Manny Matsakis

Episode 3: AJ Smith (Houston Roughnecks, XFL)

Interview with AJ Smith

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The third episode of The Manny Matsakis Show features an interview with A.J. Smith, the receiver coach of the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks. This show was recorded in the spring of 2019 before A.J. was on June Jone’s staff in Houston. Topics in this show range from virtual reality coaching of quarterbacks, to the various influences of Coach Smith’s career and ultimately to some discussion of the Run and Shoot offense.

Make sure to check out Episode 1 and Episode 2!

Episode 3: AJ Smith (Houston Roughnecks, XFL)

Summary: Manny Matsakis Show episode number three features XFL receivers’ coach and longtime friend AJ Smith. Listen below to see how Coaches Matsakis and Smith have seen success with the Run & Shoot Offense in each of their own coaching careers and truly optimized their opportunities with this unique style of play.

Coach Manny Matsakis: This is the Manny Matsakis show with me Manny Matsakis, where you will gain insight on how to win on the field and optimize your life. This is episode number three. Today we're going to interview AJ Smith. AJ Smith is a football coach and entrepreneur extraordinaire. He has most recently been the receiver’s coach of the undefeated XFL Houston Roughnecks. They were 5-0 so you know, very rare in professional football to go undefeated until the coronavirus basically shut down sports as we know it in the United States. Coach Smith has a lot of connections, he's worked with some really good people. I mean June Jones most recently as it was, he was the head coach of the Houston Roughnecks. He's worked with Hal Mumme. He spent quite a bit of time with some great coaches in his career. Let's take a look at an interview I did with him in my office. It was last spring of 2019 when he came to Defiance, Ohio to visit on a few things…

Coach Manny Matsakis: Welcome to the Manny Matsakis show and today I have a special guest for you that in many ways is a kindred spirit with myself primarily because we both have a very good friend by the name of Jason Phillips and Jason is not only the best receiver coach I've ever seen, but he is also in the ring of honor at the University of Houston and has had some great jobs coaching, and he's just a wonderful guy, that my guest today was introduced to me simply like, “Hey you got to meet this guy” and a few years ago he was young but now he's 30 years old and extremely experienced and in the world of coaching football and I would like to introduce to you Austin James Smith. How's it going AJ?

Coach AJ Smith: Going pretty good, thanks for having me man. It’s gonna be a fun deal. Enjoying the camera angles that are gonna get all the action of this.

Manny : Yeah, it's gonna be fun! I mean that the thing about this is, one thing I can really appreciate about you right now is you are very humble, you really get the game, you've been working with a lot of masters of the game, and where a lot of guys I see out there and it is not even by age but, but it just happens to be some younger guys they get out there and they're so locked into me, me, me and they don't really get like, the path to mastery comes by making sure you're focusing in the proper direction and you have really focused on a few things and really, I'm just so impressed and have always been impressed. What are the things you think about the most when you wake up in the morning and you know you want to focus on what? What is it really that gets you excited to wake up every day?

AJ: I think that it’s just getting better specifically when you're with the team. How can you get you... cause we all as coaches, if we can tell our players what we know we’d all be champs you know? State champions, national champions or whatever it is. How can I impose my will, my attitude, my desire or love for the game to my players to feel that same exact way?Because I know if I could be in someone’s shoes that are talented enough at Quarterback to throw it sixty/ seventy yards or something like that I'll be up like the mamba mentality like Kobe Bryant wrote out, which I love. You know? Like why aren’t you up at 3 or 4am getting extra practices in that day as opposed to the guy that you’re gonna play which is only getting one. It's only an amount of time before it’s not comparable that you’re the best in the world. So, I just think that waking up, how to get an edge. But more so, how can I get this to my players because at the end of the day the guy that has to go execute… it’s not me, I’m not the one who throws. It’s the players so you know, right time and place with the right people to make them better.

Manny: Yeah, I can certainly understand that and… and it's in many ways I like to say, “Hey this guy’s really wise beyond his years because there's so many times”. Like I can personally attest to this. I was in Emporia State around your age as a head coach at a Division II school. Did it really young and I was into so many things. I was all over the place, now I had a focus with my offense per say but I had so many other things going on and I think when you, you know looking at you, it reminds me a little bit of some of the stuff I did. Because you have other things going on but the beauty of it is, it all ties together in that one direction all focus towards coaching football. I mean tell us a little bit about a few of the things you have going on that inspire you to keep on the path toward mastery of coaching.

