COACH’S CORNER: Fixing Week 1 errors paramount to success this Friday and beyond

Angola’s Finley Hasselman sprints upfield by the DeKalb defense during August 20’s game. (Photo by Steve Bowen/Bowen Arrow Photography)

Joining the Outside the Huddle in 2021 as a contributor in is former Manchester University head football coach Shannon Griffith. A product of Northrop High School where he started three years at quarterback, Griffith brings a wealth of coaching and playing experience to OTH. Prior to being a head coach, Griffith served as an assistant at Northwood University and Ball State University, where he was a three-year letter winner for the Cardinals. Griffith now serves as Manchester’s director of development and you can hear him on Friday nights as part of 1380 The Fan’s coverage of high school football.

It was good to see us finally get back to Friday Night Lights! 

It has always been an incredibly special night for me having grown up with a father who coached high school football for 28 years.  Each year, coaches will have to have a bottle of Rolaids near their desk because of the multiple mistakes that were noted after reviewing film of their game.  Those mistakes will have an emphasis on them in practice this week leading up to Game 2.  

As a coach, I always believed that you saw the most improvement from your team from Week 1 to Week 2, given you addressed those mistakes uncovered in all three phases of the game.  After covering the Bishop Luers at Carroll game last Friday, I can say that each team has some issues that they will need to address before this Friday.   


  • Missed Assignments: Coaches will look at defensive linemen and what alignment issues they had, as well as the linebackers and who missed gap responsibilities and busted coverage in the secondary.  These can all contribute to big plays for the offense. One thing that stood out to me from last Friday’s game at Carroll is that each defense had issues with containment.  Too many times the quarterbacks were allowed to escape the pocket for big scramble gains.   
  • Missed Tackles: I am sure every team had this issue on Friday and coaches will spend extra time this week stressing wrapping up.  This should gradually improve week to week.
  • Creating Turnovers: Yes, coaches practice this drill daily and will continue to drill with their defensive units. It was a significant factor in Bishop Luers winning vs Carroll as they created three turnovers and won the turnover battle. Usually, the team that has the edge there wins the game. 
  • 3rd Down (Money Down): The worst feeling is when you have the offense in a 3rd and long situation and you give up the first.  Defensive coaches will stress in practice this week to get the stop and get off the field! 


  • Turnovers: Ball security and ill-advised throws by the quarterback. As stated above, turnovers are a critical factor in any game 
  • Penalties on 1st Down: False starts, illegal procedures are drive killers.  Very seldom can an offense overcome these types of penalties.   
  • 3rd Down conversions:  An offense that is converting about 40% or higher is really being efficient on its 1st and 2nd downs.  However, if it is 35% or lower, that must improve. Coaches will evaluate what is costing them conversions and look to adjust accordingly.   

Special Teams

  • Coverage Units: Did they leverage the ball properly by keeping the return man on their inside shoulder?  This cost Bishop Luers when Carroll took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown to open the game.   
  • Punt Team: Were there missed assignments that lead to a blocked punt?  Snapping issues?  Ball placement issues by the punter?   
  • Missed PATs: These just cannot happen and can be the difference between winning and losing.  

Coaching Staff Responsibilities 

  • Sideline organization: Do you have 11 players on the field?  I saw this a couple of times last Friday when the kicking team did not have enough.  This is where you must have a coach assigned to your special teams.    
  • Clock management issues: Utilization of your timeouts and two-minute situations can be a shared task amongst coaches or the responsibility of one assistant.   

While the above are the aspects of Week 1 that I would frequently look at from a head coach perspective, believe me all coaches will address these and more prior to this Friday.  Those who correct them will have a better chance to score a win in Week 2, but those who neglect them will see those Rolaids bottles needing a refill on Sunday.   

Coach’s Corner appears every Monday during the prep football season. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. 

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