not let the defense hold up the runner so someone can strip the ball, you are not teaching the running back about ball security. We show the players the statistics and they know what turnovers do to their chances to win. When the quarterback stands in the pocket and forces the ball into a window that is closed, he is doing that for himself and not the team.
That is not a plan to win. It goes back to your brand and marketing. Selling players that playing for one another is more important than all the personal gains that they can achieve.
This year our turnover margin was plus 6. That is not bad, but far from where we want to be. We lost to Army. We were double digit favorites and lost because we were minus 3 in the turnover margin.
2017 Turnover Margin
If you play in Philly you can win the game but not score on your last drive on the field, they are mad at you because you did not cover the spread. If you lose but score enough points to cover the spread, you are alright.
Kids get so distracted. They worry about whether we should wear the gold helmets with the green jersey or the black helmets with the gold jersey, when all I want them to do is hold onto the ball.
Win the Red Zone Battle
The goal is 70-percent touchdown scoring percentage in the red zone. Our percentage of 54-percent is not elite. Go back and look at your stats. If you have 70-percent scoring touchdowns in the red zone, you are going to win the football game. If you keep them out of the end zone 40-percent of the time you are going to win the game.
Win the Third Down Battle
We were in the top 20 nationally on defense. If you are third and one or two yards for the first down, you should have about a 90-percent conversion rate. Third and two to three should be 75-percent conversion rate. Third and 12 plus is about 10-percent conversion rate. It goes back to what I said earlier. If you do not beat yourself, you will be in third and one or two. If you do not have negative plays or penalties, you will be on schedule to make the first down.
Last year in college football there were three teams that hit 50-percent in third down conversion. Those teams won many games. Of the four teams that went to the college playoffs, everyone was talking about their offenses. I was an offensive coach and I love coaching offense. However, Clemson, Alabama, Washington, and Ohio State were all in the top 10 on defense. Their offenses were in the top 30, which is good, but the offense and defense complimented each other.
Going back to last year, how did we beat Penn State? Not one player on the Temple roster had an offer from Penn State. We were 41-percent on third down and they were 15-percent.
As a coach, I get so caught up on 1St and 2nd down in the running game but I often times forget what is important. I forget about no penalties, no negative plays, score in the red zone, convert on third down, and no turnovers.
We know those things but the players do not. Show them the stats and let them see how important everything is in winning the ball game. If we do not beat ourselves, we will not be in a third and seven. If you do not beat yourselves, you will be in third and four or less. You will pick that up 45-percent of the time. It is the game within a game.
We were third in the country on defense. It was not because we have a good scheme or good coaches. It is because we only play 60 plays a game on defense. The year before we played 65 plays a game. You cannot play great defense when you play 75 and up plays on defense. Coaches want to talk to me about tempo and things like that. What it all boils down to is offenses converting on third down and defenses getting off the field on third down.
If the defense is scoring 40-percent and they are still playing 70 plays a game, we have problems with the offense. We are running too many plays and need to slow down.
Win the Rushing Battle
I coached the offensive line in the pros for a little bit. I want to tell you a story about that. We ran isolation and power plays. On third down we ran a fullback belly play. We played Navy this year and we had to out rush them to win the game. We challenged the offense. We went into that game with the mentality of running between the tackles meant for every one yard was worth two yards.
This year we were 3-3. We lost to Memphis and threw the ball 55 times. I yelled at the referees the entire game. It was a Thursday night game. I went home and locked myself in the house. I told myself, if I thought I was a good coach, we would have to win six straight games. We did and finished 9-3. We lost to Army, Memphis, and Penn State. We had to go back to our plan to win.
We were not rushing the ball worth a damn. I told the coaches that I did not care what they did but we had to out rush our opponents. We rushed in the last six games for 1648 yards and held the opponents to 737 yards. I told the players and coaches not to worry about the score and start out rushing the opponents. We physically dominated our opponents by running the football. As the offense began to win the rushing battle, the defense played better because they were not on the field so long.
