Mike Bloesch – University of Tulsa Offensive Line Coach

 

Mike Bloesch (pronounced Blesh) just finished his second season as the offensive line coach at the University of Tulsa. In his first season as the Golden Hurricanes offensive line coach Tulsa set a school record with eight 300+ rushing games, which was also the second-most in the NCAA in 2016. That year, Tulsa also set an NCAA record in becoming the first DI school to have a 3,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard rushers and two 1,000-yard receivers in the same season. His 2016 offensive line would go on to have 4 all conference players.

I first met Coach Bloesch before my senior season at the University of Houston. Before assuming his role at Tulsa, Coach Bloesch (a former UH O-Lineman himself) was a football analyst on staff at Houston specializing in helping offensive line. I had 4 different offensive line coaches at Houston, so I also had countless offensive line assistant coaches as well. The thing that stood out most to me about Coach Bloesch was how well he understood his role on the staff. We had many assistant coaches that either tried to be THE offensive line coach, or would actually undermine what the head OL coach was saying because they didn’t agree with it. Coach Bloesch did neither of these things and in that part of my college career it was refreshing to say the least! In a 5 year span, Bloesch went from being the offensive coordinator at a high school in Texas, to being the offensive line coach for a record setting offense at the University of Tulsa. He obviously knows football, but I think what helped him make such a quick climb was his ability to know and thrive in the role he was given, and his ability to relate to players and allow them to feel how much he cared about them as people. Something that is hard to find at the collegiate level! Coach Bloesch is one of the few coaches from my playing days that still keep in touch with me on a regular basis, and I think that is a testament to how much a coach truly cares about his players. How willing is he to check up on and help out someone that can no longer benefit him as a player.

Coach Bloesch has been a coaching mentor to me for several years, and is someone that I contact regularly for advice when it comes to football and the coaching profession. I was extremely excited when he agreed to answer these questions for me. I was even more excited after reading his answers! Just like always, Coach Bloesch was very thought provoking with his answers and I hope you coaches get just as much out of them as I did!


 

1. What’s something you believe about the offensive line (or football) that the majority of your peers disagree with? While many coaches spend all of their time developing and fine tuning the starters of the offensive line I take pride in working with EVERY guy in the room EVERY day we step in the meeting room or on the field. I believe that we are only as strong as our weakest link because I have been through a couple of seasons where I have needed guy # 6,7 and 8 at some point. Obviously I am not able to spend as much time as I would like but I believe that the attention to detail that EVERY guy in my room receives on a daily basis has led us to be Top 15 nationally in Rushing the last two years.

2. What was the most productive run play that you ran this year? Why do you think you ran it so well this year? Inside Zone. Inside Zone is a Day 1 install play for us that my guys truly believe in. By the time Spring Ball and Fall camp is over each year, we will have repped Inside Zone hundreds of times. This gives my guys the confidence in critical situations to block any front/stunt/or blitz thrown at them.

3. If you could go back and give advice to yourself at 25 about coaching, what would it be? Take advantage of the opportunities you have to be around your guys everyday! When I was 25 years old, I was the Offensive Coordinator at Temple HS in Temple, TX. I sometimes took for granted the ability to be around my players everyday. Now that I am a Division 1 Football coach I spend so much time on the road recruiting and really miss the ability to work with my guys year round.

4. What is the most important thing you look for when hiring an offensive line coach? I want to know how well you develop players. As a former HS coach I spent the first 6 years of my career working with and molding whatever bodies walked through the door. Typically I was handed the guys that no other position coach wanted. I took an unbelievable amount of pride in turning those kids into All-District football players and Champions on the field.
5. When watching another offensive line play, what would they do that would make you think highly of that offensive line coach? I look for little things. Do they finish blocks? Do they finish around the football?Are the technically sound? Do they play well as a unit?

6. If you could meet any coach (living or dead) and talk to them for 1 hour who would it be and why? Nick Saban- I have always admired his ability to live up to and exceed sky high expectations year in and year out. I am always looking for new ways to motivate my guys and he is obviously one of the best in the business.

7. What’s the worst advice you hear the most that is given to offensive linemen or coaches? I think the one thing that sticks out most to me is coaches who push and push their guys to be “BIG”. High school kids who are being told they need to weigh 315 or 330 so they can play in college are being set up for failure. I could care less what a kid weighs when he’s in high school. I want to see his frame, his work ethic, his strength, technique and athleticism. We will get him where he needs to be weight wise once he steps on campus. This is much easier than having to trim a guy down for a year before we can build him back up the right way.

