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Coaching Clinics--"How To" Football With the raft of new coaches entering the sim, my assumptions about general football knowledge have been knocked a bit on the head. So, I thought maybe beginning a universal Tutorial of sorts for the how to do football (depth charts, philosophies, etc.) would be helpful, not as an "expert" but as an interested party in seeing this sim succeed with a community of great people and coaches who enjoy the sport. I encourage anyone to post in the comments about a subject they feel particularly passionate about, but would like to add that all statements of 'fact' be supported by some sort of backing evidence. I guess we'll get started with Special Teams, since that became the impetus of the discussion of in the shoutbox. Return Teams Let's start with the rostered position of Returner first. We all know what makes a great returner: speed to burn, elusiveness, good hand-eye coordination to bring in the ball. So, look for a speedy Running Back or Wide Reciever or Cornerback for this position. Further, this doesn't have to be your starter: I was very successful with a backup CB who had high potential (4.5) but low skill (2.0) for several years in CFBHC. However, be careful about physical attributes: if a giant wide receiver is returning kicks, chances are they may not be the most elusive player with the ball in their hands, and if a bulky power back is asked to return punts, he may not be able to hold onto the ball. Also, you may want to prioritize safety to explosiveness in the return game (especially Punt returns), which has plenty of value. In that case, consider a returner that is a Target receiver of decent build and look for them never to fumble a punt return. They may not score any TDs, but they'll always hold onto the ball. As for the rest of the return teams, these guys have to be able to run the length of the field in both directions, ideally while shielding the returner from tacklers. Not drive-blocking per se, but really just ushering their opposite man away from the returner. Here's where you want a mix of mobile, athletic guys that have some size: LBs, TEs, some leaner OLs, DEs, Safeties. I'd say an ideal Kickoff Return team has a wider body guy just before the returner to form the front of the wedge, then populated with athletic LBs and TEs primarily. On Punt returns, focus on bigger guys who can run AND tackle, in the event of a fake punt or a punt block. Consider LBs and DEs that can move, plus some safeties. Some good hints on a very fundamental return in the Super Bowl in 2015: http://www.afcaweekly.com/2014/11/kickoff-return-middle-wedge-r5-double-l5/ Coverage Teams We don't really have the chance to roster these teams, but maybe fun to talk about anyway. The entire mission of coverage teams is to 1) contain the ball carrier; 2) bring down the ball carrier. For this you want disciplined players that can move well in a straight line AND get off blocks quickly. Outside-in for kickoff coverage teams, you want your fast, nimble guys: cornerbacks or receivers with attitude. Then, moving inside, your safeties, then LBs/TEs, and finally some really angry dudes like DEs that can move well flanking the kicker. Obviously, you want your kickoff specialist to be able to put the ball in the endzone, negating any return possible. Whether its a kicker or punter, put your biggest leg (read: Power) as your kickoff specialist. Here's a good article on Kickoff Coverage Teams: http://www.afcaweekly.com/2016/12/kickoff-coverage-vital-in-controlling-field-position-2/ Generally, the same applies to Punt Return teams, but in particular its nice to have your absolute fastest guys serve as "gunners" on the outside that race down and are the first to meet the punt returner. Again, large fast people should populate the punt return team, and you may want to leave one particularly salty gentleman as the punter's personal protector: maybe your starting ILB or something like that. As for Long Snappers: in this sim, you have Traditional or Specialized LS. Traditional means that they can also play as a Center on the Offensive Line. Specialized means that their sole job is as a LS. In CFBHC, I would think having a specialist would be ideal. In the NFLHC sim, however, a backup Center could be a viable option. Either way, best not to have a big 300 lb Long Snapper. You do want someone who can move a little bit: look for a 260 lbs guy. Some tips and recommendations for good Punt Teams: http://www.afcaweekly.com/2014/12/14-tips-and-reminders-for-your-punt-unit/ Speaking of kickers, it can be a bit confusing to see Accuracy or Power as a style for Kickers and Punters. Here's where experience can play a big role: I've had success with Punters that care about Power first--love the big leg. I find it more