On any given day during the spring, summer and fall you can drive down North Bellaire Drive and see the TCU football team having practice for a couple hours and calling it a day.What you do not see is what the team is doing off the field to get better, and I do not mean a couple curls in the weight room either.
Yes, football players spend a lot of time in the weight room pumping out set after set of bench press in order to obtain their freakishly large muscles, but many times it is not their brawn that wins games, it’s their brains.
Every member of the football team is required to spend a minimum of 6 hours in the film room analyzing their upcoming opponents, as well as film of themselves, each week.
“It’s invaluable,” head coach Gary Patterson said. “It’s invaluable to watch cut-ups [film] to see how you play, and to watch opposing teams in the summer time and during the season.”
The Frogs first regular season game against Baylor is a little less than four months away and already players are analyzing what the Bears are going to throw at them both offensively and defensively.
“We’ve already started pre-game planning Baylor the last couple practices of the spring,” Patterson said. “The Baylor tapes are already cut up so the guys can come in and watch them whenever they want.”
In preparation for the Baylor match up, the coaches and players have also been studying clips of West Texas A&M’s offense.
Why, you ask?
The new offensive coordinator for Baylor came from West Texas A&M, so it is likely that Baylor will be running a similar offense, Patterson said.
But what can a player really learn from watching film? Yeah, film can show you if team likes to run or pass on first down, but it is just tackle the man with the ball, right?
Any position player can go into the film room and study his opponent to learn what his tendencies are, Patterson said. For example, cornerbacks can learn what moves receivers use when they are being pressured. In addition, defensive linemen can learn where the offensive linemen are setting up, if they have trouble with spin moves, or can they be bull rushed.
“A player can watch film over and over again, and he can get to where he knows his opponent like the back of his hand,” Patterson said.
During a game each play last about seven seconds, and during those seven seconds there are so many things happening, at times it is hard enough just to figure out who has the ball. If a player has done his homework in the film room, he will know what the offense or defense is going to do before the play even starts.
“You’ve got to study the team that you’re going to play against, you have to see the plays that you think are going to work against them and you have to make sure that you players are getting the reps,” Patterson said. “We want our players to react, not think.”
Without a doubt, the position that requires the most amount of time in the film room is the quarterback. Payton Manning, quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, watches so much film that he often times coaches his own coaches.
Senior quarterback Jeff Ballard said, “Manning watches more film than his coaches and he tells them what’s going on before they even know about it.”
If you spend extra time in the film room you are going to be successful, because you will know everything that the defense is going to do, Ballard said.
“Defenses, pretty much throughout the year, are going to play the same defense,” Ballard said. “It’s so hard to put a new defense in, because it takes 11 guys to learn it.”
It is imperative that quarterbacks study hours of film of their opponents, because without it they would not know their blitz indicators, or simply the defensive coverage.
“If I didn’t watch film I wouldn’t have a chance out there,” Ballard said. “Most teams have formations that they like to use. Some like to play man, some like to play zone and some like to blitz. When I get out there during a game I know exactly what the [defense] is going to play by where the safety lines up.”
When the Frogs are preparing for a Saturday game, the quarterbacks are in the film room Tuesday thru Thursday an hour and a half before practice, Ballard said. On Friday, they watch film for a minimum of two hours in the hotel, and the review every formation. On game day the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers will get together and watch what they call a “blitz tape” for half an hour.
To you and I this may seem like more than enough time to prepare for a game, but according to Ballard, not even close.
“I put my time in the film room, but it wasn’t enough, and that’s probably why I struggled in some games, Ballard said.
Ballard said that is not going to be the case this year, because now he knows what it takes having been the starting QB the majority of the games last season.