8. What has become more important to you in the last few years and what has become less important in coaching offensive line? Important- I think consistency in what we do has helped us achieve success on our Offensive Line at the University of Tulsa. My guys know our schemes, drills, practice expectations and performance standards like the back of their hand. I obviously adjust schemes and practice week to week but the overall standard they are held to never changes.
Less Important- Trying to be cute and installing new run schemes and drills each week. If you are always changing, what are you and your guys going to hang their hat on when the game is on the line?

9. What is the best or most worthwhile investment you’ve made in your coaching career? My willingness to move cities when an opportunity was presented to me.

10. Who comes to mind when you hear the term successful coach. Bill Belichick

11. Coaching is teaching, if you had to teach at a high school, what would you teach?Sr level Government/Economics

12. Who was your biggest mentor while you grew as a coach? Philip Montgomery- Recruited me out of high school to play for him, mentored me as a young HS coach and then hired me when I was ready to coach on his staff.

13. If you were only allowed to go in to a game with 3 run plays, what would they be? Inside Zone, Power, Outside Zone

14. What is your favorite football movie? Remember the Titans

15. What’s the best piece of advice that you have ever gotten? Stop worrying about whats next! Grow where you are planted!

16. If you were only allowed to use 2 run blocking drills the entire season, what would they be? Sled and Boards.

17. If you were only allowed to use 2 pass blocking drills the entire season, what would they be? 1 on 1 vs DL for live reps and a Man Set Drill that I use a few times a week.

18. If your child told you they were going into the coaching profession, for any sport at any level, what advice would you give them? Work Hard, Enjoy the process and Love what you do!

19. What type of music do you listen to when breaking down film? I don’t really listen to tunes when I’m watching tape. I enjoy some peace and quiet.

David Alexander – Importance of Coach Development and Lower-Level Experience

David Alexander is the head football coach at Broken Arrow and a former professional offensive linemen. He played ten seasons in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Jets. He played college ball at the University of Tulsa and was drafted in the fifth round of the 1987 NFL Draft.

He worked as an assistant coach for seven years at Jenks High School. In 2005-06, he was also head coach of the Tulsa Talons of the af2 arena football league. In 2013, he left Jenks to move to Broken Arrow, where had played and graduated in 1982, as the running backs coach. In January 2014 he was announced as Broken Arrow’s new head football coach.

Coach A is also one of my best friends in the coaching business. We have had the opportunity to share many moments together, some great, some very difficult. But I have always enjoyed our conversations about life and football because he has a great heart and great insight into many situations because of this unique education and experiences. He played for Buddy Ryan and Bill Muir (if you don’t know Bill Muir as an OL coach, sit in the corner for 5 minutes and think about the choices you have made in this life and then Google him). He had to block Reggie White and Jerome Brown on a daily basis in practice and then turn around to block Lawrence Taylor or Eric Swann on a Sunday or Monday night in front of millions of people. He has had more injuries than I can name, yet he managed to keep playing for 10 straight seasons in the toughest football league in the world at one of the most difficult positions.

I say these things because it would have been very easy for a guy like Coach A to be arrogant or unapproachable. To be above certain jobs. To be above coaching “lower level” football. He most certainly wasn’t. His first coaching job straight out of the NFL was in junior high ball, in addition to coaching his sons in JTA youth football.

One of the reasons we started working on Team Attack Academy and Run The Power is because of several conversations I had with Coach A and Coach Trimble. They were always mentioning how difficult it was to find GOOD middle school and high school coaches, especially young ones. I also couldn’t understand how some coaches were resistant to work or development in a job they supposedly loved very much. It baffled all of us.

I asked Coach A these three questions to sum up some of these thoughts about hiring coaches and developing coaches.

Why is it so difficult to find quality coaches at ALL LEVELS of your program (8th-Varsity)?

The biggest hurdle we face in Oklahoma is that we are ranked 49th in teacher pay. Good young coaches leave here for Arkansas or Texas, where they immediately receive a 30-40% raise.  And many young men coming out of college with a degree can get any job, in any field, and their starting pay will be $25,000+ what a teacher/coach will make in Oklahoma.

