Six Commandments to Victory
These points are taken from several of the lectures Coach Bobby Bowden gave at the Coach of the Year Clinics and appear in several of the Clinic Manuals.
I would always meet with my team the night before a game and go over some thoughts related to the game the next day. It is what I called “The Six Commandments to Victory”. I would do it for every game. I would take “six points” and try to use different thoughts to motivate them for the ball game. I stressed the importance of these six points and I would build my talk around how these points would win the ball game for us.
“Boys, if we do these six things, we will win the game.” As coaches, we can control these six coaching aspects. I used six commandments but some other coaches may have more and some coaches may have less. These six commandments are basic to the game of football.
1. NO BREAKDOWNS IN THE KICKING GAME.
When everything else is equal, this is probably where you are going to win or lose. We have a good offense and our opponents have a good defense. We have big kids, and they have big kids. However, the kicking game is where you are going to win or lose the game
Be sure you have your punt team perfect, your punt rush team perfect, your punt return team perfect, your kick-off coverage and kickoff return teams perfect, and your field goals and extra point teams perfect. That is the first thing we tell our kids; “We must have no breakdowns — and we must win the kicking game.”
2. NO MISSED ASSIGNMENTS
The second commandment is “No missed assignments.” You can train, practice, and prepare your kids to handle these things. You need to practice these points daily by stressing “No missed assignments.”
3. PLAY GREAT GOAL LINE OFFENSE AND DEFENSE
We always practice for a while at the goal line. We go full speed a lot of time because we do not get many players hurt practicing on the goal line. By goal line, we mean from the 3-yard line to the goal line. We put the ball on the 3-yard line, on the left hash, and tell them it is 3rd and goal. They get three attempts at running the ball. They may run a play action pass, a sweep, or another play. If they do not make it, they can still kick a field goal.
After that, we put the ball on the 1-yard line on the left hash mark. Now the situation is 4th and 1 to-go for the touchdown. The offense needs to get the ball in the end zone. The defense needs to stop them. In this type of scrimmage, it is a defensive advantage.
Then we go to the right hash mark and repeat the drill. The kids have a lot of fun. The defense may beat them four straight series. If they do, you can bet that next day the offense will score. You need to win on the goal line.
4. NO FOOLISH PENALTIES
These penalties usually occurs in the kicking game. “You could have won that game if you had not roughed the kicker. When you roughed the kicker, you gave them a 1st down, and they went on to score.”
Another situation may occur when your opponent is fixing to kick a field goal. One of the defensive players lines up off sides. Now they score seven points instead of three, and you lose the ball game. Those mistakes will get you beat. We say “No foolish penalties.” We tell our players “Just don’t get the foolish penalties.” Foolish penalties include lining up off sides, jumping off sides, hitting the opponents in the mouth – those are the foolish penalties.
5. ALLOW NO LONG TOUCHDOWNS
You ask how we can prevent the long touchdowns. Back up! Do not let anybody get behind you. The first thing I learned, as a player was if you do not know where the ball is, back up. They are probably trying to fool you, so get deeper.
If we are playing defense, if you cannot get a long pass against us, and you cannot get a long run on us, how are you going to score? If I play great goal line defense, how are you going to score? You are going to have to kick to score on us.
6. KEEP FUMBLES AND INTERCEPTIONS TO A MINIMUM
How do you keep kids from fumbling? We teach them how to hold a football. The fingers go over the end of the ball. At the other end, the ball is under the arm, and the elbows are down. There should be no daylight in the cavities. We stress both hands over the ball when the runner is going down. Most fumbles occur as the ball carrier goes down. As you are going down, the second guy comes in and knocks the ball out of the arms of the ball carrier. We stress once you are going down, get both hands on the ball.