Friday, June 21, 2013

How Do You Eat an Elephant?; Playing Dallas this Saturday

Chances are I've forgotten your name.  Names are important but my memory just doesn't retain them.  Now really unimportant stuff, silly stuff, I remember.  In the 1960s there were ridiculously silly jokes about elephants.  Like how do you get four elephants in a Volkswagen?  Two in the front, two in the back.  Or how do you know an elephant has been in your refrigerator?  Footprints in the jell-o.  Why do I remember the silly but not the important?

But not all the elephant stuff was silly.  Like this one:  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

How do you defeat the Dallas Diamonds?  One match at a time.

By match, I'm talking one player against another.  Every play in a football game has eleven matchesm eleven offensive players taking on eleven defensive players.  If you team wins every match, the play will be a success for you.  Win every match in every play, you'll win the game.

This play went for a touchdown.  Maine has the ball and
scoots around the left end.  The Outlaws offensive line
is dominating the Houston defense. One-on-one.

This is an over-simplification but not much.  Coaches use whiteboards to diagram plays.  Their diagrams account for every player on the field.  They draw lines showing where the defensive player will be and showing the offensive player blocking taking that defender out.  If every blocker is successful in executing his/her assignment, the play will go for a big gain.  If not...

One of my coaches made this point on practice by having wrestling matches between players.  The team would form a circle around an open area.  Coach would pick two players and those two would wrestle each other.  The premise - if I'm  tougher than my opponent, if can dominate him in one-on-one combat, I'll be helping my team win.

When the Outlaws face the Diamonds, each player has a job - to beat one opponent.  On offense, every linewoman needs to beat the defender assigned to her.  Refuse to allow that player to get at my running back.  Control her, knock her over backwards, take her out of the play.  On defense, defeat the blocker who is in your path, secure the lane you're in, refuse to allow the runner to get by you.  And, sometimes tackle the runner in the backfield. 

Winning these one-on-one matches takes strength and skill.  Our team has been working hard for several months now.  They're strong.  But so are the Diamonds strong.  If two are equal in strength, skill determines the outcome.  Who fires off the line faster?  Who gets in a stronger - that is a lower - position.  In physical battles, there is leverage in being lower than the player you're fighting. 

I learned the importance of getting low in a practice scrimmage.  I was playing defensive tackle.  My line coach watched each play and between plays gave me direction.  He had me start low (the three point stance is low) and fire across the line driving the palms of my hand into the chest of the blocker, in an upper cut motion.  This would force the blocker to be more upright than I, and give me the lower position.  And control.  In one play the blocker was so frustrated he tried to punch me; I didn't notice, coach told me.  In another play coach told me I had made the tackle, not with my arms but by pushing the blocker back into the path of the runner.

I hate to admit how oblivious I was.  I really didn't understand the game, didn't know what was going on.  I just knew my job was to control the guy across from me.  That's the job for the Outlaws tomorrow.  Every player on every play, win the fight against the Diamond player across from you.

I looked for photos to illustrate this.  The following photo sequence kind of makes the point as Maine Jackson takes on a Houston defensive back, one-on-one, and frees Shadana Hurd to score.

Shadana's job is to run to the end zone.  Maine (red shoes) is
charged with leading the way and taking out any would-be

Two prospective tacklers here but really only one is in the play, the one Maine is engaging.
Telephotos lens tends to compress distance.  In the next photo #60 isn't even visible.
Note the yard line(s).  Initial contact between Maine and the defender is about the
fifteen yard line.

Maine is in a battle, one-on-one.  The action has moved five yards to the ten yard line.

The separation between Maine and the defender is a result of Maine's strength.  She
has driven the other player to the turf.  A clear and decisive win in this particular
one-on-one match-up.  Every football player should aim to win his/her match
this decisively, with the opponent tumbling over backwards.

The end of the sequence, Shadana scoring while the energy of Maine's block
has the defender on her back.  And note she has been driven all the way back
to the five yard line. 

The Outlaws mental focus Saturday should be to beat the player across from you.  On every play.  Like Maine did in this scoring play.  Do it and we could just pull off the upset.

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