AJ: Yeah, it's all pointed in one direction and I think It's easy to get that way as a coach as long as you stay true to yourself. You know there’s coaches out there just job chasing and they’re going from “Wishbone”, to “Spread”, to “West Coast”. You know? You’re not getting to know who you are and who your identity is going to be. In 2010, I was kind of that way, I had six different offenses in, I thought I was a genius but we were know of all, and a master of none. I mean it was 2010 and I’ll never forget when I was looking at the film and I was like, “Man I have 2 great slots! What offense can I run?” and I’m googling on the internet right as YouTube is becoming something and I saw the Houston Gamblers with the quick motion and I saw just the boom, boom, boom half roll outs and I learned what the run and shoot was. And that year we blew it up. Throwing for four hundred to five hundred-yard games, breaking national records and I said, “I love this!” And so ever since that moment, I said everything is pointing here so I immediately started going from there to June Jones at SMU in the spring practices because I wanted to know and see everything they were doing.

Manny: Oh, you didn't just like go download a Run & Shoot playbook and had it all figured out?

AJ: I'm not gonna look at the mother's basement playbooks that are out there you know? This was hands on experience, and luckily my biggest mentor in coaching at the beginning was Johnny Booty because he’s known me since I was one years old.

Manny: Oh okay.

AJ: Has a son my age, played college football at John Jenkins University of Arkansas. So, when I said run shoot he said, “Oh, one of my great buddies is John Jenkins.” So I asked if I could get his phone number? And that’s how that relationship got started. I’d call him once a week and I mean that all led to that great year that I had because SMU took one of my receivers that led the state. And so, from that point on, everything... Run and Shoot, throwing the football. It got me pointed toward air raid as well because it’s all the same thing because we’re gonna pass to set up the run. That’s pretty much it. So, schemes, that’s gonna be our identity. So now, with everything that’s going on, besides just the coaching aspect, you know I've created a tool with virtual reality geared toward the quarterback to make him better. Right? And more specifically it’s making him throw better. So, he can see the coverages, so he can see leverage, he can see Green grass windows. Anything to make the quarterback better, this is it. This is geared toward what I want. You know, I host the one back clinic and bring that out for collaboration of great coaches from all over the nation that come to talk about throwing the football, now we bring that one coach in to talk about running the football. So, you know the other coaches are happy about it but specifically, you know, hey all touchdown passes. And so yeah those are a few things.

Manny: Yeah, and they'll stack in the right direction, I think that's the beauty of this because there's a certain Synergy I think regardless of what you're into as a coach. If you can stack everything in the right direction you will gain momentum and I always look at it as you know, the analogy I always give our coaches is, you know you look at this wheel, this concept of this deal you know this much right and as long as you're focused in the right direction and you get more knowledge and it's all really focused the wheel gets bigger right, as it starts to go down the hill it starts getting more momentum and it's like it's a runaway train. I think one time it was on USA today, the old newspaper you know when we used to read those things. I remember there was a quote by John Jenkins, and it was after one of their games he said “This offense is a runaway train” so I was like it's bizarre that I remember that just now and it's like if you want to make your life in coaching a runaway train you stay focused on what you wanna do and make sure that you try to eliminate as many things and say no to things that really don't put you in the direction you wanna go to. Have you had to say no to a few things?

AJ: Yeah, I mean certain jobs that aren't in my best interest to go run a different style scheme, that’s not geared toward what I want to be. I think in coaching you do create an identity and who you are, and so you know, here I am trying to get on this path to be an OC, to be some of these mentors we’ve mentioned and to get on their path, but here’s a job that pays 40,000 more than what I’m making to go be a tight end coach in a West Coast offense. It’s just, you know not being true to myself.

Manny: Yeah but it is tough to say no right?

AJ: It’s money but I’m gonna be miserable you know?

Manny: Yeah.

AJ: Yeah so, it’s come up.

Manny: It's interesting as you say that you know, I know The first, well we had not met yet at this point but I was coaching at the Bethany college in Kansas at the time, at an NAIA school and that year I took the job, you had taken an OC job in our conference and I thought oh that's pretty good and we didn't know each other that point. Yeah, we did not know each other and I just remember, maybe you emailed, me we had some dialogue? There was something there maybe through... just something happened that we had some connection right and then you left.

AJ: Mm-hmm

Manny: Before the season ever started, and we had a conversation, I want you to be transparent about it as you walked into a situation. How old were you then?

AJ: Twenty-Four.

Manny: 24 years old going to be an offensive coordinator in college at 24 years old and you said, “This isn't for me.” Alright and just tell us why you made that decision.

AJ: Well it was tough you know? Being young-

Manny: Tell the truth.

AJ: Yeah, ha-ha

Manny: I want to know it all

AJ: I mean it was simple. I thought it was gonna get restricted with what I could do.

Manny: In what way?

