PHILOSOPHY OF OFFENSIVE FOOTBALL TERRY BOWDEN UNIVERSITY OF AUBURN n my introduction they left out You are very seldom standing still. I the fact that my record my first year was 0 - 7 . Some of these people only see my record the last I do not know if I am a better clinician now that I am the Head Coach at Auburn. The first ten few years and they think I have had years as a Head Coach I coached at instant success. Very few things small colleges. I was at Salem come instantly, and very few things College for three years and we had in life come easy. I am very lucky 1 0 0 0 students. I coached almost the and I am blessed to have the job entire offense; ever single posi- that I have. It is a lot more luck tion. At Samford we were in Divi- than it is deserving on my part. I sion I11 for one year, and Division was lucky to be in position to get I for five years. I have coached a job like the Auburn job. I was the line, the Quarterbacks, wide only 26 years old when I got my receivers, running backs, and first Head Coaching job. That was everything else. Then I was a much at Salem College in West Virginia. better X's and 0's person. NOW, I went out and lost all seven games. when I talk at a clinic I do not The only thing I am thankful for is give out a lot of details. My the fact that I was coaching but no brother Tommy, is the offensive one was watching or paying atten- coordinator and he can do a better tion to what we were doing. They job of that. Coach Fisher would do did not know how bad I was. Fortu- a better job with the defense. I do nately, I learned to coach without try to tell you some of the things a lot of people watching. In the I am doing. As a young coach I SEC you do not get a lot of time to always try to analyze what I am learn on the job. doing, and what I might do better, I was a student of the game of and what I can find to be important football when I first started and for the reasons for our success. I I am a student of the game now. I have a good base or foundation to was always a better student of the which to speak from. I have been game than I was a player. I loved running the same things and have to play football. Not only is my had the same offensive philosophy job football, my hobby is football. since I have been coaching at all It is important that coaches remain levels. At times as young coaches students of the game. I know it is we may think the coaches at the next important to continue to learn level know a lot more than we do about the game each year. and that they run a lot more than I was fortunate to go on the Nike we do. Well, we are running the same Tour this year. It was the first offense that we ran at Samford and time that I had a chance to go. Nike Salem College. We ran the same takes the coaches on a tour to offense and went undefeated in the Mexico, and other places. You talk SEC. I feel the same situation is about the kid in the candy store; true in high school. There are I was sitting around with Joe certain principles that are true at Paterno, LaVell Edwards, my dad, all levels. As a Head Coach or as Steve Spurrier, and other great a Coordinator, we need to remember coaches. I did a lot of listening. these facts. The point I am trying to make is I would be remised if I did not that we can always learn football. say thanks to the high school We need to learn more football or coaches of Florida. They were very we become stale. Nothing remains instrumental inmy coaching career. the same. If you are not going When I left for Salem College in forward, you are going backwards. 1983 I had been a coach at Florida State University for four years. We important to accentuate the posi- built our program at Salem College tive. Develop a positive attitude on Florida athletes. I would come to your players so that they can be to Florida on Spring break to successful. I have never had a recruit players. I would come down better example of this than this in my own car and spend the night year when we came to Gainsville to with many of the high school play the University of Florida. We coaches. We did not have much to were very fortunate to beat Florida offer at Salem, but the high school in Gainsville. However, if our coaches of Florida treated me super players had read the newspaper, we and enhanced my career. At Samford would not have had a chance. We were it was the same thing. We had great a 17 point underdog. We were play- success with the high school ath- ing the Number One team in the letes from Florida. Of course the nation. Coach Spurrier had not lost change we have made at Auburn has a game to an SEC team in Gainsville. been a greater emphasis of supple- We had won 17 straight games and menting our State athletes with another win would break our record those athletes from Florida. I for an Auburn team. The game was on commend the coaches from Florida National TV. We would have to win for the job that you do with a scoring contest. football. The state has the popu- The biggest thing I had to do lation and a lot of things going that week was to get to the news- for hiah school football. You are papers to tell our players that I doing 2 super job. Much of our felt we could win that game. I went success we have had has come from over all of the positive aspects the fact that we have some good that we had going for us. I had to athletes from the State of Florida. get our players to believe