College football stars of 2016 #3: Mike Weber

mike-weber-ohio-state

What a great start Mike Weber has made to his college football career. 351 yards in just three games is an impressive return for the Ohio State running back. So far Weber has shown himself to be an excellent between-the-tackles runner, but it’s surely only a matter of time before Weber makes some serious match-winning plays.

Weber will also benefit from playing alongside the excellent J.T.Barrett . They are sure to wreak some havoc for the rest of the season.

When Weber was named the starting running back he wasn’t actually the first to know. The assistant coach actually called his parents first! If Weber continues on this road, there are sure to be many more proud moments in this young man’s career.

mike-weber-ohio-state

College football stars of 2016 #2: SoSo Jamabo

soso jamabo

SoSo Jamabo To Make Big Step Up In 2016

SoSo Jamabo has already attracted a lot of attention across college football, and is sure to grow even more this term. The former Piano West man teamed up with Josh Rosen to give UCLA the best signee combo of running back / quarterback last season, with Jamabo averaging 6.1 yards per carry as a freshman.

Jamabo is a fine all-rounder too. He possesses really good hands and has a real slippery style that makes it difficult for defenses to lay a hand on him. He rushed for a total of 461 yards last season, scoring four touchdowns along the way.

With Paul Perkins departing to the New York Giants, this is the time for Jamabo to really step up and make the grade, and he seems to have everything in the locker to suggest that he will be up to it when the time comes.

soso jamabo UCLA

College football stars of 2016 #1: Tony Brooks James

college football tony brooks james

Tony Brooks-James is one of the hottest prospects in college football as well as being a highly distinguished athlete. A fast running back is nothing unusual but this guy is seriously fast, having run the 100m in 10.5 seconds.

Originally hailing from Gainesville in Florida, Brooks-James pitched up at Oregon and is about to begin his third season for the Ducks. The staff at Oregon are tipping him for very big things this season.

Many have been impressed with the fact that Brooks-James chose to join Oregon at a time when they had a lot of quality running backs. He’s impressed as a cutback runner, cornerback and he’s been touted as a potential star in the defensive secondary too.

This man’s some all-rounder, that’s for sure.

college football uniforms tony brooks james

Youth Football Safety: How To Play The Position 2016

Youth football safety

The safeties are basically the last line of defense. There was a time when most of their work was simply stopping runners, but the modern game sees the safety placing more emphasis on reading/intercepting the quarterback’s passes, in the same way a cornerback would.

There are two safety positions on the football field; the “strong safety” and the “free safety”. The strong safety is on the “strong side” of the offense, normally lining up to cover the opposition tight end. He plays closer to the line than the free safety and is first and foremost responsible for stopping the opposition running the ball. He also needs to watch out for a fullback or running back looking to receive passes in the backfield.

 

 

The free safety needs to be faster than the strong safety in order to be able to react to whichever play the offense calls. If there is a passing play then the free safety must get as close as possible to the receiver when they get the ball. They’re in a constant game of cat and mouse with the quarterback, who will do his best to deceive the safety. The quarterback may look in a different direction to where he intends to throw, or he may fake a throw in order to throw the free safety off the scent. If the quarterback steps out of the pocket, it’s up to the free safety to cover it too.

There’s a big incentive on safeties to deliver massive hits and put opposing players out of the game. Because of their position in the field they often have a fair amount of yards to run before making the hit, so the offenses need to brace themselves when they see a safety hurtling towards them.

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Youth Football Cornerback: How To Play The Position 2016

Youth football cornerback

Both cornerbacks have to be fast; lightening fast in fact. They’re the kind of player who you won’t really see for a lot of the game but then suddenly they’ll come up with a massive game-changing play. It is is their job to intercept or at least interfere with a quarterback’s pass before it is caught by the wide receiver. Because the majority of quarterback’s passes are not intercepted, being a cornerback is a bit of a fishing exercise.

They do block and tackle but because they’re more about pace, they don’t tend to tackle very hard. So this is why they’ll do their damnedest to get a hold of the ball. Catching it is another matter entirely though. It is so often the case that a cornerback reads the pass, gets into position and then drops the ball. This is of course a better play than letting the opposition catch the ball, but it can be frustrating to miss out on a turnover in this way.

There are a few different standard methods of cornerback coverage. “Help over the top” is where they team up with a safety in order to try and put a receiver out of the game. This is often reserved for the very best receivers.

 

 

“Bump and run” is where the cornerback aims to disrupt the timing of the opposition runner. They react as soon as the play starts and do what they can to block the wide receiver at the line of scrimmage. If they get in their way for just a short time, there’s a high chance that even if the receiver breaks free of the line and goes downfield, they will be too late to receive the pass from the quarterback.

“Man coverage” is where the cornerback sticks to the opposing receiver like glue and does what he can to force the receiver towards the touchline so they are more likely to go out of bounds if they receive the ball.

“Zone coverage” is where the cornerback covers an area of the pitch and only tracks a man if he is in that area, as opposed to following that man around everywhere on their route. This type of coverage can be good for interceptions, because the cornerback is spending more time watching the quarterback, so has a better chance of reading their pass.

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Youth Football Linebacker: How To Play The Position 2016

Youth football linebacker

Linebackers are big characters in the team, both in a physical and a personal sense. They’re certainly not shy, and given the job they do, this isn’t surprising. There are three linebackers in formation at any one time: a middle linebacker, strong-side linebacker and weak-side linebacker

A middle linebacker is basically the ‘quarterback’ of the defense; dictating to the other defensive players where they should be and what they should do. The middle linebacker is also keeping an eye out for a running play, and if one comes it is up to him to stop the opposing running back running between tackles.

