Obviously, the No. 1 issue among the Huskies and their fans this week are the Huskies' third-quarter blues, and by extension, halftime adjustments.
So, I tried to get some basic information about that from three coaches this week, and that will be the topic of my colum in the Friday newspaper.
From UW's Ty Willingham, I simply wanted some sense of how those precious few halftime minutes in the locker room are doled out. He said their are four key elements: first he addresses his team, then he meets with his coaches to plan for the second half, then the coaches meet with players or their player groups to communicate the second-half adjustments, and the Willingham addresses the team again.
That means the coaches really need to come up with those adjustments on the fly, and communicate them quickly. Given that, I asked two of the most informative Pac-10 coaches to give some examples of typical halftime decisions and adjustments.
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Oregon State's Mike Riley: "The important thing at halftime is to decide what you need to focus on in the second half. Offensively, what are the runs that we want to lead with, what are the protections that are the most important, then looking at what kind of coverages we're getting so we can fit the patterns with it. It's kind of a summary of what we're seeing, and then what we intended to do with it. Or, if we're having problems in a certain protection, how to shore it up. Or, if we're not running the ball very well from a certain formation, how to get that going in a different way. I think one of the most important things is to try to be concise. You can't ultimately change over a lot of things that you intended to do, but deciding what you're going to emphasis in the second half is a big, big factor."
Oregon's Mike Bellotti: "Your halftime adjustments depend on how your first half has gone. If you've had protection issues, you've got to address them. If there are plays or schemes on either side of the ball that are giving you problems, you've got to find ways to counter those. Typically you're going to review your best running plays, your best passing plays, any concerns you have from a protection standpoint, or a personnel matchup or a scheme that they're doing something different. That's usually the first time you have a chance to sit down and talk with your staff and your players, and I think certainly you're looking always for that difference-maker in the second half, something that you've held from the first half. I think oftentimes there are games when there are very few halftime adjustments – people are doing pretty much what you thought on both sides of the ball. And there are other games when halftime adjustments are crucial to your chance to succeed because you have to come up with an answer. Experience is a huge factor in that and the comfort zone of the player group; meaning the more veteran your team is, the more veteran your quarterback is, the more able you are to make adjustments."