AJ: And just hey we're gonna use a tight end here. I started getting in some plays and stuff that's going to happen and I was just like man you know this you know if I'm not gonna… I'm moving from my home in Louisiana, never left the state before coming to Kansas and just two years ago I knew what worked and I knew how I got on the path I wanted to and then I spent a few days and you know the realization of NAIA started hitting me a little bit of the rules. I realized I wasn’t gonna have my quarterback all summer and you know camp was two weeks before your first deal. I just didn't know any of that stuff at 24 because I'd been at Northwestern State and U of Lafayette. And so it just hit me, I don't think you know the head coaches offense in, and my offense and there's not enough time to do all that and this was like man this isn't gonna be it I'm gonna go back and continue my GA ship at U of Lafayette.

Manny: Yeah so I mean it's interesting because most guys would say, here's an opportunity, I don't care I'm gonna make a name for myself and you walked away and you basically stayed the path because I have seen so many times a coach gets out there and deals exactly with that and I think some guys are built one way and they can handle give me all this input even if it you know, I will- what was the word? I remember some guys saying it was like you know I'll just figure it out and we'll morph my offense into what you want. You know? That kind of thing and I've never seen anybody really successful at the highest levels doing that. It's always like somebody it's appeasing somebody that maybe they're their boss.

AJ: Mm-hmm

Manny: And I think that that makes it difficult because it makes it tough to wake up probably makes it tough to sleep at night that had to be a very difficult time for you to go through that process

AJ: Mm-hmm. It was short-lived. I mean I was out of there probably it was less than a week.

Manny: Yeah

AJ: And you know it's kind of, you go through an interview process and you're told you're gonna get a bunch of things and then you show up and it's not what it's promised and what helped there too you know I hadn't signed the contract. I was testing the water seeing how it was gonna be and then you know what was gonna be summer workouts aren't there at all and it wasn't what its gonna you know what the painted picture was shown to me to get the job yeah so yeah you know it ain't it and then just got to you know?

Manny: Yeah stay the path! And I think if you have the right purpose you can certainly help you make the right directions I mean that's whatever your purpose is I think the motto of all this story is like find a way to get in the direction where you want to go you may be adjusting the path along the way as you see some things no and that's totally fine I can appreciate that because I've seen some guys that have done that you know.I think what's interesting also about AJ is you have been able you know you talked about hey you get John Jenkins's phone number right and then you build that relationship and your friends to this day and you know you've gotten a chance to be around him and really get some insights that even guys that have coached with him never got because I know he's been very private in the ways that he used to install the offense even you know it's like I know guys that have coached with him. I don't personally know John I could just I know guys that have coached with him were like oh well the receivers know this the backs know this the line knows this but none of them ever all know everything it was just him and you've been able to tap into the mind of one of the geniuses of our game regardless of what anybody sees you look statistically very few guys have done what John has done. And you’ve been able to tap into that by building a good relationship. And to get information that you can use for your benefit. So How could a young guy that’s out there you know, anybody young coach maybe it could be a guy in his 50s/60s. It wants to get into something and find a way to do that how in the world can somebody do that I mean it literally could be anything it could be like oh hey I love what army does you know how can I get involved in that so I could start in the path toward mastery in that so what are some tips advice you may give somebody?

AJ: I think timing is big you know the to try to go, you know Dabo Swinney, be your mentor right now you know, that's tough but in timing and then being genuine with it because people like John Jenkins and anybody that's ever put a dent in the game. They get hit up by everybody and you know when I was calling him I called him to say, I want to learn the run and shoot at that point anybody you're trying to meet is kind of screening you. Who are these guys? Just is he wanting just my information? Is he really gonna use it? You know is this guy saying he wants to learn this and then he looks at his film he's in the I, running the power. You know there's some I don't know if ego but you know there's some I want to those guys want to feed in the people they're actually going to do what they tell them and so this hit it off with less than knowing John for about a year because we met, I got the coach an all-star game with them which we won 63-13 but there in that time because he called me up, “Hey come do this all-star game with me in Little Rock”! I was calling them every week once a week I put it in my make sure calendar I was gonna call coach once a week and I had went to a website that sent me all to Houston gamblers film and so this was before YouTube and so I was watching DVDs of each game side column each game “Hey coach do you remember this play you called in 1985”? And, you know “Why was Clarence doing this”? “Why was Richard”? And he loved that because it this kind of circled him and now he’s remember things he had forgotten and again it was genuine I really wanted to learn and so then you know that year I was offensive coordinator again and I send them to tape for when we threw for five touchdowns in one quarter and you know he's seeing choice reality. Seeing things, he's taught me he's like oh yeah and so yeah ten years later you know he's like a dad to me.

