Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cowboys unveil "Wildcat" offense with new name

CARROLLTON -- The Dallas Cowboys unveiled the "Wildcat" offense during organized team activities Thursday at Standridge Stadium.

Except for one thing: they don’t call it the "Wildcat", they call it the "Razorback" in Dallas in paying homage to running back Felix Jones, who helped make the offense famous in college as a member of the Arkansas Razorbacks.

The Wildcat or Razorback is a variation of the single wing offense that features an unbalanced line. Receiver Patrick Crayton served as the quarterback in the Cowboys’ version of the Razorback, recalling his roots as an option quarterback at Northwestern Oklahoma State.

Jones, however, will be the team’s primary weapon in the Razorback as it offers them another way to get him the ball and use his speed on the edge.

"Man, it was great," Jones said. "It brought back old memories. It's just the first day. I believe we can get a lot better at it. You'll see a lot more of it, I'm hoping, when the time comes."

The Cowboys are not going to do too much of anything that takes ball out of the hands of Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo, Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said.

But he allowed that the off-season is the time to experiment and see if it’s something the Cowboys can use or defend, considering the number of team’s who have implemented the formation.

"We want to look at that and be prepared for it defensively and offensively and maybe have some options in that area," Phillips said. “We will see if it goes any further than that. It depends on what we can do. If we feel like we can utilize and do some things from it and still help our offense or at least look at it defensively and come up with some schemes to stop it, this is the time to work at it."

Fort Worth Star-Telegram


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Aldrich was more than just a coach

Wednesday, June 3, 2009 12:01 PM CDT

CEDAR FALLS --- John Aldrich, Sr., played many roles during his 85 years --- teacher, coach, athlete, author, friend, mentor, husband and parent.

The people who knew Aldrich agree on one thing --- he was a singular man.

Aldrich, a legendary sports fixture in the Cedar Valley for over a half-century, died Monday at home from natural causes. He was 85 years old.

"He was a class act and a classic act," said his daughter, Deborah Hodge.

"He was one of a kind," said Pat Mitchell, a friend of Aldrich and the head football coach at Cedar Falls High School. "It's the passing of a legend - I'll tell you that. He was larger than life."

Bob Lee was a student teacher under Aldrich at NU High in 1971. He worked with him as a faculty member and fellow coach for the Panthers over the ensuing 15 years.

"There's a hole in the athletic world," said Lee, the former track and cross country coach at NU and now an instructor at Northern Iowa. "Whether anyone can fill that, I doubt it."

A native of Providence, R.I, Aldrich played football and basketball at the University of Rhode Island. In fact, he competed in the 1944 National Invitational Tournament with his alma mater.

Eleven years later, Aldrich landed in Cedar Falls, becoming NU's head football coach and a physical education instructor.

He remained there for 31 years, retiring in 1986. Along the way, he also led the Panthers' tennis, track and baseball programs and worked as athletic director. A boys' track meet, the Aldrich Relays, is named in his honor.

Aldrich's work on the gridiron brought him national attention - as a writer. Aldrich was the author of "Single Wing Offense with the Spinning Fullback," published in 1983. Sports Illustrated mentioned the book in a 2008 story that chronicled the formation's rebirth.

"He was truly a dyed-in-the-wool single-wing coach," Mitchell said. "In his mind, there was no other way."

A member of the Iowa High School Coaches Hall of Fame, Aldrich posted a 120-49 record from 1955 to 1976 on the football field His sons, Steve and John, played for him.

"Dad was just very competitive," Steve Aldrich said. "He played the ballgame the way you should."

John Aldrich, Jr. recalled that his father/coach played it seven days a week. Sunday nights, his young assistant coaches, most of whom were football players at Northern Iowa, would drop by. Down to the basement they went to work on the game plan.

"Those are great memories," said Aldrich, Jr.

John Aldrich's son also said his father had perspective on his role.

"People always said what a great coach he was and this and that," said John Aldrich, Jr. "My dad's reply was, 'It's not the coach who makes the kids, it's the kids who make the coach.' He looked forward every day to getting up and going over to work with youth. He loved it. He just loved it when he coached."

Aldrich touched people in many ways beyond Xs and Os, touchdowns and match points.

Lee can remember walking into NU High early on a school day and hearing Aldrich singing.

"A lot of people didn't know that side of John," Lee said. "He was so big and gruff on the outside. Inside, he had a heart of gold".

And a personality that glittered.

"He just had a way," Mitchell said. "When he walked in a room, you knew the coach was there.

"Everybody from NU High to UNI people to Cedar Falls people knew him and liked him. He was an unbelievable personality and an unbelievable sports figure."

Services for John Aldrich, Sr. are scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at Nazareth Lutheran Church.

Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Waterloo, IA,


Monday, June 1, 2009

Should The Wildcat Pounce More This Season?

The biggest catch word of the '07-'08 NFL season was "Spygate."

The catch word for '08-'09 was "Wildcat."

The Wildcat offense, a variation of the single wing offense that your grandfather used to run in high school, baffled defenses last season for some long runs and big scores for the Dolphins.

Essentially, Ronnie Brown sets up as quarterback, Ricky Williams stands next to him and Chad Pennington assuming the role of a wide receiver. On the snap, Brown tucks the ball into Williams' gut while reading the line and defense. Then—like any NFL running back would—takes the ball back and tries to make something happen.

There were a lot of potential reasons for this: Maybe Pennington wanted a play from the wide receivers' view or maybe Brown had himself in his fantasy football league.

Whatever the reason, Brown usually does make something happen. No one stopped it until Baltimore did wild card weekend of the AFC playoffs—a 27-9 blowout won by the Ravens at Dolphins Stadium.

It's hard to recall all the downs and distances the formation was used but the simple truth is this; no matter how many times the opposing defense seeing it on tape, they still have to stop it.

But throw in a mobile quarterback, giving him these two offensive horses in Brown and Williams then someone who can find the open spot in the field for a 8-25 yard pass and every play can be a Wildcat play.

The upside to the Wildcat from last year is it put the ball directly into your playmaker's hands. The downside was it took the ball out of Pennington's—the most underrated quarterback in the NFL.

The upside to the Wildcat this year is that you have Pat White who can run this thing and still spread the ball around, However, the same downside happens.

This offense can be effective and the coaching staff knows how to get a lot out of it. I'm leery of the chance to get too greedy with it. Keep it controlled and used more for 4-7 yard off-tackle runs and it won't hurt your team.

The Wildcat can only do two things this year: Be just as productive as last season, or fizzle. I'd be crazy to suggest the later, but I feel the surprise factor is gone so I can't really pick the former.

Only time will tell if the Wildcat should pounce this year.

Bleacher Report