Inaugural Will Muschamp Coaches Clinic a success

Over 250 high school coaches got an inside view of the new-look Florida football program over the weekend as they took part in the 2011 Will Muschamp Coaches Clinic, which was sponsored by IMG Academies. Coaches from all over the southeast took part in sessions highlighted by speakers such as defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and Super Bowl-winning former NFL head coach and current ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden.

After taking in an introductory session Thursday evening, the clinic started off on Friday morning with sessions from Quinn and Weis in the Touchdown Terrace. The new Florida coordinators were very impressive as they imparted some of their vast football knowledge with those in attendance.

Quinn, who joined the Gators after a 10-year stint in the NFL, talked about the importance of creating turnovers and game-changing moments on the defensive side of the ball. After noting that teams who win the turnover battle win the game 79 percent of the time, he proceeded to dive into the technical aspects of taking the ball away from the opponent. With the help of NFL video highlights, he explained proper technique for stripping and punching the ball and helped coaches understand when it is the appropriate time to do such things. He stressed that the first priority is to make the tackle, but causing turnovers can be a huge momentum swing for your team.

With an introduction from Coach Muschamp as the greatest offensive play-caller in football, Weis took the mic and engaged the audience for over an hour discussing his philosophy on game-planning and play-calling. One of the first things that Weis has done in each of his coaching stops is evaluate the team’s talent and form his offense around the pieces that he has to work with. He noted that while serving as the head coach at Notre Dame they had three good wide receivers, thus they lined up in a three-wide set most of the time. Last season with the Kansas City Chiefs, they had two great running backs and a veteran offensive line. He formed his offense around those strengths and the Chiefs went on to lead the NFL in rushing while Jamaal Charles was the league’s second-leading rusher.

Weis went on to talk about the importance of forming a game plan and some keys to play-calling during a game. He said that what takes precedence when drawing up a game plan is what the players, and especially the quarterback, are comfortable with. While Weis may think that he has a great play in his pocket for Saturday, if the quarterback isn’t comfortable running it then it’s probably not going to work. On game day, he had two points of emphasis. If you’re game plan is not working, you have to be willing to adjust, even as early as the first quarter. Conversely, if you find a play that works, don’t be afraid to run it again and again until the defense figures out a way to stop it.

After getting a chance to watch Muschamp, Quinn and Weis in action during Friday afternoon’s practice, the high school coaches were treated to an hour-long session with Gruden on Saturday morning. Gruden touched on numerous topics during his session, ranging from some of his favorite plays (such as a one-back power run) to how important it is to break the huddle and line up quickly. After the session, he had a chance to talk with some local media and had great reviews about the new Gators’ coaching staff.

“I know about the Gator program and their expectations and standards,” Gruden said. “I’ve always been impressed with Coach Muschamp. I competed against him when he was with the Dolphins. I’ve studied college football hard the past two years, and what he did at Texas as a defensive coordinator is on the cutting edge in college football. To add the battery of him and Charlie Weis together, I believe gives Florida as good a one-two combination as there is in the game.”

Other speakers throughout the weekend included Florida director of strength and conditioning Mickey Marotti, long-time NFL defensive line coach Pete Jenkins, former Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis and IMG Performance Institute director Trevor Moawad.

The clinic concluded Saturday afternoon as the high school coaches in attendance watched Florida scrimmage in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.