May 6, 2016

LaPolice’s Mini Camp Wrap-Up

Our offensive mini camp earlier this week was the product of months of planning by possibly our best offseason acquisition in offensive coordinator Paul LaPolice. LaPo lives and breathes this stuff. For the last four months, he has been hunkered down in his office or his quarterback meeting room, with a full-wall white board, scripting his plans for the season. As I’ve mentioned, he and I worked together here from 2010-2012 when he was the Head Coach, so we know each other well and it’s really great to have him back around the building. A few Saturdays ago, I was walking by his office and he called me in. He wanted to show me a play he’d created. Obviously I can’t go into specifics, but as he described it and showed me how it will work, his eyes lit up like that of a mad scientist’s admiring his latest creation.

So when he popped by my office the other day, I had to ask him his thoughts on the three-day mini camp. Coach LaPolice is a teacher, and in conversations with players following the camp, they all raved about how he doesn’t stop teaching on the field. He was noticeably more vocal at practice than he was as a Head Coach, but that’s normal and understandable given a Head Coach’s role is different during practice than a coordinator or position coach.

“I’ve got to be more the yeller and screamer now, teaching and correcting constantly.”

So, I asked him, what did you think of the three days? And off he went, eyes lit up. “We worked on motions, we worked on cadences; guys now understand the tempo we want, the speed at which we want to do things. We put in three days of installation, installing parts of the offence. Guys are going to be more prepared offensively than if we hadn’t done this, no question.”

IMG_5584The offensive staff had actually carded 105 plays – and with the help of some Bisons players standing in as defenders, Coach LaPolice and his staff were able to run through the 105 plays that were drawn up going against a stand-in front seven defence. “It was a huge help for us, especially for the offensive line and running backs, so they would know who to block in certain scenarios. We had it drawn out so guys could see how the play would develop and where they would need to go, blocking wise.”
Coach LaPolice has implanted a communication software program so all of his offensive guys can join a network, and communicate not only to him and the other players, but the coaches can send them all film, plans etc. As he sat in my office, his phone rang. “Oh, Julian Talley just joined the receivers group,” he said. This stuff makes him tick.

Here are a few other notes from the offensive boss’s brain following mini camp.

On Drew Willy: “Stood out, as we expected. Very good leader and very good quarterback. Solid. Threw the ball well. Short and deep very well. He performed at a high level.”

On Ryan Smith and Weston Dressler: “They studied and practiced the way we expected them too. Effort and attitude, they’re professionals and are going to be huge for the younger guys in training camp on offence.”

On what fans can expect come main camp: “More of the same. Keep teaching them, but also installing more concepts and then start fine-tuning it all. We want the offence churning full-go come June 24.”

On being back on the field coaching after three years off: “It was pretty cool, to be honest. I loved my time at TSN but to be back out there teaching and coaching with Coach O’Shea and the entire staff, it’s what I love to do.”