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Introducing the TDG Football Seminar

A Deeper Dive into Football

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Unlike many of the writers on this blog, I am not what you would call an elite football mind. My knowledge of what is happening on the field more or less devolves into confusingly yelling about #RUTM while wondering what happened to the bottle of bourbon that used to be in the liquor cabinet.

To that end, it occurred to me that I might not be the only person who after muting all commentators not named Beth Mowins (Golden I forever) has no real idea what's happening on a given play. I don't know the terminology, and it takes me far longer than it should to identify what side is the boundary and what side is the field.

This may be by design. Far more than just about any other sport, the actual machinations of a football play are rather complex. Think about a run up the middle. There's the pre-snap reads by the quarterback and center, signalling the offensive line, shifts and motions to confuse or force the defense to give away their coverage, multiple blocks, and reading gaps. All of that happens before the running back returns to the line of scrimmage.

Most of the time, the average viewer will not be aware of any part of this ballet. Most television and radio coverage is focused on discrete events. The announcers will tell you it was a running play to the right for 4 yards, but rarely more than that. The fan is left to sort that out at home, sometimes in an alcoholic haze. There should at least be some options available to gain a better understanding.

For that reason, TDG (led by me) is introducing a Football Seminar this season. By seminar, I mean the academic sense of a conversation relating to a specific subject. For the fall, this is going to be football strategy. We, that is whoever else wants to follow along with me, will be reading the same set of books and talking about it each Monday. Since I am not an expert, I'm conceiving of this as much as a learning opportunity for me as for everyone else. I sincerely hope that commenters with lots of experience in the game and those with little will each participate. GopherNation will appreciate the comments.

How Does it Work?

This part is easy. Each Monday, I will have a post up talking about a reading or series of readings. That post will clearly state what's been read, and what's on tap for next week. In addition, I'll link to blogs devoted to the strategy of the game because in case it was not obvious by now, I'm not an expert.

Reading? We Have to Read?

That's one aspect. I'll look for many videos and gifs to supplement the topics. You are free to chime in on topics you personally know about or would like to bring about without doing any reading.

Fine. I accept that the written word can be used to illuminate. What are we reading?

The first two books on our list are both by Chris B. Brown, The Essential Smart Football and The Art of Smart Football. Both books are under $10 bucks in paperback, and are available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble but maybe not the super cool indie bookstore. The books may be at your local library. My hunch is that most of the chapters have appeared in his other material if you'd rather not purchase them. I'll link to those posts if I can.

I picked these books to start for two reasons. First, the cost. Second, Brown is widely considered by other football writers to be an excellent commentator with a faculty for distilling complex concepts into understandable chunks.

Each of his books are relatively short, so we will be taking them a few chapters at a time. I'm going to start with The Essential Smart Football. For next Monday, we'll be looking at Chapters 1, 2, 6, and 7.

They are about: