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“Every time a kick hits the ground, it lessens your chance of winning.” -Murray Warmath, former Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach

Ever hear of hidden yardage? A few years ago I wrote an article on a blog about hidden yardage on special teams. There are a bunch of philosophies on special teams and we’ve discussed many of them. Tim Salem, son of former Minnesota head coach Joe Salem had this philosophy on punt returns. Now remember, there are some coaches in high school that don’t even put a guy back to field the punt. Why? Because a fumbled punt can be a game changing turnover. When Coach Salem was a special teams coach at Illinois he was determined that punts would not hit the ground. “If we need two people back on punts, that’s what we’ll do. But we’re not going to spend a lot of time on punt returns. Illinois only had 20 punt returns all season. That’s less than two per game. We’ll have one primary return, and practice the devil out of it. Catch the ball correctly and make 10 yards. That’s a first down. That’s the goal.”

I like that philosophy. And I’m always amazed that I just keep learning. I’ve spent just about my whole life in football and that’s the first time I’ve heard of that philosophy, not the part about catching the ball, of course, but the part about trying to get at least 10 yards on every return because that’s a first down. I think that’s a good way to look at it. Now here’s the thing. At the pro and collegiate level you pretty much know what you’re going to get as far as a punt. A high, spiraling, good hang time, 40 yard punt. You can practice that over and over and the returners HAVE to catch the ball.

OK, now the typical high school scenario, especially small schools. You’ve watched the punter on film and are pretty familiar with how he punts. Then you also watch him in warm-ups before the game. Looks like between 30-35 yards every time. OK, we’re ready. The first time your opponent has to punt, your returner is 35 yards deep. The punt is away and it’s a low knuckleball drifting left. It goes about 28 yards and your returner has to make a quick decision. Does he try to catch it at his knees or let it go? He knows you’ve harped on him to CATCH THE BALL! He trys to catch it but muffs it and…well, you get the picture. It’s not so easy to catch some of those high school punts on Friday night. Never the less, it’s going to be a part of the game and you’ve got to be ready. When I coached, we never had a well practiced punt return, like the sideline return, settin up the picket fence. We just asked our guys to CATCH the ball and get what they can. However, we did play a few teams that had a very good punt return and they were dangerous. Maybe in high school it depends on the size of your school and program. In a small school you can’t have everything. But it all goes back to what you emphasize and what are your priorities. AND, THATS MY TAKE!

Cam Newton to the Patriots…heres my prediction…1st, great move by the Pats…   and Im still not convinced a 43 year old Tom Brady can take the Buccaneers to the promised land.

Looks like MLB will be back and its a 60 game schedule. So…lets see. If you go 30-30 you prob have a shot at the playoffs. I guess then the goal is to win 35 games. Thats 35-25 and should be plenty good enough to get to the playoffs. But man, thats gonna make every game more important than ever during the regular season.

And did I hear that some states are  postponing the HS season or maybe movin the season to spring?? Ill tell ya..for the 1st time Im really worried about this upcoming season. Especially in small towns – the whole community revolves around Friday night football. I know its just a sport but…its more than that to smaller communities. Speakin of the importance of football, heck all sports for that matter, I heard one NFL player say he might not play this season because football is “non essential”. Well, for guys that have a couple million bucks in the bank – or more – maybe it is. But the regular folks who work for the team and stadium in smaller roles, they count on the season for work. Thats how they feed their families. And that IS essential. Gotta be careful when you make those kind of statements.

Top 10 HW boxers of All time. MY TOP TEN. 10. Evander Holyfield (44-10-2) 6-2 225 …9. Sonny Liston (50-4) 6-1 215…8. Jack Johnson (55-11-8) 6-0 200…7. Jack Dempsey (55-6-9) 6-1 190   6. Lennox Lewis (41-2-1) 6-5 255 …Larry Holmes

Lennox Lewis was big and strong and beat some good HWTS. On the list was Evand Holyfield, Vitali Klitscko, and Mike Tyson. There were other pretty good ones too. He was hard to handle cause of his size, and he wasnt clumsy. He was an athlete. He was a three-time world heavyweight champion, a two-time lineal champion, and remains the last heavyweight to hold the undisputed title. By the way…wrong about Dempsey knocking Firpo out of the ring…

One more thing…I nominate as the baddest, toughest dude out there right now, a guy named Caleb. He has broken nearly 200 bones, has had 11 surgeries, works hard on his physical therapy everyday and still smiles. He is the toughest guy out there. Ever see the Shriners commercial with all those kids? Well Caleb is the little rascal with a bow tie and blond hair who is one of the stars. He’s a tough little kid, I love him.

Wanna make a comment on anything I’ve discussed? Drop me a line at popsalbaugh@gmail.com. Wanna take a look at the transcript of this podcast? Go to the website at clinic.chiefpigskin.com and click under “more” then click on blog. There are more fun things to look at and read.

Hey, join us next week for another CP coaches podcast and we’ll see you then!

Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.  Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair.    Nelson Mandela

Sweet 16 Countdown: 51. Alaska -9.2   50. Vermont -1.7   49. North Dakota 3.3   48. Wyoming 5.2  47. Rhode Island 8.4   46. District of Columbia 8.4   45. Delaware 14.7   44. South Dakota 15.3   43. New Hampshire 16.7   42. Montana 19.2  41. Maine 19.5   40. New Mexico 20.5  39. Oregon 24.2  38. West Virginia 26.3  37. Nevada 31.2  36. Idaho 32.2  35. Nebraska 32.6  34. New York 33.0  33. Iowa 34.4  32. Minnesota 35.9   31. Kentucky 36.3   30. Hawaii 36.5  29. Connecticut 37.3  28. Massachusetts 38.3 27. Wisconsin 39.9  26. Virginia 40.8  25. Oklahoma 41.5  24. Michigan 41.53 23. Kansas 41.8 22. Tennessee 41.9  21. Washington 42.6 20. Indiana 43.9 19. Colorado 44.4  18. South Carolina 44.61  17. New Jersey 44.63  16. Arkansa 45.0 15. Arizona 45.2 14. Mississippi 45.6 13. Alabama 45.8  12. Utah 46.0  11. North Carolina 46.7  10. Missouri 49.0  9. Pennsylvania 49.9  8. Illinois 50.3  7. Louisiana 51.9  6. Maryland 52.8  5. Georgia 57.2  4. Texas 60.8 3. Ohio 61.0  2. Florida 62.5  1. California 69.4

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Coach Albaugh coached high school football in Illinois for 28 years. During that time he coached at every level and on both sides of the ball. He was the offensive and defensive line coach for four undefeated teams and was a defensive coordinator in his last 11 years, twice reaching the semi finals of the Illinois state playoffs.