Video: Big-time hit
Big defensive plays or offensive plays can ignite a team.
It is bound to happen. O vs. D. It's especially bound to happen if you have two separate platoons. Your defense is going to play lights out, keeping the opponent to three field goals on 12 possessions; but your offense is going to be pathetic and help to kick two field goals. You lose 9-6.
Or your offense puts up 61 points (like East Los Angeles College did vs. Santa Ana College in 2017), but your defense gives up 75 points. Then the "us vs. them" mentality sets in.
"If our offense could only score some points, we might have a chance to actually win a game."
"We scored 48 points tonight and lost, our defense just sucks."
"Can the defensive guys play offense coach? We got some dogs over here on D, you ain't got no dogs on offense, let us play O coach!"
The O vs. D mentality can really derail a season. If the head coach doesn't cut this out of the program quickly, it can become detrimental. It is even worse once this mentality has reached the coaching staff. Here are three ways to overcome the O vs. D problem in your locker room.
Do your daily work together
I've seen the two platoon teams separate themselves in to offense and defense for stretching and or conditioning. I think this can lead to create further division if there is a crack in the armor. It allows for a natural split in the team, for players to talk among themselves in these groups.
Instead of splitting up by offense and defense, keep them altogether and split them in to other groups if you need to break the team up for whatever reason. This helps your guys talk together, get together and build that team chemistry.Locker room set up
When you set up your locker room with all of the offensive linemen in this section, and all of the linebackers in this section, it can help with unit chemistry. But it could lead to some "us vs. them" discussions in a very natural way.
Think about setting up your locker room in another way. Maybe it is offensive guy, then defensive guy, then offensive guys, etc. Maybe it is alphabetical, maybe it is numerical. Any way that you can mix up the offensive and defensive units, to force them to contact and mingle the "other side" is a great way to help avoid the O vs. D mentality.Have your players work out at each other's positions
This is a fun thing to do during the summer and or spring football practice times. There is nothing better than seeing an offensive lineman trying to cover one of your wide receivers! Or seeing one of your skinny corners trying to pass block your best defensive end.
Use this as a way to break up the monotony, and build your team's chemistry. You will prove a point that each person has a unique job to do. Corners defend the pass and run, running backs run the ball. We are all in this together. Chris Fore is a veteran Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.