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Poor Tackling Leading to Inconsistent Play From Trenton Freedom

by Augustine Dashiell | Posted on Wednesday, May 28th, 2014
Lehigh Valley QB Shane McSweeny flips into the end zone over a Trenton Freedom defender. (Image provided)

Lehigh Valley QB Shane McSweeny flips into the end zone over a Trenton Freedom defender. (Image provided)

What does a professional football coach have to talk about during an off week? Plenty, Trenton Freedom coach, Kevin O’Hanlon gave his players the week off, but had plenty to say about the team, the last game and all things Freedom.

“We (coaches) stay in contact with the team, we watch film, I spoke with all of the players today (Tuesday), we are working at getting better,” O’Hanlon said. “This is no off week for the coaching staff or the organization, I planned a while ago to give the players off so they can go back home, as we have quite a few players from out of state.”

O’Hanlon’s Freedom (6-2) defeated Lehigh Valley 55-42 Saturday and built a two-and-a-half game cushion for the division lead but a couple of miscues stood out in the win. The secondary gave up long passes and had a horrible game tackling.

“Most of our secondary miscues weren’t on the corners, it was more the safeties or middle as we call it,” O’Hanlon explained. “He was sitting on the underneath routes and gave up the deep third which is of course the safety’s main responsibility. Overall, the corners played well, they were jamming, and pressing properly but when you see them chasing deep down the middle of the field it looks bad but that was the safety’s responsibility.”

As for the tackling, O’Hanlon pointed to visual proof as to the inconsistencies of his team’s play.

“There are photos online that show our horrible technique,” the coach started. “You can see our heads down looking at the turf and not the target. The picture of their first touchdown shows it perfectly as McSweeny is airborne and a defensive back and linebacker are both looking at the turf. We don’t teach that, I know there aren’t any high schools or colleges that teach that form.”

There were bright spots in Saturday’s game, O’Hanlon pointed directly at his corners when asked.

“Our corners, Christian Wise ( Special Teams Player of the Week) did a heck of a job as did Tristan (Simms). Tristan needs to work on his ball skills, he’s had opportunities to make interceptions and that tells us he is in the right place, he just needs catch the football,” O’Hanlon said. “We can work on that, he is a local kid that is underrated, and not respected enough. He is probably the best press corner on our team, he is a little undersized, but he is so physical and super fast he makes up for it.”

Another player high on the coach’s list is kicker Shawn Leo. Leo turned a weak spot (the Freedom went through three other kickers before signing Leo) into a positive.

“The improvement in the kicking game is all Shawn he works hard,” O’Hanlon started. “It sure is different trotting #10 out there every week, after what we went through with different kickers the first three weeks. He has been phenomenal. Technically, he has missed four kicks but three of the misses have been blocks, he is automatic. On kickoffs his first goal is to go for the uno (singular point on the kickoff), the second goal is to kick it deep into the end zone there really is no third goal.”

O’Hanlon expounded on how the smallest player on the team inspired the Freedom during halftime of Saturday’s game.

“Last week, he came into the locker room with a 103-degree temperature something hit him that fast,” O’Hanlon started. “He came out the second half and kicked well for being as sick as he was, him just coming out inspired the team. They saw him sweating and shaking in the locker room, it looked like he couldn’t even stand.”

O’Hanlon said the coaches simplified the blocking schemes for the return teams and focused more on blocking individuals instead of space. The coach stated this gives the returner a chance to do his job, reading blocks and gaining yards.

As for keeping his team humble, O’Hanlon keeps his message simple.

“We want to go 1-0 every week,” O’Hanlon started. “This week unwind, decompress, stay football smart, and healthy then back to practice Monday.

Quarterback Steve Panasuk lost to long term IR
Defensive back Reggie Sullivan hit with the AFL exemption tag

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