Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Interview with PA's Kevin Kelley

Kevin Kelley, the head coach at Pulaski Academy, was interviewed on his views on the value of 7-on-7 competitions.

Arkansas Football Bloggers (AFB): What do you think are the most positive aspects of 7-on-7 football competitions?

Kevin Kelley (KK): 7 on 7 is important for many reasons. It is fantastic for developing competition and teaching kids how respond in adverse situations and times. It is good for the players to be together. It is a time for the upcoming seniors to develop leadership and for the coaches to determine who the leaders are going to be for the team from the skill positions. It is also a valuable evaluation tool.

AFB: How important is 7-on-7 for a team like Pulaski Academy that relies so heavily on the passing game?

KK: 7 on 7 is very important not only on offense, but on defense. Looking at our schedule this year, 7 of the 10 teams we play run a spread type offense. So our defense will see this the majority of the time this year. There are many different types of spread offenses and this gives us the opportunity to work against each, try some stuff out on defense, and work some time to evaluate our kids.

Offensively, it allows us to work on our timing and get our QB used to playing with the receivers that will be taking some graduating receivers places. We use it as a teaching tool as well to learn for each player to recognize coverages and how to adjust their routes to each. It also allows us to try different things on offense and helps make a determination on whether we want to install them for the fall season.

I think even if we were not a “passing” team, we would still attend 7 on 7 tournaments. It also puts the kids in competitive situations. I place a high value on competition and teaching kids to compete.

AFB: Can you tell us if there are any negative aspects of the 7-on-7 season?

KK: I see a lot more positives than negatives. The kids are playing football, getting work, and spending time together. These are all productive. The only possible negative would be risking injury. But kids are risking injury all summer mowing lawns, working, and going to the lake.

AFB: Do 7-on-7 competitions and the spread passing attack over-emphasize the importance of skill position players to a team's success?

KK: I don’t think so at all, especially for spread teams. I think teams that don’t have the biggest kids up front equalize the game somewhat if they spread the field. At that point, you better be able to throw and catch and know how to work in space. So, 7 on 7 is just working towards exactly what needs to be accomplished during the summer. I think maybe the best answer would be, 7 on 7 simply highlights the skill positions because the lines are removed so their will be an easier visual on the skill positions.

AFB: How do you find ways to recognize the guys in the trenches doing the work that too often isn't recognized in the paper?

KK: It’s somewhat cliché and I think that the media is doing a better job of recognizing them, especially in college. Look at Jonathan Luigs. He is pretty much the poster boy for the Razorbacks now that McFadden is gone. But, we do impress the importance of our linemen to our entire team constantly. We also educate our skill guys that when they get a chance to speak to any type of media, to recognize the linemen and try to specifically mention names if at all possible. We also stress to our offensive skill people to mention the job that our defense does to get the ball back for them. I mention them personally at the beginning of conversations with the media. I know they want to hear about the skill guys so they will get that at the end while still paying attention.

AFB: Do you see any potential problems or conflicts on the horizon in either 7-on-7 or high school football in general?

KK: The potential problem I see with 7 on 7 came up this year. There was a two week “dead period” that was instituted by member schools of the AAA and the timing of it has made it difficult for many people to schedule 7 on 7 events. The reduction in number of tournaments, or overlapping tournaments because of the dead period has limited how many a school can attend. We are only going to two tournaments this year when we have attended 5 the last couple of years.

AFB: Is there anything else you would like to say about either 7-on-7 or high school football?

KK: Coaching high school football is a fantastic job for the most part. I don’t know what else I would do in life if not for that. 7 on 7 has become a separate season of its own and a great time for coaches to spend time with their kids in a competitive setting while finding time to develop a rapport with the upcoming kids in their programs. I hope it continues to flourish because in addition to all the things we have mentioned in the interview, it is helping our kids become better football players and allowing more scholarship opportunities to kids that might not have gotten them. A college coach who had some research recently told me that Arkansas produced more division one football players per capita than any other state. If that is true, I think 7 on 7 played a part in that.

AFB: Coach Kelley, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Good luck this summer and next season!

1 comment:

  1. Nice interview. It sounds like Coach Kelley and his staff have thought a lot about this stuff.