we could They have been good ambassadors of win the game. If your players do the state. not believe they can win, it will I have always felt the most be tough to win. They will rise to innovative coaches in America are your level of expectations. Coach- high school coaches. We are too up ing did not win that game; the tight in college. We get in games players won that game because they and think our job is on the line believed they could win. You must and we do not do anything innova- always give your players the feel- tive. We look at a lot of films of ing that they can win. high school games and see a lot of I can go from Samford to Auburn good things in those films. and be successful. If I had lis- I am going to talk about a few tened to all the Auburn Alumni, or things on offense that I believe believed all that I read in the in. I will talk about what I believe newspaper, there was no way I could in philosophically. Let me say this have been successful at Auburn. to begin with. I have been taught They were all convinced you could this and you should never forget not go from a small school to an this. I have been taught to be a SEC school and be successful. You positive football coach. The great- have to be a positive coach. I do est thing you can do as a coach is not like negative coaches. You to have a positive attitude and to could not coach for me if you were accentuate the positive, as opposed not a positive coach. All I want to to being a coach that is negative. hear is how we are going to win. I I know at times we get caught up in want the assistant coaches to tell poor mouthing our team and that we the players how they are going to are no good. When you do that all make them winners. you are doing is degrading your I usually give a talk on Attitude athletes. We can recruit. After we from a Leadership standpoint. As a recruit that is all that we have. football coach, you must believe in You must make the players that you yourself and that you have as much have, believe they can win. Very knowledge and ability as anyone seldom are you going to have ath- else has. Then you have to get the letes that are better than someone players to believe in themselves. else has. That is where it all starts. I would say this, it is so Before I talk about our Of fen- sive Philosophy and what I think is to give yourself a chance to win, important to win, I want to tell make sure the defense dilemma is you I am a Bowden. As a Bowden we solved first. talk offensive football all of the As an offensive coach I tell my time. I run the style of program defensive staff I want to be in the that my dad runs. As the Head Coach top 5 in Scoring Defense. I think I call the offense. I am the I can average 32 points per game in offensive coordinator, and Head a bad year. I think we know enough Coach, and I call the plays. I hire on offense to do that. I tell our a defensive coordinator and he defense we are not going to win the calls the defense. That has always big games unless we are in the top been my philosophy and that is the 5 in Scoring Defense. To do that I way my father does it. I can't be tell our defense two things. They in both offensive and defensive have to have a great rush defense. meetings so I hire the defensive That comes out to less than 3 yards coordinator. He is going to be per rush in college. The other given the credit or he is going to aspect of the defense is giving up take the blame. It gets you a good the big play. Great rush defenses coordinator this way. That is the do not give up the big play. You way it works for me, but not all will never get beat if you do not coaches do it that way. give up the big play. As much as I am going to talk on Florida played great defense offense I want you to know that this year, statistically. They had offensedoes not win Championships. a great rush defense. They were in Offense is not your answer to the top five. They did not give up winning football games. Defense is the big play, even though they gave going to win for you. That is the up a lot of in between yardage. key to big games, and the Champi- Alabama has been the most difficult onships. Offense is a key, and it defense to play against year in and is a big part of a program, but year out. Bill Oliver, the Defen- defense wins it all. We will have sive Coordinator at Alabama is a two or three big games a year. great challenge to me as a coach. Florida State will have two or He has never had a 300 yard passing three big games a year. Florida game against him in the last 60 will have two or three big games a games and they are always in the year and those games will be won top 5 in Scoring Defense. with defense. The big games are If you can develop a great rush generally low scoring games. defense and prevent the big play Look at the last four National you will have a great Scoring Champs in college. Three of the Defense. A great rush defense four Champs have led the Nation in should also give you a good pass Scoring Defense. In 1991 Miami won rush. The best rush teams are it all and,led the Nation with 9 playing 8 or 9 people close to the points per game Scoring Defense. In line of scrimmage. This is what we 1992 Alabama won it and only gave are seeing on offense. We played up 9 points per game. In 1993 against two real tough teams last Florida State won the Championship year. One was against was Ole Miss giving up 9 points per game. This and Joe Lee Dunn, who is now at year Nebraska won the Championship Georgia. If you look at their and they were second in Scoring defense you will see 9 people close Defense. Miami won the Scoring to the line of scrimmage. He will Defense giving up 9 points per play Man Coverage a lot of the time. game. Nebraska was second with 10 He likes to'blitz. If you will watch points per game. Alabama averaged when they run the blitz, you will 26 points per game on offense when see they play a soft Man or Zone they won it in 1992. Florida State Coverage behind the blitz. He has averaged 43 points per game in taken average football teams and 1993. Nebraska was around 30 points done great things with them defen- this year on offense. The essential sively. He knows he can play the is defense. I am not going to talk run tough with 9 men up close to about defense, but if you are going the line, and that will force them to take over a program and you want into passing situations. But he does not play the secondary tight; most points against a team I am he plays loose. That scares you. going to beat anyway. Or, is it best One year against Auburn, before I to develop a balanced offense that got there, he played with only two gives you enough time to practice down linemen. both phases of the game? Can you Alabama plays a little more run both the passing game and Three Deep in the Secondary. I running game in the big games? In think things are getting back to big games turnovers will probably more Three Deep. Everything is Four be the deciding factor. Level, with four backs deep. It use In looking at the best teams in to be Quarter, Quarter, Half. Now terms of winning the best teams are it is Quarter, Quarter, Quarter, teams that run a balanced offensive Quarter in the secondary. However, attack. The teams that are run I am seeing more of the Three Deep oriented are usually not in the Concept now. The thing I am trying hunt forthe National Championship. to tell you is this. Be great on An example would be the Air Force the defensive side of the ball and Academy and Vanderbilt. They ran the offense will be fun. the ball well, but did not have a My dad and my brothers have strong passing game. Passing only continual discussions on what is teams are the same. An example the most important offense to be would be Las Vegas, and New Mexico. successful. As coaches we need to Take the top ten teams in the decided some definite things about country and you will see them in offense. Just as I said Scoring the top of Total Offense. Florida Defense is an essential thing in and Nebraska were exceptions this winning a Championship, I do not year. Florida had more passing and think Scoring Offense is always the Nebraska had more running, but they most important thing in winning. I both had outstanding defenses. have always used Florida State as If you have an outstanding de- an example to explain what I mean. fense you can have some tendencies, Also, I have used Florida to ex- and it will not make that much plain this because they score so difference. The point I am trying many points per game. Florida State to get to is this. If I want to have will line up as 2 0 point favorites the best offense for winning a for 8 games per year; probably. championship, and not the best They will be 1 8 to 2 0 point favor- offense for Terry Bowden to be the ites in most of their games. I do Coach Of The Year, or to winninq not care what offense Florida State the Scoring ~ i t l e ,but for ~ e r r y lines up in, they are going to win Bowden the Head Coach. The best by a whole bunch. The whole prem- offense for me is a balanced of- ise, or the big question is this; fense. We do not have to score 4 0 What offense should they run for points a game. At my level it looks those other three games. Don't put as if 3 1 to 3 2 points per game is your offense in for Podunk Univer- what we need to achieve. If you are sity. Put your offense in to beat looking at your offense and you are Miami. If you are a "Throw it every going to make some adjustments, down Coach," and you average 5 0 balance is the key. If you want to points per game, and then all of a get to the championship level, with sudden you play against a great people with similar talent, this is team that has equal athletes. The where balance will help you. If you last thing you want to be doing is are a lot better than your opponent to be throwing the ball on your 5 you can run it or pass it every yard line. What do you end up doing down. In high school I imagine the in that situation? You end up in it should be a little more run than the running game. That may not be passing. However, in the big games your best offense. In the big games you must have the ability to do you end up NOT doing the things you both. do best. I am not saying this is In talking about a balanced the total answer, but this is what offense I was taught by my father has taught me to debate this sub- to "Keep It Simple," It is the old ject. Is it best to go out and use KISS Principle. KEEP IT SIMPLE an offense where I can score the STUPID. I recommend to you to keep it simple. Don't try to do too much. As coaches we want to add more If balance is what you want, the and more on offense. We here some- key is combining EXECUTION with thing nice about a coach and we want UNPREDICTABILITY. You must be able to add one of his plays. We