That being said, I have found it near impossible to find motivated, YOUNG coaches to take 8th/9th grade coaching jobs. The young coaches (almost everyone I have interviewed) will ONLY accept a varsity spot, and many want to be considered for coordinator spots.  My best Jr. High coaches are “Lifers” –  experienced, older varsity coaches that want to continue coaching but are ready to slow down from the grind of varsity football.

We ask our players to develop physically and mentally throughout their careers. Why are some coaches resistant to developing themselves to become better coaches, in your opinion?

This is a question that I have thought about a lot!

Developing and growing takes a long term plan, which means it takes time, and a certain amount of humility.

As a society right now, we think of TIME this way: if it doesn’t happen immediately, then I will just move on and find someplace else where I can get my satisfaction.

Being humble and working for the vision of the Head Coach or program is imperative. All motivated people think they can do as good or better than the Head Coach, and they have a vision of what they would do with a team. BUT NOTHING works (a team, a school, a society) if we do not learn from our superiors and teach our subordinates.

Do your job to the best of your ability, and you will be rewarded with opportunities for more responsibility. Humbling yourself to tasks that do not put the spot light on you may not build your ego, but I hope it builds your character and your self-esteem.

When I started coaching, I had just finished a ten year NFL career. The first four years I coached Jr. High football, one at the 9th grade and 3 more at the 8th grade. Looking back, I learned as much during those years as I did during the 6 years I worked for Allan Trimble at Jenks.

Why is it so important to develop professionally and personally as a coach?

I will NEVER hire a coach if he tells me, “I already have all the answers” or “I know everything.” We must all continue growing and learning, or we will fall hopelessly behind. As a head coach, I can tell pretty quickly which assistants LOVE their job and are sponges for knowledge. When I am looking for a varsity assistant now, my number one criteria that I want to hear in an interview is, “I love this job!”

 Follow Coach Alexander on Twitter @da_alex72 or @BATigersFootbal

JR Conrad

This week I am introducing a new format to the blog that I hope to bring back monthly. I am extremely fortunate to have made several connections with former offensive lineman, offensive line trainers and offensive line coaches throughout my playing and coaching career. I look up to these men and lean on them heavily in my coaching profession. In an attempt for me to gather even more information from the men that are at the top of there given profession, I decided to reach out to them and ask them if they would fill out a questionnaire. It is geared towards questions I had about offensive line and coaching in general. In this new “interview” format, I will introduce the guest that was generous with their time and knowledge to answer these questions for us. Then, I will get out of the way and let their answers do the talking by posting their answers with my questions. I hope you guys enjoy and get as much out of this as I have!!

JR Conrad – I first heard about JR from my dad several years ago. Dad knew JR and always talked very highly of him. He said that JR was an extremely tough guy and a great offensive lineman. JR started 46 games on the offensive line at the University of Oklahoma. He would then go on to get drafted by the New England Patriots.

It wasn’t until 3 years ago however, that I finally met JR. I was lucky enough to be asked by Loren Montgomery, the head football coach at Bixby High School, to help work his Eastern Oklahoma O-Line & D-Line camp. This camp has been around for many years and luckily for me, JR had become a yearly staple at this camp. For the last 3 years at this camp I’ve gotten the chance to sit back and watch JR coach high school offensive lineman and it was an amazing learning experience for me. It was unreal to me how he could get such a large buy in from a bunch of kids that he had just met. Also The amount of effort they were willing to give at his station was amazing. An extremely impressive thing to me is how willing he is to adapt to new and better technique. Every year I’m there I see him using a new toy from the Lecharles Bentley toolbox. If he sees a better way to do something he is willing and eager to adopt it into his players training. This is something that you don’t see very often from as decorated of an offensive lineman as JR was. He was after all, the first true freshmen to ever start at Center for the Sooners.

Watching him work with the kids and coach Offensive Line was extremely impressive! But the thing that truly blew me away was listening to him speak to the kids at the camp. If you have not had the chance to hear this man speak, you are missing out! He speaks of a brotherhood, of a love for the game and the position, and he speaks of his faith. Listening to JR for 10 minutes will have you ready to go in to battle, and call up your old teammates from high school all at the same time. You can tell that he is genuinely speaking from the heart and it’s what impresses me most about JR.

JR now works with Power Lift and trains some of the top offensive lineman in the Oklahoma City area at his Trench Mafia O-Line Academy. You can follow him on twitter @JRConrad64. Below are his responses to our “interview”.

 

Q1. What’s something you believe about the offensive line (or football) that the majority of your peers disagree with?

