Wommack letting players decide - Printable Version

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- calling_the_hogs - 07-08-2002 09:18 AM

Wommack Lets Players Vote On Leaders
Sunday, June 30, 2002
Column By Harry King

Arkansas News Bureau/RazorbackCentral

Along with stunts and man coverage, members of Arkansas' defensive unit learn about civics.

Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack has his players vote. They decide which teammates demonstrate leadership, character, toughness and the best work ethic. They even rate their position coaches on Wommack's ballot.

"I want to know what they think," he said.

Often, he is surprised when the votes are tallied. Sometimes, the players make it clear they are ready to rally around someone who has fought through personal problems. Invariably, there is an athlete who barely gets on the field but has the respect of his peers and ranks at or near the top in the character category.

On the ballot, character is defined as:

• The person you can trust the most.

• He always tries to do what is right.

• Has ambition and knows what he wants in life.

• He cares about others.

• He is committed to a cause.

The ballot has blanks for three athletes in each category. Once the totals are in, the results are passed on to what Wommack calls the players' Leadership Council. "We let them set goals and objectives on defense," he said.

The toughness category includes, "He will knock your block off," while one of the four traits of leadership is, "You would follow him anywhere." Under work ethic are such things as, "He will get the job done," and "Works longer and harder than anyone else."

Wommack asks the players to do an eight-page self evaluation along with an assessment of their coach so, "We can see what we can do better."

Named coordinator after John Thompson left for Florida early in the year, Wommack says getting the best 11 players on the field is essential.

As soon as the regular season is over — long before spring practice — he has the coaches vote on who they think are the best 11 players on defense. "I don't care what position they play," he said.

The coaches also go two and three deep at each position and the players do the same.

"I want team ownership," he said. "I believe that, I'm just another piece of the puzzle. Everybody is important.

"I'm not going to be in the huddle on Saturday, I'm pretty sure," he said.

The vote "influences which direction we take them more than who plays," he said.

Under Wommack, there will be some changes, but the defense evolves some each year just to stay up with the game.

He believes in a large amount of defense. "We call it an inventory of defense so we can change it from week to week," he said.

Some things that will be viable against Boise State in the Sept. 7 opener will be dumped before the Razorbacks open Southeastern Conference play three weeks later against Alabama.

Some say there is no way to have so much in the defensive package and be efficient.

"We do a lot of different things, but it's really a system where we don't play a lot of techniques," he said. "There's different combinations of people doing different things."

For instance, a defensive lineman may have only five techniques. "But, combine that with the other 10 guys playing different techniques and you've got a lot of things going on," he said. "That's really the system behind it."