Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

The Abc's of X's and O's

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

The Abc's of X's and O's

Article excerpt

RIVER EDGE -- Greg Tanzer has spent most of his football coaching life designing ways to pressure a quarterback.

Wednesday night, Tanzer stood in a classroom at River Dell High School and got a brief taste of his own medicine.

Tanzer, a defensive assistant with St. Joseph, posed as a quarterback in peril at the monthly free football clinic at River Dell. The topic of Wednesday's session was the best ways to defend the spread offense.

But as most good lectures go, the topic became massaged and went off on different tangents. Tanzer now stood in front of the 40 or so coaches and players as Joe Gambardella acted as a defender closing in for a sack.

"The aiming point should be at least one yard up the field," said Gambardella, the linebackers coach at Montclair State and longtime high school coach in North Jersey. "You don't want to lose containment. And you don't have to hit the guy with a kill shot ... unless you're up three touchdowns or something."

Aiming points, disguising coverages, and finding out how to get your "BP" (best player) on someone's "WP" (weakest player) aren't things football fans talk about Monday morning. But football is a complex game of angles, math and matchups.

Clinics like this one hosted by River Dell coach DJ Nimphius pull back the curtain on some of the game's intricacies. They also reveal a close fraternity of North Jersey coaches who are rivals in one sense, but who also seek better ways to teach the game together.

"I think you would be amazed at the fraternity of coaches," Ramapo coach Drew Gibbs said. "You'd be amazed at how hard guys work and how much they clinic."

Gibbs used the word clinic as a verb, and it's appropriate. The information age has led to an amazing exchange of information between coaches at every level. Gibbs, whose team runs a spread offense, said he discusses ideas with coaches in Texas, Louisiana and Washington.

Access to game film and game plans keep the game evolving. And it's a constant back and forth with offenses diversifying and defenses trying to answer.

The spread and the rise of the zone-read play are the latest, hottest trends.

The clinic's format Wednesday was extremely laid back. …

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