A1. 2 things O-Lineman need more than anything is toughness and staying power. I always hear how centers must be this quick, guards need to weight this much, and tackles need to be this tall; truth is all bodies are different torso length, arm length, barrel chest guy?  Size is awesome strength is a necessity that comes on a platform in a rack as you age in a program.  But tough guys who just keep working usually win jobs.

Q2. What was the most productive run play that you ran this year?  Why do think you ran it so well this year?

A2. I cannot answer this one running Trench Mafia is a bit different than game planning for a certain scheme or front.  But you know me and it would be counter of all kinds, huge fan of a double to backside with a puller.

Q3. If you could go back and give advice to yourself at 25 about coaching, what would it be?

A3. Never forget it’s a Coaches job to show young man what he can become, we all know what we are but don’t always see what we can become. Football will do more for the players than they will do for the game.   Last learn always learn so you can teach it better.

Q4. What is the most important thing you look for when hiring an offensive line coach?

A4. I have done this twice first time I hired a former player of mine that I trusted and he did a great job he knew how I did things and said things and he did a great job.  Next time hired a guy who never played a down of football but he had a health issue related to that and he loved ball, he was a manager a film guy a volunteer coach and he wanted to learn.  So I found myself relearning and teaching and then I would hear him present different and he did a great job.  Totally different worlds and both worked great.  Find a grinder for O-Line it’s a lot high numbers, a lot of props needed and got to keep guys moving.

Q5. When watching another offensive line play, what would they do that would make you think highly of that offensive line coach?

A5. For me it would start on film study I want to see that guys can do the 3 basic things alignment, assignment, execution so if the scheme makes sense to what and where guys are going that means they are taking film, or walk through to the field.  As an O-Lineman I want to see consistent stances, stagger, splits, body language after plays in the huddle, techniques from Indy periods carrying over? Of course EFFORT / FINISH.

Q6. If you could meet any coach (living or dead) and talk to them for 1 hour who would it be and why?

A6. I would have to say spend that hour with LeCharles Bentley. I have spent some time with him and I just feel like he is really on the forefront in unifying the island of misfit toys.   

Q7. What’s the worst advice you hear the most that is given to Offensive lineman or coaches?

A7. Just get out there and cut them off then punch how hard is that?  I hear this all the time frustrates me to no end specific skill for a specific task.  Must be very clear and detailed!

Q8. What has become more important to you in the last few years and what has become less important in coaching offensive line?

A8. Dialing in Skills Acquisition vs doing tons of ladders and foot work that doesn’t apply to our foot position at any time on the field.

Q9. What is the best or most worthwhile investment you’ve made in your coaching career?

A9. LeCharles newsletter,  access to articles, videos, 3D simulations, nutrition, equipment.

Q10. Who comes to mind when you hear the term successful coach?

A10. Allan Trimble Jenks Head Coach success at the highest level, kept balance between work and family, and his Coaches and Players rave about him as a Coach but mostly about the man. Humble and kind I truly admire him.

Q11. Coaching is teaching if you had to teach at a high school what would you teach?

A11. Classroom setting OK History being Native American great way to share some Indian culture with everyone. But probably would enjoy the weight room full time to share in the joy of hard work equals success.

Q12. Who was your biggest mentor while you grew as a coach?

A12. Charlie North been a great resource for all things from fund raising to day to day schedule and X’s & O’s

Q13. If you only allowed to go into a game with 3 run plays what would they be?

A13. Inside Zone / Power   / Counter

Q14. What book have or would you recommend most to Coaches?

A14. Energy Bus – Jon Gordon

Q15. What is your favorite football movie?

A15. Remember the Titans

Q16. What’s the best piece of advice that you ever gotten?

A16. If you are going to show your backside on the sidelines, you might as well wear see through pants.  Act right on the sidelines!

Q17. If you were only allowed to use 2 pass blocking drills the entire season, what would they be?

A17. Kick Plate slow / Tom Tom for speed

Q18. If your child told you they were going into the coaching profession, for any sport at any level, what advice would you give them.

A18. Grow thick skin, coach your personality, and then I would tell them how proud of them I am Coaches/Teachers impact lives.

Q19. What type of music do you listen to when breaking down film?

A19. Trench Mafia Sessions are known to rock a mix if the dudes are working they can control music, if not no tunes!

