Boise State and TCU. Both of these teams are very successful non-BCS teams. Going into this game, Boise had a 65-game home-winning streak, they hadn’t lost in Boise in more than 13 years when I rolled into town. As a fan, I was not only excited to see the blue turf field, but also to see the creative offenses that both teams employ. From a coaching perspective, I focused on two aspects of their program:
- Their pre-game routine the day before the game
- Their impressive shift game
I was able to spend some time behind the scenes with the team. Blue turf aside, Boise State has a very unique football team. I was interested to see that they operate in a very relaxed, family-style atmosphere. The walkthough the day before the game was filled with light moments. Offensive linemen were going out for passes and receivers were practicing their punting skills. With one blow of the whistle, the walkthrough took on a much more organized tone.
The most unique thing about Boise’s pre-game, though, is how they handle the sleeping arrangements the night before the game. Almost every Division I football team will seclude their players in a hotel. Even on home games, teams have meetings at the hotel and every player on the travel roster stays the night at the hotel. The next morning, all of the players eat together and travel on a bus to the game. Boise handles the situation differently.
For home games, Boise conducts team meetings and a walkthrough at their facility. They then dismiss the players for the evening. Players stay at home in their beds and then reconvene at the team facility the next morning for a meal and more meetings. The level of trust shown to the players was extremely impressive. The players do have a curfew, but unlike staying in a hotel, there is no real way to check up on all 100 players. The results of the routine can be seen in the success of the team. It really underlines the benefits of a trusting, family-style atmosphere within a football program.
Boise’s Shifting on Offense
The second thing I took special interest in on this trip was Boise’s shifting on offense. As most know, Boise’s offense is a hybrid of both pro-style and spread concepts. They emphasize multiplicity in formation and personnel groupings. The shifts I noticed that had the most effect on the defense were ones that did the following things:
- Changed the strength of the formation
- Changed the number of backs in the formation
- Changed the number of gaps on one side of the formation
The reason those things had a great effect on the defense is because they change the landmarks defenses align to. Defenses align to a tight end many times as the strength of the formation. Other times, the number and alignment of the backs has a lot to do with what front the defense is in.
There are two main rules I have when implementing a shift or motion into an offense:
- Shift/motion with a purpose. A movement should not just be a window dressing. The movements need to stress the defense or create an optimal matchup for your team.
- Be sure your players understand the reasons behind the shift and are able to execute it. There’s nothing worse than a penalty for having two men in motion or having to call a timeout to make sure the right players are shifting.
Just by watching the Broncos, it is easy to see they abide by these same rules. Their movements are very crisp and they happen very quickly. Below are some examples of the types of shifts and motions Boise uses:
Boise State has a fantastic atmosphere around their football program. Going behind the scenes with the team taught me a lot of great values that I’d like to bring to my own team. Oh, and the blue turf was as awesome as advertised.
Unfortunately for this game, my bad luck continued as Boise missed a last second field goal and lost by 1 to TCU. Final Score: TCU 36 Boise St. 35