Manny: Yeah, I can see that I mean and you've always spoken very highly of coach Jenkins and I think that's it's interesting because you know our mutual friend Jason Phillips you know played for him. You know and it's interesting you know I get a player's perspective and he certainly respects John and you know and I just you know just it's funny how a guy like coach Jenkins has been able to influence so many people but yet when you really look at it there's just a handful guys that I bet that he can really trust and truly open up to and some of those guys are as former players and you certainly you know have been able to do that with him. Let's shift gears a little bit and we'll stay in the run-and-shoot path okay because... that's you know, and I don't know if you agree with this but it's interesting, the run and shoot is a type of offense that, there's a lot of people that really like to study it. I'm sure it's all over the internet and all these types of things because if you search or Google it's you're gonna get all kinds of stuff on there right but there's very few people that really know it, that really understand it and there's certain things that oh well there's variations but we had an interesting conversation the other day you'd say well if you're gonna be running shoot you must be able to do this you know in your estimation of a give us your definition of what you believe somebody that is you would consider hey this is a run-and-shoot guy.

AJ: I think the first and foremost thing is dedicating to 10 personnel because that's what the whole crazy they don't have it tied in and game and so some people get lost and not wanting to put in Tight end and everything so I think 10 personnel and then I think the second thing to really be a run-and-shoot team. You want to use that you know is your team name like any other offenses is the half roll out and whether it's angle drop but you're going to move the pocket as a basis maybe you know have some quick game and you flip and rip or three-step drop. You know that's all here and there but you know it's a base you're gonna move the pocket with your protection. I think those are two critical now one that's kind of evolved this I used to think you know hey you primarily need the run from its purest form which is under center which I think operates the best out of and you know but you know June and those guys have gotten to the gun and that was one of the first things they did the red gun and Coach

Glanville made them get back there but there's a lot of Merit to still being under Center which they would mix up primarily for your run game so if you're doing two of those three things, I think you can definitely label yourself run and shoot.

Manny: Oh yeah I mean that makes a bunch of sense I mean the more you think about it because there's so many and I like it just Google run-and-shoot offense football run and shoot and you're gonna see guys and then when I turn their film I'm like what in the world it's nowhere near it have you ever run into that?

AJ: I think a big misconception is hey I put an option out in I'm Run & Shoot. Well West Coast often says option routes Bill Walsh was doing it you know house doing it mics they all have some type of option route in run and shoot let's go back to the basis of Tiger Ellison you know we're you know let's look what that really means and you know it's not it you know you know this is a big misconception that's all it takes is an option route.

Manny: Yeah you know yeah you're right you bring up Tiger Ellison you know and that's interesting that you brought his name up and I don't know if we've ever had these conversation but it's like when I was at Kansas State and I had finished my master's and started my doctorate okay and I was coaching for Bill Snyder and my doctorate, the dissertation was on the history and evolution of the run-and-shoot offense in American Football.

AJ: Mm-hmm

Manny: And it was in the school of curriculum and instruction at k-state so I'm studying this stuff and I go literally on a path and I go to Middletown Ohio I meet this newspaper guy named Jerry Nardiello he ran the Middletown newspaper and he starts giving me all this stuff didn't use paper articles on Tiger Ellison and all this stuff and at a time I didn't even know if he was alive or what the story was any of this kind of stuff and lo and behold he's living in Center City Florida, alright and he gets me his phone number so I call coach Ellison and we end up spending hours on the phone I take a plane trip down to meet him in Center City back then was a retirement community where he was and he brings out his film which was a film like you like some of my age would think film you know the canisters of film it was what he's called celluloid. Okay, which was the real tiny the eight millimeter film was what they had and he had he was showing me and this stuff would bubble up and you know it was old you know from when he was at Middletown High School and it created the Run-and-Shoot offense. Now it's a great book, everybody should read his book if you're interested in it and there are applications even to this day if you go back to the original run and shoot stuff because that's where Mouse got the inspiration to create his version of the run and shoot and I can remember Tiger telling me said you know what you know Mouse he just loves to pass the ball all the time you know but in the original run and shoot it was an offense that as Mouse used to say you pick your poison it was it was 50/50 potential of run and pass and for the first three steps of the Quarterback, the defense should not know if you're going to run or pass the football. That was the run and shoot. Now, obviously it started with this lonesome polecat and then in the offseason he created the gangster series the Cowboy. Here's all this stuff from that and it was awesome to hear him talk about it and something that a lot of people that I certainly did not know is a lot of people never knew about him was he had so much success there man he was a great public speaker and he gets hired by the most runningest coach around, which is Woody Hayes.