 

 

If there is a pass, the middle linebacker will do all he can to disrupt the pass in mid air, and then will try and hit the back as hard as possible if the back receives the ball. These guys throw everything on the line in pursuit of big hits – they’re probably the hardest players on the pitch.

The strong-side linebacker is fighting with the opposition tight end on most plays in order to try and stop the running back getting upfield on the strong side. Also they need to watch out to see if the tight end receives the ball. In this event they need to be ready with the biggest possible hit.

The weak-side linebacker is normally a bit more athletic than the other two. This is so he can counter the cut-back running backs who manage to get over to the weak side. Beyond this, the weak-side linebacker needs to watch the long throw and ideally disrupt it before it is received. Failing that they need to pounce immediately to prevent the offense making any more gains after the catch.

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Youth Football Defensive Tackle: How To Play The Position 2016

Youth football defensive pigeons

In a running play, defensive tackles are responsible for preventing the running back going upfield. For a passing play they must push the guards and the centers back as far as possible. This is to enable the quarterback to step into the ‘pocket’, a space cleared by the guards and the center that affords the quarterback time to pick his pass.

A tackle’s job is all about gaps. Each tackle has to understand how many gaps he has to cover before each play. It may just be the one gap, i.e. making sure the running back doesn’t get upfield. Sometimes he may have to execute a two-gap defense, so that may involve pushing a lineman backwards into the running back’s lane to make sure he can’t come through.

 

 

 

One-gap schemes normally have smaller and more athletic tackles, while two-gap schemes generally need a bigger frame. Tactically it’s important to consider the quality of the linebackers here because a one-gap scheme will leave three other gaps that need protecting.

Although athleticism from a defensive tackle is one way of stopping the run, doing completely the opposite may actually be better for stopping the run too. So if you fill the defensive line with strength and toughness rather than athleticism, it might create a crowded centerfield which could enable your linebackers to have a better chance of making a big play and stopping the runner.

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Youth Football Tight End: How To Play The Position 2016

Youth football tight end

The tight end is a real jack of all trades so more often than not it is shared among more than one player. First and foremost they have to block, but they can also be used as an alternative to a receiver.

When blocking, the tight end is there to protect the quarterback from ambush from an opposition safety or linebacker. If the quarterback is in trouble then the tight end has to be quick on his feet, not only to block but also to release himself from the block in order to give the quarterback an option.

 

 

If the play is a running play, the tight end is a fundamental part of the bulldozer that is there to clear a path for the running back, but in order to be available for the throwing plays he needs to be quick too. How many quick bulldozers have you ever seen? Not many, and that’s why the position is shared quite extensively.

If you were to pick out a ‘regular’ tight end you could fairly say that they’re normally tall, but mobile, all-round athletes. And they’re tough cookies too. Stopping the fearsome aggression of a linebacker is no mean feat!

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Youth Football Receiver: How To Play The Position 2016

Wide receiver youth football

There are a number of different positions in the offense that at times can act as receivers. For the purposes of this piece we will concentrate on the wide receiver (split end) and the flanker (slot receiver).

Each receiver has their own ‘route’ to run for each play. This is where the relationship with the quarterback is vital, because the quarterback will also know these routes too. Because the quarterback cannot look all over the field at any one time and also because they don’t want the opposition defense reading their eyes, the receiver needs to be in a pre-determined position so they are ready to be picked out by the quarterback at the appropriate moment. In order to make this happen, the receiver’s movement is co-ordinated with the number of steps the quarterback takes. It’s vital they stick to their route and remember how it relates to the quarterback’s movement, otherwise the play will probably fail.

 

 

The wide receiver lines up on the opposite side of the line as the tight end, and is set away to the side so as not to be directly facing any member of the defense. The wide receiver does what he can to avoid the big hitters in the center of the opposition’s defense. He also acts as a good decoy, tempting the defense to leave their central positions and gravitate towards him and thus open up running lanes in centerfield.

The flanker normally lines up behind the back line. The flanker tends to be the position for the nimble and fast receiver because the starting position allows them the advantage of not being hit immediately. The flanker lines up on the quarterback’s right, so with most quarterbacks being right handed, they are in their line of vision for the majority of passing plays. A flanker will need to catch and will need to be tough enough to hold onto the ball when they get hit after the catch.

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Youth Football Running Back: How To Play The Position 2016

Running back junior football

The running back is fundamental to the offense. They have many different jobs to do so they have to be flexible. The moment the quarterback calls a running play, it’s the running back they will turn to. Then it’s up to the running back to see a gap in the opposition defense and make as much progress downfield as possible.

But a running back is more than just a runner. When a quarterback calls a passing play they may have to act as a blocker to help protect the quarterback, or they may be sent downfield to act as an additional receiver.

 

 

A running back can come in different shapes and sizes. The “straight-ahead” style of running back relies on power to bulldoze through the opposition defense, well as the “cutback runner” will be fast and nimble, always looking to change direction to outpace and outwit the defense. And you have some running backs who are just all-round footballers who may make as many yards as a receiver than as a runner.

The constant theme with running backs is that they get hit. A lot. A running back really needs to be tough to survive. In a close game it’s the running back who the coach will turn to time and again. There is basically an expectation that running backs will play injured and do pretty much whatever is asked of them so this is not a position for the faint hearted.

The running back will need a strong and durable running back uniform in order to stand up to all the hits.