I get asked this question all the time, often by people that enjoy my articles but want to dive into the background info that brings greater clarity to what I’m writing or could answer questions that my writing invokes.
It’s nice to be able to dive in and learn more about your own team without waiting for someone who deep dives into the strategies to write an article about them and hopefully answer questions you might have had.
I really got started from reading Barking Carnival content by “Chris Applewhite” and “Scipio Tex” that invited me into a deeper world of football then I had previously known. Even between those two and feeling like I was drinking from a water hose, I still wanted to learn more.
The short answer to how I did that is that in our information age with “open source” everything, it’s increasingly easy to find detailed explanations of stuff online for free. One link often leads to another and before you know it you are finding yourself in a library of info and analysis on just about anything. I’ve read a dozen different blogs and a few message boards that are often catered primarily to high school coaches with detailed explanations of how various schemes work.
Here’s a few of the ones from which I’ve drawn a lot over the years:
Brophy, who includes details on a lot of college coaches and how their schemes work:
Match quarters, where former Baylor grad assistant Coach Alexander details the ubiquitous quarters that you find at most every major college now as he learned it from Phil Bennett. I know Baylor (wrongfully) didn’t have much of a reputation for defense under Art Briles but Bennett is a pro that learned the defense from Bill Snyder and took from Pat Narduzzi and even Dick LeBeau and Coach A disseminates a lot of that for your understanding on this blog.
This one is invaluable for understanding the principles of modern defense.
Chris Brown’s Smart Football. He still maintains this blog occasionally and for a while he was writing a column at Grantland before that site went down. Brown’s great achievement, besides educating so many of us on modern football strategies, was chronicling how and why they were developed.
It’s like reading Darwin describe the process of natural selection, only applied only to a particular endeavor of humans. Many of his best columns are captured in his two books:
Space Coyote’s breakdown sports blog. Imagine if I were actually a coach with 5x as detailed an understanding of the game and its schemes and techniques. Now imagine if my focus was primarily on the Big 10 rather than the Big 12. That’s what this blog offers you, if you are wanting to learn a lot about scheme you can deep dive here for hours.
Blitzology! This is a blog that is exclusively about explaining different blitzes and the techniques that accompany them.
Zach S Dunn’s Inside the Headset. This is a new discovery for me, I think I was linked here by Alex Kirby. Yet another example of a guy with legit coaching experience who’s breaking down scheme at a high level. Much of the time I’m picking out trends and topics I learn from guys like this and applying them at an intermediary level for fans.
This one is great for detailing the Malzahn offense as it was when they were competing for titles. Now of course he’s having to update it with some help from Briles.
I haven’t actually finished this one but it details the Mike Martz offense that was so dominant back in the day with Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner, and all those blazing fast WRs like Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Pretty influential offense that has greatly impacted the modern NFL greater game and was based in core concepts.
Kirby has a few books like this one that detail specific games and the tactics that went into them. I got this one for free after he guaranteed to his email subscribers in a clever marketing ploy that the Patriots would win the Super Bowl in 2016. His details on how Belichick schemed the Seahawks zone-read run game is absolutely fascinating. Kirby’s written a few other books but these are the ones I’ve personally read and learned from.
Of course you can also track the things I write at Football Study Hall, SB Nation, or Inside Texas by following this blog. Next post I’ll talk about how I’ve tried to apply the things I’ve learned from these sources.