AJ: Yeah

Manny: And he became an assistant for Woody Hayes and he was the brain coach at Ohio State which was like the academic guy and he was like a confidant to coach Hayes and so he made a statement to me in Florida and he goes you know what when I had Rex Kern I'm thinking Rex Kern hold on the quarterback at Ohio State in 1969 when Ohio State beat USC Southern Cal and they had OJ Simpson for the national championship. He goes, “I had three touchdowns in that game were run and shoot plays”. I'm thinking like you know at that point Tiger’s older maybe he's who knows I got to verify this so he tells me I think the ad was Jim Jones or something at Ohio State and he says you tell him to get you the film so I wrote a letter because back then the internet wasn't there right so I literally wrote a letter to the athletic director at Ohio State right? And I said look I coach Ellison wanted me to ask for that season of the Ohio State season a couple weeks go by I'm at Kansas State here's this package from Ohio State and a letter back from the athletic director and a buddy of mine who I ended up coaching with, Dana Demo is there and he sees Ohio State he's from Columbus Ohio. Upper Arlington High School where Jack Nicholas went to school right the Golden Bears right so he looks at Ohio State and goes there's no way what is this you know and I remember he opened the letter up and he sees the ad signature and he like licks his thumb and goes this is just a you know stamp and he it was a real like he had an autograph the let you know sign the letter and it was like oh my goodness what is in here so we start cracking the VHS tapes and start looking through the film and lo and behold it was like here's the gangster series all this stuff was in there and Rex Kern they won a national championship at Ohio State then and Woody loved it just was really more of a downhill ground-and-pound type of offense but it was his way to change things up and it was just awesome there's like most people don't know that that actually happened at Ohio State with Coach Ellison influencing him so I know a pretty neat deal I mean did you know that?

AJ: No I didn’t and you know when I first got into it, that was the first book I purchased just not knowing anything like I found it through Google hey this is the this is where it originated or it's just kind of like the Bible let's get the Genesis first.

Manny: That's Right!

AJ: Wanted that knowledge you know homecoming from the sixties and it always kind of ties back with coaches like you I've been able to talk to in one conversation like with Jerry, somehow Tiger got brought up and he goes oh yeah well you should imagine when I was coaching against them in uh and in high school because I was the first one to see it you know the stories like that all kind of circles back but more so than stories is the philosophy.

Manny: Mm-hmm

AJ: And you know whatever the defense does is wrong you know if the run-and-shoot had a slogan I think that's what the slogan should be whatever you do is wrong yeah so let's go ahead and line up you know and yeah that's pretty cool

Manny: Yeah it is. It's awesome and you know as we talk about these legends of the game and they're to me they're Titans of the game in many ways but you talk about a guy like Jerry Glanville who's from Ohio you know and shoot his story how old is Jerry now?

AJ: 78

Manny: 78, that’s young for a pro coach, right?

AJ: Maybe 77 about. he'll be seventy-eight when the XFL starts gonna be the defensive coordinator and Tampa Bay

Manny: Yeah what was that like you're sitting there, you're working you know alongside Jerry you know or you got to know him so well in all this how did you get you and Jerry Glanville get connected how did that all happen

AJ: Again it's about being genuine and timing yeah so Who am I generally well we've been talking about it run and shoot yeah here's John Jenkins here's Jim Jones that's what I've been doing for about three to four years Jerry comes in at UL Lafayette you know at the same time that Kansas thing happened he was a reason why what happened he comes down and he's gonna coach the defensive coaches so he's been touring all these defensive coaches I'm over here working offensive side of the ball so I going there just GA and then I go up to him and I said hey you know Jeff Ronbolt he saw they say this to you all right you know you always used to talk about you and he was like you know Sun God?!

Manny: Hahaha Sun God?

AJ: Yeah that's what… Jerry has a nickname for everybody you know because you could always go surf at Hawaii after every practice in the morning so he’s the sun-god and so he’s like tell me you know who are you? We started talking and then I had a question for him football wise I always got to have football questions I'll just be the guy that says nice to shake your hand, ask him something schematically, okay another big advice no one's just because there's some coaches that haven't even reached out to me that you know they wanted this you know.

Hey, see your running run shoot but in talking they never asked me one schematic question so we're not talking ball ever we're just we just shooting it and so immediately ask them the schematic question and he was answering no I'd like this and I remember this one concept I go he asked me to go so hey you know what Nebraska is? And I said which happened to be his favorite play I'm like “Yes, the curl, sit, swing”. And he goes “You know my offense better than I do”! and he turns around yeah this guy knows my offense better than me and so from that point on and there was one last thing I said to him I won't forget because it became like our theme because then he invited me to be at the east-west Shrine game after that because then I got it from Jeff Ronbold and I was saying we were talking about this play this play and I said you know what Jeff used to always say you know lift everything and he's like what and I said we got to get back to the deal which was something Mouse used to say something Jerry loved to say so and he said the deal is real and then we always talked about the deal forever. I mean even in our playbook in the strong game it said the deal for offense gives man he was a head coach so I mean it was an immediate connection because I was being true to what I wanted to go down that path and I like you know you've been saying so just natural now how to meet him earlier without that and he would have been in there when I was you know 21 or 20 as a young coach it wouldn't have happened so this is timing and there's a genuine connection from that point.

