This video is from a couple months ago, but it's new to me and probably new to you, as well. Earlier this year, Urban Meyer spoke at a coaching clinic for Ohio head coaches. It was a presentation that lasted a little over an hour, and Mike Leach's name came up midway through.
And when it did, Meyer broke out a little humor before teaching a lesson. He began one of his points by, out of the blue, blurting out "Mike Leach is a certified nut job." You'd think this is a bad thing, but it's actually a great window into how Leach coaches and what he expects from his assistants. The anecdote from Meyer is a funny one, but the lesson is serious, and dovetails into what's been happening during the spring practice period.
Note: Meyer uses grown-up language, so you might not want to watch this at work (via Eleven Warriors).
Transcript and explanation after the jump.
"Number four: this is a new term we came up with about two years ago. Alright, individual. Mike Leach is a certified nut job. Everybody knows Mike Leach, right? He's a certified ... great friend of mine; out of his damn mind. Weird. Never plays, attorney, genius kind of guy.I learned so much from him two years ago. I had him come up and speak to our staff. We're not gonna do what he does on staff. We don't believe in it.
I mean, this is the most bizarre shit you've ever seen. However, what I did learn from him -- and this is amazing -- he spent all his time ... he's not gonna change what he does. He's gonna throw it every down. Some people do that. Every down.
He believes, more importantly than practice, is videotaping every assistant coaches drill tape. That's all he does. I'm like 'what are you talking about?' He makes his guy go through first developers. Developer, that's our term."
And that's going back to Mike Leach, the nut-job. Of all his bizarre stuff. How does he win? That's not by chance. He is as good as I've seen at development and specifics that I've ever witness. He actually believes -- you know the hitch and the corner route, outside leverage man coverage. I don't believe you can throw that hitch and corner route against outside hard man coverage. He said bullshit you can.
His tone is this: If you throw that enough and the guy running the corner route -- and it's high shoulder, low ball, throw the ball low and away and complete the pass. And I'm sitting there listening and I'm like you're right ...
His point is we don't run the ball.
The lesson is a bit out of the box, hence Meyer prefacing it by saying Leach is out of his damn mind, but it makes sense. Putting aside Leach's system and how much he throws the ball, which prompted Meyer's initial comments, the lesson is all about development.
Leach may not be able to be everywhere at once during practice, watching all his coaches, but they're all on tape. Everything is scripted, checked and re-checked before practice, with goals in mind. As developers, he wants his assistants teaching, coaching the fundamentals and basics that their position-specific players will need to succeed.
And then they drill everything over and over and over again. Each and every day, it's the same thing. He lines up his quarterbacks and receivers, and they run routes, throwing five at a time. The receivers are always running routes and the quarterbacks are always throwing, focusing on one route, then the next, then the next. It's so simple it's ridiculous, but it works for him.
Leach can do this because he throws the ball damn-near every down. Drill a play enough, using a variety of throws, and eventually it becomes ingrained in muscle memory -- both for the thrower and the catcher. It's at that point the conventional wisdom -- like the example Meyer used about coverage -- goes out the window. His players have repped a route-throw combination so many times, that it becomes almost unstoppable.
But if it is stopped, whose fault is it? As Meyer explains, it's the coaches fault. They didn't rep it enough. Timing off by a millisecond? Could've used more reps. Receivers and quarterbacks not in sync on a play? Why weren't the developers taking control of the situation on the practice field.
We've been saying for quite some time that Leach doesn't just do an excellent job developing his players, but he also does the same with his coaches. He demands a lot from his assistants, especially on the field. There are expectations -- lofty ones -- and an emphasis on developing the basic skills.
At this point in the process, that emphasis on development and reps is vital. The more reps individual players get in now, the better chance for success come next fall.