valuable in CFB to have a Power punter. In NFL, however, an accurate punter will help with field position much more. Why? Well, the game is play much more between the 20 yard lines in the Pros as opposed to the lower-skilled College kids that tend to play with more of the field. Here's an interesting article about teams starting drives inside their own 20 yard line in the 2016 NFL (https://www.sportingcharts.com/nfl/stats/team-drives-starting-in-own-20-statistics/2016/) and then the opposite for college teams (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/fpa). These are great indicators of what may be valuable for field position in each sim. As for kickers, I'm not entirely sure Accuracy or Power are great style indicators--the real value is their skill. But, all being equal, I suppose I'd rather have a 5/5 Power guy than a 5/5 Accuracy guy. "Hands" Team This is the team that lines up to DEFEND an onside kick. They are called the "hands" team because they ought to have the best hands on the team, and should ONLY be used on special teams for this purpose. That means, you want guys that catch or handle the ball for a living: WRs, RBs, CBs, TEs. Take literally all of your WRs and put them on the hands team. Don't put an Offensive Lineman on your hands...it will end badly. Again: skill position players for your "Hands" team. Redshirts and general Depth Chart Insights In general, your Redshirts provide growth for under-developed players that can and should be helpful in future seasons. So, first some basics: you can redshirt up to 10 players every season, but only once in their college careers. Redshirts develop at random, either +.5, +1.0, or + 1.5 (if ya lucky), so if a 1/4.5 player is redshirted, he'll either be a 1.5/4.5, 2/4.5, or 2.5/4.5 player next year without burning a year of eligibility--GIGANTICALLY helpful year on year. Playing time is almost always a more direct way to develop your players: higher chance for a +1 or +1.5 growth as a starter, but you lose a year of eligibility. It's enormously advantageous to redshirt a 1.5/4.5 freshman QB, and play the 3/4 Junior QB than the other way around: not only will the junior turn into a 4/4 (highly likely) Senior, but the freshman will be a RS Fr at (decently likely) 2.5/4.5, and ready to take over as a RS So at 3/4.5. That's called continuity. Skill (first number) is valuable in this sim, immensely. But potential (second number) is also extremely important. What do I mean? Well, in determining your starter, I'd play the guy with vastly higher potential if the skill is about the same. I'd rather have a 2.5/4.5 LT start over a 3/3.5 LT, to put a point on it. Really, any player 3.5 or better is a decent player in the CFB sim. Where you see real deficiencies is in players 3.0 and under. So, let's do a little game--- Assuming style and physical traits don't matter (in this case), Who to start at QB? Or better yet, what does your QB depth chart look like in 2024? FR 1.5/4.5 (SR) 4/4 -- this means he's taken a redshirt season already SO 2/4.5 (JR) 3/3.5 (SR) 2/2 First, the obvious: both Juniors make the depth chart. They've already redshirted. Then, I'd redshirt BOTH the FR and the SO, and then go: (SR) 4/4 (JR) 3/3.5 (SR) 2/2 What does this look like in 2025? Well, there you have some choices to make, and that's both the fun part, and where coaches make the big bucks. The Seniors would be gone, and assuming somewhat standard progression of +1 for RS, your team page for QBs would be: (FR) 2.5/4.5 (SO) 3/4.5 (SR) 3.5/3.5 I think clearly the SO would start, the SR could back-up, and the FR would be left for later seasons. This is good depth. That's why Redshirts are important. I believe that, barring one great recruit or an initially poor stable of QBs especially, your entire QB depth chart should have parentheses for Redshirts. Other Depth Chart thoughts: If you're a team that is clearly building for a near-term future success year (i.e. have a number of talented Sophomores and Juniors, and you feel like you're 1-2 years away from a solid team), go ahead a Redshirt that unbelievably awesome SR Defensive Tackle that you just signed from the JUCO ranks. Just because they may be your best player doesn't mean that they also won't be amazing next season. IF you can stomach a "rebuilding year," go for it. I also think it's much more valuable to consider depth charts and class numbers (# of Sophomores, Juniors, etc) as they MAIN spreadsheet in your recruiting efforts. I think it's vastly more important to have a balanced team of solid contributors than to have one or two special studs that require so much recruiting effort and money, and then trot out a poor supporting cast. Football is a team game, and this broad-based plan works. What else about depth charts would be helpful? It for now, much more to come...