Manny: Yeah wow that's great I mean Jerry Glanville was you know I think was the man in black you know the whole deal with the Falcons and I mean it's amazing what that guy's pulled off and he's still at the top of his game

AJ: Mm-hmm

Manny: That's what people don't realize. When you went up to Hamilton was it? What’d you notice about his defense up there?

AJ: Yeah well it was one he always has every stat ready but he led the league in least amount of yards run by about two yards I want to say.

Manny: Wow

AJ: And so, you know when the top defenses in the country and Canada and still has it.

Manny: Yeah there's no doubt.

AJ: Yeah

Manny: It's interesting because you look at guys that are in... it’s more in the pros than anywhere else is these masters of the game and they get better like when they hit their 70s

AJ: Mm-hmm

Manny: Yeah you notice that the guys like Dick LeBeau, I mean the list can go on and on. The great O-line coaches, the O-line coach for the Patriots that just retired, I mean you start looking at these guys you know? Shurmur when he was a defensive coordinator with the packers, all these guys they just were like, they have an innate sense when they when they have been focusing on the same direction for so long they know something is about to happen like a chess master is always two or three steps ahead in his move you know and you've been fortunate to be around some of those guys which I think will definitely benefit you as you move on in your career because you can compress time

AJ: Mm-hmm

Manny: You know and I think do you feel as if like I mean you can't compare yourself to anybody else it's just you how do you feel you've been able to develop as a coach because of being influenced by some of these masters of the game?

AJ: I think a big key is being able to get that library and so now their experiences and games I see it you know it's almost in the way I lived it and it's crazy when somebody will try to tell me a story about a John Jenkins game I'm like oh you're talking about the 1989 game I've seen every play probably a hundred times-

Manny: Yeah.

AJ: You know I think that's been big but then actually getting those real-life you know chances to be on the headset with June, and when I was younger first around them and I thought I knew everything at 24 or 25.Every 20 year old yeah and like well I see and I thought this was it and then as I got older and I think I even sent on this email last year's like June you're like one of the smartest guys I know because now it kind of came full circle where June's mind was at that time and you know just continually to be around them and you know like he said in the 70s those guys like Jerry has seen every offense you can imagine so when you say RPO it's nothing new to them you know they've dealt with that since forever and they boom answer you know you feel bad for these coaches that are getting shots at 30 especially on the defensive side and they go play some team that is running the triple option like at Navy you know?

Manny: Yeah

AJ: They're researching what to do because they don't have any experience against it so being able to be this those guys and kind of grab that it absolutely just helps me know

Manny: I mean it's fantastic and you know we're blessed to have guys like that still coaching I get sad sometimes when a guy just that has so much to give to the game decides it's over you know and because and then what ends up happening is more of than not as they retire and it's like they wish they had not.

AJ: Mm-hmm

Manny: You know, a good example regardless of offense/defense was Tom Osborne. I mean he retired and could have coached another ten years easily. You know I mean he went on, did oh so many other things and I think about coach Osborne because you know I was at Kansas State coaching against his staff and all that and it's like he exited out of the game when he was at the top of the game and could have kept it up and some of the things he would have been able to do would have been monumental and I'm sure Corn Husker fans you know wish he stuck around but you know I know Frank Solich did a great job afterwards but it was something that you have so much in this game if you're in it for the right reasons and I believe to mentor you know young men and to help them achieve dreams beyond even their wildest imagination and to find their life's calling. If you're in college per say or high school, you know to help them on their path because the older coaches out there sometimes people don't realize the wealth of knowledge they have just like you have alluded to and it's like tap into those guys. I mean when I was your age it was Tiger Ellison you know and that connection sort of kept me going I was like you know what I'm on a different path at that time and I feel that that's you have that as well you know what would you say? This is sort of a divergence in this thing as run and shot you know and the other side of when you flip the coin over although and he said oh it's similar in many ways we talk about the air raid offense right and you know my run-and-shoot basis is what it is and I would I spent three years of Mike Leech at Texas Tech and that's the first time I really saw the air raid offense you know and I think when we when we did that, it was something that I was able to learn from Mike a different way of seeing things in the run and shoot. So what to you are the differences in that?