watch to combine the two. You must be able games on TV and see good plays and to execute and not make mistakes, want to add them to our offense. My but you also want to be unpre- dad wants to run the same plays dictable. If you only ran one play but to run them faster. I like this you probably would execute that one No Huddle concept. We will probably play perfect, but you would be very get to it someday. It does give you predictable. If you ran 100 plays the ability to keep it simple, but you may not be very predictable, it also makes it more unpredictable but you probably could not execute for the defense. I think there is very well. Our whole dilemma in some merit to this concept. It getting the right offense is to takes a commitment by a coach. That find a way that we will be unpre- is a good example of not trying to dictable, but one that we can also do more; just do better. execute. My theory has always been Again the theory is to keep it to keep it simple. Again, when I simple on offense, and make sure say my theory, it is what my father vou can execute what you run. The taught me over the years. My father worse thing you can have happen in does go back five decades in coach- a critical situation is not beina ing. He was a Head Coach in 1955, able to execute the play. ~ h ; and a lot of football has been defense does not stop you; you stop learned and forgotten since that yourself because of a lack of time. Let me give you a simple expla- execution. We all have been through that situation. nation of being able to execute and Let me give you some examples of still be unpredictable. If I could keeping your offense simple. Our only have five plays in my offense offense at Auburn is no more com- and we had two runs and three plicated than it was at Samford. It passes, it would mean you could is a little more complicated than execute any of those five plays on what we ran at Salem College. We 1st Down and 10, and any of the five are getting better at it, and we plays on 4th Down and inches to go, are adding a little each year. It you would be pretty unpredictable. stays fairly simple. We do not use In a nutshell that is the theory of many formations offensively. I am my offense and that is the theory not saying this is the only way to of my fathers offense. I think Brad winning. It fits with what we Scott has the same theory. believe in at Auburn. As a coach I was with my father during the that has to teach and assistants Nike trip. He was telling me he did that have to teach, it gives you a not need more plays. He said, "All lot more time than an offense that we have to do is run the plays has a lot of formations and a lot faster." He was talking about the of plays. At least you can sleep at No Huddle attack. Could you imagine night knowing the players will know running these five plays I referred where to line up. Some teams can't to earlier from the No Huddle? Now tell until halftime if the players the defense can not get ready for will line up in the right splits on all of these plays. This takes the offense. coaching out of the game. I keep We have three basic formations thinking of ways I can get Coach at Auburn. We use no motion. I Bill Oliver out of the game. I do always qualify that by letting not know if I can line up and beat Georgia and Florida know that I may him all of the time. He is that change that theory someday. Basi- good. But, if I can get in the No cally we run three formations. We Huddle and run those five plays; I run the I Formation, Split Backs could run them fast or I could run with the Gun; we move the quarter- them slow. That would take the back back and split the backs but coach out of the game. Now, the do not move anyone else, and we use offense is more unpredictable to a One Back Set with four wideouts. the players. We substitute personnel when we go to the One Back Set. We take the different they may change their fullback out and put a wideout in, assignment. They may change their and we take the tight end out and pattern, but no one else needs to put another wideout in. We run the know what they are doing. The rest same Shotgun Split. Those are our of the team goes ahead and does what basic formations. If we ran Motion they were supposed to do. On run- we would have to work on the snap ning plays we do not change much at count for ever. That is a pain. You all. The most we would do would be have to work on it and work on it. to call two plays in the huddle and Then that guy gets hurt and you do pick one of them to run at the line not have a man that can run the of scrimmage. We give them Two motion the same as the first man. Choice. We would call a 46 or 46 We try to stay with formations that Sweep "AT THE LINE". We call it an are very basic. "Either -Orw call. We do not do a The year we went undefeated we lot mainly because we want to only had two formations. We ran the execute. We want our players very I and the Split Backs. We did not sure who to block and how to block. have the Four Wide Out Set. We added We can be successful doing this. one formation and we won 9, lost 1, I am not just blowing smoke. You and tied 1 this year. The point I may not believe me if I was still am trying to make is to keep it at Salem College or Samford. But I simple. Who do you think has the am at Auburn and we have beaten some most uncomplicated offense in the good teams with this philosophy. We