Jordan Johnson Interview

Jordan Johnson, Director of Strength and Conditioning at Jenks High School, NHSSCA State of Oklahoma Director (CPR, USAW, CSCCA)

Jordan is an Oklahoma native from Texhoma in the Oklahoma panhandle.  He graduated from Texas Tech in 2007 with a Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science and a Minor in Health.  Jordan’s professional certifications include Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCA), USA Weight Lifting Sports Performance Certified (USAW) and CPR.

Jordan has been a strength and conditioning professional for the past 10 years. * 2004: Texas Tech University: Strength & Conditioning Assistant, Olympic sports, under the guidance of strength coach Tory Stephens.  * 2005 & 2006: Texas Tech University: Intern Strength & Conditioning, football, under Head Strength Coach Bennie Wylie. * 2007: University of Arkansas: Graduate Assistant Strength & Conditioning, football, basketball & baseball, under Head Strength Coach Don Decker.  * 2008: University of Mississippi: Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach, football wide receivers, baseball, basketball and track, under Head Strength Coach Don Decker. * 2009: University of Texas El Paso: Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach, football, women’s soccer and softball, under Head Strength Coach Kirk Davis. * 2009: University of Texas El Paso: Head Strength & Conditioning Coach, men’s and women’s basketball. * 2011: University of Tulsa: Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach, football, men’s soccer and women’s volleyball under Head Strength Coach Rohrk Cutchlow. * 2012: Jenks High School: Director of Strength and Conditioning, football and all varsity sports.

I have known Jordan since 2011 during our time at Tulsa University. We were able to really work together starting in 2012 when we were back at Jenks HS, and his influence on that program led to state titles in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. In my humble opinion, Jordan is the best strength coach in the nation. His foundational knowledge of training is impressive and evolving each time I talk to him. What separates Jordan from many strength coaches is his character and his ability to establish relationships and develop leadership and maturity within the players he works with. Athletes and coaches alike respect and value his opinion because he truly cares about every individual within a program. Jordan gets the most out of his athletes, and I am forever grateful for his friendship and expertise because he is a true BALL COACH.

I had the opportunity to ask Jordan a few questions to help your off season program this winter and beyond.

What are your goals for football athletes during this phase?

We have two blocks that run from January through Spring Break (early March) and testing in April. This is a great opportunity for our kids to gain size and strength, as we are not trying to be in football shape this time of year. Our ultimate goal at Jenks for the winter/spring offseason is discipline and accountability and creating a constant environment of competition. We only get 6-7 weeks in the summer, and much of that is focused on conditioning, as well as all the other aspects of speed, power, and strength. Our spring phase is crucial for establishing our Jenks culture with current and incoming freshman football players.

What are some strategies you use to train your multi-sport athletes who are playing basketball or wrestling?

Obviously the multi-sport kids require some adjustments as far as their training goes, especially with basketball and wrestling being in-season. As far as the exercises go, we still do full power clean and squat, back and front, with both groups. The volume will be low, but the intensity will be high for both sports staying around 80% and up for most of their in-season, allowing those athletes to still get stronger. I am not a huge fan of “sport-specific” training in the weight room. All sports need to triple extend, push, and pull, so we will look very similar across all our sports in the weight room. As far as conditioning, speed, and COD drills, those will closely mirror their sport.

How often does your program run and condition during the week in this phase?

Our football offseason has two blocks: one 6 week block with a deload during week 7, and the second block is 8 weeks with testing during the 8th week. The first block we will not be conditioning very much, usually once a week, but most of that conditioning will be of a competitive nature. The 2nd block we will condition twice a week. One of those will involve competition and one will be normal conditioning. I like our kids to be in great shape by the end of the 2nd block because after testing we will be very close to spring ball and summer team camps.

We always have Speed Technique 1x per week and Agility/COD 1x per week, so we are running 3x or 4x per week depending on the block.

What is one improvement you feel any program can make during the off-season that may often be overlooked?

One of the most underrated football improvements that I feel can be made in the offseason is creating a T.E.A.M. Environment. For us at Jenks that acronym means Together Everyone Achieves More.
Everyone is going to get bigger stronger and faster in the offseason. To me, the difference can be finding your leaders through competition and responsibility. Find out who is bought in and who just is along for the ride. Find out how your players respond to adversity, and, most importantly, find out who will fight and work for their teammates. To me if all you learn about your team in the offseason is who is the biggest and strongest, then you really aren’t learning anything about your team.