AJ: Well when you say air raid I think you got to kind of watch yourself on that now in today's game because what air raid used to mean kind of in the 90s isn't what it is now I mean you're seeing a lot especially in the big 12 you're seeing these two tight or two back and you know run game all this split zone and then when they fill the box now we're just going deep yeah you know a lot of three wide receiver sets you see that but you know there is a lot of simulators if you go back to the basis and you know the only offense that was even similar in where they ever got started people don't realize this was BYU and they're not only in at the time in the 80s there's only two teams like it was Houston doing it one way-

Manny: Mm-hmm

AJ: And then it was the air raid or BYU or Hal was getting his ideas from so what how did was take that two back tight end two wide receiver sets and started you know hey we don't have the tight end like BYU does we won't have a Gordon or those great big be like so now and so we start changed a personnel but he was starting to attack via the air and that's where I think the similarities are is we're gonna we're not afraid to run the ball there's no three yards and a cloud of dust here we're gonna attack you I think a little bit of differences our Air Raid is more horizontal-

Manny: Mm-hmm

AJ: Run and shoot vertical. now you're still trying to go through the air still gotta develop a quarterback there's this nuances but in many ways this attacking coverages progressions you know just fun concepts even with our four verticals we run. very similar to almost exactly how June was doing it

Manny: Yeah

AJ: and Jenkins and everybody else so more similarities than I think differences when you talk about the pure how Mumme, Mike Leech way of doing things now when you get off to their disciples who have kind of turned the wheel you know this is completely different

Manny: Yeah, they're going to put their twist on things and yeah, I think the air raid is a whole other conversation we'll have at some point you know I just wanted to touch on that because you've been influenced by Hal. You've worked with Hal and you know we both know him and you're obviously are very close to him in many ways and yet another mentor that you know he's the Godfather of the air raid offense. You know, and gives you some insight there so you can draw these parallels you know but the air raid is the hottest thing out there right now you know as we close on some of the things we're talking about here you know the run-and-shoot is almost like I think it's like the Holy Grail. you know I mean it's like the Ark of the Covenant. it's something that's like so few the knowledge base is so limited in that even in this day and age of the internet because like you and I have said we look at this stuff it's like what is this it's not even close and so I think there is there are very few as we've talked together earlier before we did this podcast of there's very few guys actually doing it I mean really doing it and you know there's less than five right as we were saying before. So, I think with that being said who knows where that's going to go who knows I mean it could die you know like the single wing did. I don't know you know but then again the single wing came back when Gus Malzahn started doing his stuff so it all could come around and there's some people out there that are doing this right now and in this day and age who would you say are the handful of guys that you would say based on your definition of the run-and-shoot are actually doing it right now in 2019 or so

AJ: Yeah, I mean it's three that I know of and you know you being one, June Jones in Hamilton still upon the half roll out you know all the things he does and what the coach Roll of it's just turned to because before he wasn't doing it then his past season kind of took it by storm caught a few teams off guard yeah and other than you three and the game of college football I can't think of another team that's even trying to follow those principles

Manny: Yeah and you know you wonder about that it's almost like you know you wonder if we if that group or dinosaurs or not you don't know you know is it gonna die out because they're because at one point there was less than that mm-hmm you know so you don't know where the air raid has been flourishing the run and shoot is very limited and I don't notice a purist but proponents of what you would define is the run-and-shoot who knows you know and I guess you know what are your thoughts on that?

AJ: I think you know like you said limited information what's out there is wrong so it benefits anybody that's trying to run it from defensive coordinators and think Mike Leech has even said this to our whole offense is on the Internet well it's also all wrong so please look so you know it's a it's going both ways this how because anybody can go on a Wikipedia page and edit anything at any time the same thing of a playbook you can slap a logo on and said hey look this is Mike Leech’s playbook from 2002 and people will believe it so you know this is a coaching point always know your source I think in general it is harder to coach the run-and-shoot than the air raid by far just because all the complexities you got to go to do it air raid prides on being simple

Manny: Mm-hmm

AJ: That's what they mean they do certain things only we run certain formations only one way because they want more reps at one particular play with just funny because that's how to run a shoot feels we want more reps at this one particular play but instead of it just being it's simple you know we're whatever defense that's is wrong boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom we're gonna have all the answers around the chalk last so I think that has a big part into it is not just limited information but just well we could put this way and it's easier way and people are kind of taking the easier way out with it

Manny: Yeah okay that makes sense

AJ: Yeah you don't see those gaudy numbers anymore like those guys used to put up with 70 80 and even 90 points and Mouse has100 and five yeah getting in a different way

Manny: Mm-hmm wow that's a tremendous insight AJ and yeah, I think I've enjoyed this how about you

AJ: Yeah, no this was fun!

Manny: It'll be great and I know that we're connected forever in this game and I think it's you know as you move on and have some really exciting things are coming up for you in the future and we’ll let people follow you on Twitter how does that work? What is your Twitter handle

AJ: It's Austin James, underscore 7.

Manny: Okay, alright well fantastic, and we'll make sure everybody you know… We'll put some links down here to where they can get in touch with what you're doing and we'll have a good time with this thing but thank you so much for joining!