SEC? FLORIDA! They just threaten have averaqed 32.1 and 32.6 points you with simple things on offense per game th& last two years. We need every play. They have athletes that to get up to the 37 point range to can execute on every play. It be in the to^ five in the countrv. scares you to death because they We have acc'bmplished a lot with are good at it. They are not afraid this philosophy. We only have one to try anything on any down. If you snap count. We do not have audibles look at what they do you will see and we do not have motion. We do it is not complicated at all. We not change the snap count because study them. It is not complicated. it messes us up more than the Other teams do a lot more compli- defense. Question: Do you run Check cated things on offense. With Me plays? No! We do not do run I worked the SEC Championship "Check With Me" plays. Every now between Alabama and Florida on TV. and then we run the "Either - Or" I thought I caught this in the paper play. Again, we do a lot of sight the next day about one of the TD's adjustments. Florida scored. They had a 1st Down A lot of coaches ask me how I can on the 1 yardline. The QB threw the tell all of our opponents that we Slant Pass and they scored. The only have one snap count. We tell next dayithe QB said, "We had a them we want them to know this and Quarterback Sneak called and I saw we want them to know What the snap the defense was in a Pinch, so I count is. It is a simple DOWN - SET checked off to the Slant Pass." I - HIKE. We do not change it. could not do that if I were the However, about every fourth play we Coach. I could not give my Quarter- call a FREEZE play. We come up to back the audible on the 1 yardline. the line and do not have a play I would have run the sneak and taken called. We go Down - Set - Hike; the No Gain play and run the Toss but we do not move. If the defense Sweep on 2nd Down. That is part of starts crowding us I will call the our philosophy. Freeze until we get them back off We believe in keeping it simple the ball. When they get a couple of so we do not have any audibles. It penalties they back up and stop takes a lot of work to run audibles. trying to beat us on the snap count. We do have some Sight Adjustments. In high school all you have to do These things could be a Clinic is to get them to break the line of Talk. You could talk all day about scrimmage and it is a penalty. In these ideas. Both wide receivers college we snap the ball when they and the Quarterback will read the jump over the line of scrimmage. By defense. If they see something doing this we do not jump offsides. We do have some tricks we use with the more protections you have the our snap count. About the third more problems you have. Do you use game of the year we may go one time a Man Protection, a Zone Protec- on Down. tion, or a Hinge Protection? Do you I found out there are certain do a Fan Out and a Double Read on things you do not want to have both sides? Do you have a Bootleg happen on National TV. You do not or Waggle Protection? If you have want a lot of illegal procedure all of those you have a lot of calls, you do not want to have 12 problems. You can do a lot of men on the field, and you do not different pass routes off the same want to have a kick blocked. Those protection. That is not a real are coaching mistakes, and it makes coaching problem. A receiver can you look bad. I am kidding just a run 6 different cuts, and you can little, but it seams that way. run each of those 6 cuts off Play Perception is very important. A Action and Straight Drop Back ac- well tuned machine doesn't jump tion. It is not a lot of teaching of fsides. To mess up down inside to involve this. I want to be very the 5 yardline just kills me. If simple in the protection. We have you are ever going to change the about two or three protections. snap count it should be on first We have gone to the Shotgun down. I do the tricky counts on Formation with the Split Backs. I first down. was not big on the Shotgun Forma- We run a few plays and a few tion at one time. Now I am sold on formations. We go on the same snap the Shotgun in passing situations. count. We do not have any audibles. You can miss a lot of things and We like to run the ball. We do not the Quarterback can still get rid run it as well as we would like to. of the ball and not have to take a We averaged 199.6 yards per run in sack. We threw the ball 51 times 1994. In 1993 we averaged 210 yards against Florida and did not have a per carry. We run about eight sack. We had less than one sack a running plays. We run six plays out game. If you don't pick them up the of the I Formation and two plays Quarterback has to heave it out of from Split Backs. You have to run bounds. But, that is better at the Trap and the Draw. We call the times, than taking a sack. We have Screen a running play. We think of found it is a big play. the Screen as a counter to the I have always been a real detail passing game. It hurts teams that coach for doing self scouting like to rush the passer. The Screen analysis. When I was a grad student and Draw and Trap are all running at Florida State I was in Law plays to us. My dad always told me School. I spent a lot of time in if I ever wanted to add a play to the classroom. I was my dads GA for our offense, not to do it unless Self Scouting. I would study all of you take one play out of the our