In the loss to Memphis we threw the ball 55 times. That is not me. I had to go back to the plan to win. In the first game against Army, we lost 28-13. The penalties were equal. We had three turnovers they had none. According to the media, we lost because we could not stop the fullback. We lost the game because we had three turnovers and they had none. We were -3 in the turnover battle. We had 7-percent chance to win that game. They possessed the football and we did not.
Against Penn State we won three of the five keys to victory. We had 13 penalties and they out rushed us 116 yards to 38 yards. We lost 34-27. We lost to Memphis and lost four of the five keys. We lost that game 34-27. We lost the battle for penalties, rushing yards, third down conversions, and turnovers. Plus we threw the ball 55 times. We lost the game by seven points to a team we thought we were better than. That is all due respect to Memphis.
If you will show your team each week why you won or lost, they will begin to understand what you are trying to get over to them. They will be able to see the reasons and not what their parents told them. If you can show them how the plan will work, they will eventually get the job done.
The plan to win does not lie. If you keep the statistic, it is evident what you have to do to win. It does not matter the offensive or defensive scheme you use. If you can do those five things you will win the game.
This is on every wall in our locker room at Baylor. It is called the "Player/Coaches oath."
The Player / Coaches Oath
It may not be the coolest thing, but it is something that we believe in desperately. I want all my assistant coaches to understand they are accountable to us. It is all about us. It is not about what you tweet. It does not matter how long you have coached. We all take the same oath.
The first point says "I will hustle." That means you will play your ass off. Jon Gruden watched us play and said we play harder than any team in the country. We are going to play and practice hard. I will run to the ball on defense, and on offense I will finish. If you want to see a great team watch them celebrate afterwards.
Our field goal block team will never look to see if the ball went through the uprights. It does not matter. What matters is if they are hustling? They want to know if they are playing as hard as they can. If I am a coach, I want to work as hard as I can. The players and coaches are going to hustle.
The second point is "I will show Courage." That comes in two ways. Number one is the courage to hit. It is a physical game. There is a reason why people like this game. It is the reason I want my son to play. In this game you hit and it takes courage to hit with your eyes up and wide open.
It also takes courage to be hit. The receiver coming across the middle knows he is going to be hit. I know the receiver will catch the take-off, but will he come over the middle and catch the ball? You have to walk the walk. Do you play like you are the worst dude on the planet or do you chicken out?
If we need to go for the first down on fourth down, I better have the courage to do it. If I do not go for it on 4th down, I have to have the courage to block out what they write about me. I must have the courage to do my job and do what I think is right. Everyone in the program with a hat on their heads has to step up and be accountable.
When the hat is on the player's head, did he try to do his job? If we put him in a situation where he tried and could not get the job done, we will fix the problem.
Bill Belichick made it simple for everyone. He say just "do you job." The first thing in how to not beat yourself is everybody doing their job. I watched NFL players that had trouble walking that did their job on Sunday. To young coaches it is not just doing the job. It is knowing your job. We have to coach the players to do their job. What you see on film is what you are coaching. You must know your job and go to the depths of the job.
The last thing is "I will care about my teammates." You do not have to like them or hang out with them, but you better care about them. We have to teach players it is not what we say, but what we do. You show you care about your teammates when you hustle and run to the ball when you are tired. You show your teammates you care by how hard you play. You show your teammates you care when the hat is on your head and you step up. Coaches show the players they care by knowing everything about the opponent.
The plan works as long as everyone does those four things each and every day. I will close by saying thank you for listening to me. I encourage you to come visit us in Waco. We love football and we have given our lives to it. We want Baylor to be a place for coaches who love football to come and talk with us. Come to share ideas with us or talk about recruiting. We want Baylor to be a place where everyone can come and make the game better.
I want Texas coaches to know we are proud of the way you are protecting the game down here. It is under attack. Anything we can do at Baylor to protect high school football we are going to do. I have seen what happens when it is not protected. Come see us. You do not need to call, just show up. Thank you very much.