Transcripts from Coach V – Defense

Tom Herman (Will Galllagher/IT)
Tom Herman (Will Galllagher/IT)

Any grading scale applied to football is going to have some degree of subjectivity. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder the saying goes, and Inside Texas’ @UTexasfootball has seen a lot of beauty (or ugly) on the gridiron in his esteemed career.

Coach puts what he sees subjectively into an objective grading system.

My grading system is based on total points earned against number of plays played. The points are awarded individually on each and every separate play. There are five different possible grades for each play. Players may earn a plus three (3) for a five star type play—-plus two (2) for above average execution—-plus one (1) for doing their job successfully—-zero (0) for getting beat but knowing and attempting their assignment—-and minus 3 (-3) for a missed assignment.

Each player has a total number of points and a total number of his own individual plays. You divide the total number of plays into the total number of points which gives you scale. The grading scale is as follows:

Any player averaging one point per play (1.0) grades out a B which is winning football. If a player plays 60 plays with 60 total points he would earn a passing grade—each point he goes over the total number of plays raises his grade accordingly. The system is built around rewarding any player that doesn’t beat himself or his team with mental mistakes.

The system also punishes any player that knows what to do but loses too many individual battles. If a player plays 60 plays but loses 10 of those with zero special plays (60 plays—50 points) he falls below the 1.0 needed for a passing grade of B.

I use the plus/minus (A-, B+, etc,) when the numbers indicate a partial add or subtract from the grade. This system was used by my first coaching staff and I kinda carried it with me for thirty years—it’s not perfect but it gives the position coach a measuring stick for his individual players.

The only way to earn the highest grade of A is to play a perfect game. I’ve had exactly zero up to right now so great games still can be better so A- is a very popular second best. This system and my grades will always be subjective filled with agree and disagree opinions. It’s entirely fair for disagreement (without it we might not have horse races) but it’s important to remember that each play only counts once instead of allowing a big mistake to have major influence on an individual’s final grade.

Earning a point per play in Coach’s system is passing, which is often a source of confusion. “B- was bad?” In the objective world of Coach’s system, it means not properly executing the assignment on every play. One person messes up, and a touchdown can ensue. CeeDee Lamb’s score this season in Dallas is good evidence of that.

I decided to put together the final transcript for the 2018 Longhorn defense.

2018 cumulative defensive grades


-The defensive line played well in almost every game, save some just-missed performances from Ta’Quon Graham and Gerald Wilbon. There was a lot of dissatisfaction with the pass rush this season, but Coach’s grades show that within the scheme, the DL did its job for the most part. The multiple failing grades from the Longhorn MLBs speak to being set up to make plays and failing to.

-Charles Omenihu was the best player on the defense. He was the only player on defense not to receive a failing grade. Other than Omenihu, of players to play in every game, Chris Nelson had the fewest failing performances (WVU).

-The air raid is obviously tough on defenses. Throughout the Longhorns’ raid gauntlet (OU, skipping BU, OSU, WVU, and TTU), at least one starter in the defensive backfield had a failing grade of C+ or worse.

-It’s tough to be a supernickel.

-The raid teams figured out the weak point in the defense was a middle linebacker and attacked it. The best game from a Mac linebacker was either against the most vanilla offense (Georgia) or the least talented team (Kansas).