tendencies and all of the offense. You can't extend practice opponents tendencies. After two time. So, if we are going to add a games we would have Two Game Ten- play we have to take one out. Most dencies. Then It would be a Three of the time we can't find one that Game Tendencies. What do they do on we want to take out. You can't rep 1st and 10, 2nd and 7, and so on. the plays the same amount of time For four years I was the main Self if you keep adding plays. With only Scout. By Tuesday I could give dad six plays we can change the block- a Self Scout. This is what your ing schemes around. We can block tendencies are. Now, I get a Self the Sweep a lot of fun ways. We can Scout because I call the plays. If give the Sprint Draw a different you call the plays you are going to look by changing our blocking have some tendencies. scheme. I found out something about I am not so concerned on the tendencies. They are not bad to Passing Game about the number of have; they are good if you can win. pass plays you have as I am the Then you create tendencies. "Auburn number of pass protections you may win, but they run the same play have. My favorite position to coach on 1st and 10." Then it is "they is the offensive line. We all know run the same play on 2nd and 3 every time. " By the seventh game you have be the oldest head coach in Amer- created some unbelievable tenden- ica. I think he was right. I have cies. Then in the next game you go a long way to go. The older I get out and make sure you do not run the more I see that the game gets your tendencies. Then that is when very simple. We like to say that we run our Split Backs. That is when you win with blocking and tackling. we throw to the Tight End like we You win with fundamentals. This is did against Florida. We had not true. Now, it might be the funda- thrown to the Tight End but three mentals of a Vertical Passing Game times all year. In that game we hit as opposed to the fundamentals of the Tight End for seven passes and an Isolation Play in the 1960's. It 123 yards. Tendencies are not bad is still the fundamentals. It is to have IF YOU KNOW THEM. If you do very simple. have tendencies it is because you We do not start Spring Practice are successful. until April 1st. We like to study It is like saying, "We are going our offense from last year. What do to run the Toss Sweep, and you know we need to improve? Are we devel- we are going to run the Toss Sweep. oping tendencies? Is it a matter of Now, lets see if you can stop it." personnel? This past year we lost That is basically been our theory. about 30 yard per game out of our Then when we know we are over doing fullback. We lost two fullbacks the it, that is when I am going to hit year before. This year we had two you with a reverse, or the Fullback young fullbacks. We may not have to Belly Cutback, or the Halfback change things, just recognize that Pass. We could run our Quarterback we may be less talented in that Naked. In this philosophy you are area. We are not going to jump the going to have tendencies. Because boat because of this fact. I try to of this you need to have Counter recruit toward the scheme we run. Plays that offset the other plays. I am reluctant to change my scheme. In our offense we run the Toss I can recruit and you can't. I do Sweep so we have to run the Fullback not like to coach things I do not Belly. If we don't the linebackers know. Coach things you know and can will move laterally too fast. We teach. have to run the Reverse or Naked as Do we have any questions? I am we call it. This is to keep the not going to talk individual plays. Safety from supporting too fast to Hopefully, I have covered some one side. You have to run counters things that will help you become to your regular plays. If you run successful on offense. You win with the Sprint Draw you run the Sprint defense. Don't give up the big Draw Passing Attack. If you run the play. Offensively, the teams that Counter, you run the Bootleg off win the most are balanced offenses the Counter. Each play has a good that run and pass the ball well. counter ' play or a companion or Those two things are essential. complementary play off it. It al- In the summer we hold two camps lows you to stay simple but also to at Auburn University. Both of them be unpredictable. are outstanding. We have a family I am trying to give you some camp called the "BOWDEN CAMP. " It ideas offensively. I am sure most is a Quarterback and Receiver Camp. of you have faced the same problems We think it is one of the best in that I have faced in my career. It the country. My dad and my brothers is a matter of dealing with the time run it. We work everyday. None of you can spend with a certain number us leave. It is different than most of people in football and you are camps. Our Auburn Football Camp trying to get better at what you would probably be different, but are doing. We want to be better not any different than what most coaches and we study and study. We schools have. We think we have a work more and more. Someone asked great facility. The Bowden Camp is me how it felt to be one of the the third week of June, and the youngest head coaches in the coun- Auburn Camp is the second week of try. My dad told me it was not June. We would invite you to come important to be the youngest coach and visit with us. I appreciate in America; it is more important to your attention.