AJ: Thanks for having me I appreciate it!

Manny: Okay, now it's time for some tips and reminders where we wrap up each episode with some information that you can utilize in your approach to optimize your life let's talk about what I consider one of our secret weapons at the last few places I've been in a way to optimize your coaching lifestyle and that's by using essential oils on a regular basis and you know one of the things is I've just in my background I mean my degree in college and so forth was in biology and have always been intrigued by systems and so forth and when I was taking a look at some of these essential oils that were becoming a vogue, maybe for me about six/seven years ago, I started to understand and go back and look at the history of essential oils and what they can do for us. So just a brief history of essential oils you know aromatic plants have long played an important role in human civilization you know the although the uses of these essential oils have evolved over the years from perfumes to therapy and so forth all these different ways the basic principles remain the same. From the beginning of time essential oils, these oils that have been extracted from aromatic plants have been recognized as the most effective medicine known to man and it's interesting to me that a lot of the medicine that has been created over time comes from the biochemistry of those essential oils that has been changed, and in pharmaceuticals a lot of that has come from that and when you think about it, as I was doing some research on this they were used in Egypt years ago often times for preservation, mummification, and so forth and then China used them in healing and then being Greek I did notice that Hippocrates, the father of Medicine used essential oils and in one case actually to fumigate the city of Athens to fight off a plague epidemic. So you know, today scientists, physicians, researchers, and many individuals that are concerned with managing their own personal health have just begun to explore/discover some of the amazing benefits of what I call what is called pure therapeutic grade essential oils and when you take a look at that. These aren't the ones you would be able to find, like in a health food store and so forth, but you know what I would like to do is share with you one that in this time with everything that's going on were people on lockdown all over the country and so you want to take care of yourself in a particular way and one essential oil that I highly recommend, is a blend which it which means it is a variety of different oils that have been put together and it's a blend called OnGuard. Okay, so this is what it looks like right here and OnGuard is something I have used myself and in our football program it's known as the protective blend we use, OnGuard. we use it in our training room we use it in our locker room as well as in our office complex every coach has a bottle of this in their office and they can diffuse it put it into the air and what's interesting about this particular blend of OnGuard is that you can get so much out of this out of this oil as you utilize this in your environment and also in your body. So, I wanted to give you some quick facts on this but this is actually the pure essential oil blend itself, and then I also keep around something here that would be like a rollerball version of this and you know it just as this deal here and you can put it on your skin. And do it and it goes right into your largest organ, which is your skin and it helps you in many ways stay healthy and feel good about things but this is OnGuard and what I want to do is give you some quick facts from a from a book and some research that I had been doing on this particular oil and how it can help you and why in the world you would want to use this at home and within your football program, Because quick facts on this the oils in this blend have been studied for their strong abilities to kill harmful bacteria mold and viruses alright this blend can be diffused into the air or be used to clean and purify household surfaces so when you see think household services we use it in our locker room as a spray because there was a study done at Vanderbilt University the medical school there in the hospitals where they were using On Guard and it was actually able to kill MRSA and on contact as it was being utilized to keep things clean and so forth. So, we use this in our locker room I know our athletic trainer used it last few athletic trainers I've been last three have all utilized a blend of this protective blend called, OnGuard and it has all types of different oils within the blend it has a wild orange, has a clove, cinnamon bark, and so forth and this is all in a therapeutic way something that is working to keep things fresh and clean in these environments and I diffuse this stuff definitely in the locker rooms and you know it has a nice smell to it but it but the key is that the application of this is so good in helping us and knock on wood, you know in in every place I've been we have not had a single case of MRSA and it does deal with viruses and so forth so do your own research on this. I mean you know it has those oils in it also has rosemary in it and eucalyptus and it's just the way that this works so you can work topically and aromatically. So topically is you can put it on the skin like I was just showed you there or it can work from an aromatic way where you can diffuse this particular essential oil but on guard is fantastic if you're interested in on guard you can click on the link here after this episode right on the website we'll have a link there give you some more information if you choose to order the product or you just want to learn a little bit more about it. In conclusion, I want to thank you so much for joining us on the Manny Matsakis show if you are listening to this podcast make sure to subscribe in iTunes give us a rating and comment on the show if you're watching this on our YouTube channel subscribe to this channel, hit the bell up in the top corner and you can get notifications when we really when we release the next show feel free to comment below on a specific show and then oftentimes within a Q&A session of another podcast I will hit and get everybody caught up on any questions you may have in particular that show up there if you'd like to get all kinds of updates go to the website Manny mattes a kiss calm where you'll be up to date on all the podcasts the audio and video versions you'll be able to see feature blog post as they come up you'll get those alerts and then take a minute and subscribe with your email and all you have to do is put your email in there and then from that point you will get alerts every time we update the website.

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