Coach Vass’ Essential Scouting Checklist

We hud­dled with Coach Vass to bring you the best work­flow for get­ting the most out of your new analy­sis fea­ture when study­ing your next opponent.

Coach Vass’ Essential Scouting Checklist

We hud­dled with Coach Vass to bring you the best work­flow for get­ting the most out of your new analy­sis fea­ture when study­ing your next opponent.

With cus­tom columns turned on for Hudl’s analy­sis fea­ture, the pos­si­bil­i­ties of ten­den­cy data com­bi­na­tions you can use to scout your oppo­nent are lit­er­al­ly endless.

And we mean lit­er­al­ly. Because we know no two coach­es ana­lyze the same way. That’s why when you add cus­tom columns to your grid, they auto­mat­i­cal­ly pop­u­late in your analy­sis fea­ture under the Other” section.

Moving them to anoth­er sec­tion, such as Offensive Tendencies, is easy. Just open the card, and click where you want it to go.

But as we all know, paral­y­sis by analy­sis is very real. And with so much data so sud­den­ly ready to run through this new fea­ture, where do you start? 

Here’s a guide to every­thing you need to take care of to scout like a high-per­form­ing foot­ball coach:

Before the Breakdown: Just Watch

As soon you’re done wrap­ping up your pre­vi­ous game, watch the last three games of your next oppo­nent, start­ing with most recent.

Try not to stop the tape much on your first time through. Why? You want to get an over­all feel for your oppo­nent, and don’t want to get too bogged down with details. That will set your foun­da­tion for what you want to do.

But do take notes on: 

  • Offensive per­son­nel (the play­ers, not the groupings)
  • Tip, tells and reminders for our players
  • Ideas you have as you watch.

The Overview: Top 5’s

At Monday’s prac­tice, you want the 10,000 foot view” on your oppo­nent. What your opponent’s top five for­ma­tions, runs and pass­es are will tell you a lot about their rhythm and style. 

Chart the following:

  • Top 5 Formations [sort­ed by for­ma­tion & motion → top 5 plays regard­less of play type]
    • Note: will often go beyond 5 for­ma­tions and sort by for­ma­tion, play type, offen­sive play for the pur­pos­es of cre­at­ing a hit chart
  • Top 5 Runs [sort­ed by runs → for­ma­tion & motion]
  • Top 5 Passes [sort­ed by pass­es → for­ma­tion & motion]

When not­ing the top five for­ma­tions, be sure to track the run/​pass ratio.


This is one of the most fre­quent­ly uti­lized advanced columns by our high school and small col­lege coach­es. And for good rea­son — this is where the real game-break­ing dis­cov­er­ies begin.

To start, for each top per­son­nel group, chart the top runs and top pass­es, not­ing the most pop­u­lar for­ma­tion and motion used with it as well. 

Next, take note of the run/​pass ten­den­cy for each per­son­nel group in down-and-dis­tance, field zone and hash mark situations. 

All Plays

Tony Romo is right. Good teams will some­times deploy looks with the intent of mess­ing with ten­den­cy data future oppo­nents will run on them. As a gen­er­al rule, if you only see some­thing run once, it’s not a tendency.

That said, the beau­ty of this new fea­ture is you’ll be able uncov­er every stone with hun­dreds of com­bi­na­tions of ten­den­cy data. Use it to your full effect by div­ing into the ten­den­cies with­in cer­tain fam­i­lies of plays, as follows: 

  • All Runs by Frequency [sort­ed by runs → per­son­nel → for­ma­tion & motion]
  • All Passes by Frequency [sort­ed by pass­es → per­son­nel → for­ma­tion & motion]
  • All RPOs
  • All Screens
  • All Draws
  • All Trick Plays

Explosive Plays and Chaos

Hudl defines an explo­sive play as going for at least 12 yards. Your bar may be high­er — that’s why these playlists, and under­stand­ing how those plays went for big gains, are so important.

  • All explo­sive runs (+15 yards)
  • All explo­sive pass­es (+20 yards)
  • All offen­sive touchdowns
  • All neg­a­tive runs [sort­ed by runs → gain/​loss less than or equal to -1]
  • All neg­a­tive pass­es [sort­ed by pass­es → gain/​loss less than or equal to -1]
  • All offen­sive penal­ties more than 10 yards
  • All sacks [click sacks” in results section]
  • All inter­cep­tions [click inter­cep­tions” in results section]
  • All fum­bles [click fum­bles” in Results section]
  • All defen­sive Touchdowns [click defen­sive touch­downs” in Results section]

When study­ing neg­a­tive offen­sive plays, it’s impor­tant to eval­u­ate whether or not the defense forced these, or if it was sim­ply poor exe­cu­tion by the offense.

We also rec­om­mend com­bin­ing all neg­a­tive runs, pass, offen­sive penal­ties of at least 10 yards, sacks, inter­cep­tions, fum­bles and defen­sive touch­downs into one cutup.

Down and Distance Study

There’s so many sit­u­a­tions that can mud­dy the true read on your opponent’s down-and-dis­tance play­call­ing ten­den­cies, most notably red zone, goal line, two-minute, four-minute and when the back­ups are in the game.

The eas­i­est way to fil­ter this out is to click all field zones and series, and then sub­tract­ing as need­ed. For instance, you’ll want to imme­di­ate­ly cross off the +20 and +10 field zones. 

Then let’s say your oppo­nent went into a two-minute drill on the sixth and final series of the first half, then played only three offen­sive series in the sec­ond half before giv­ing way to the reserves. You’ll want to cross out the sixth series, and then any series after the ninth.

Once you have that estab­lished, make playlists of each of these down-and-dis­tance scenarios:

  • 1st & 10/​2nd & 1 – 6
  • 2nd & 7 – 9
  • 2nd & 10+
  • 3rd & 3 – 5
  • 3rd & 6 – 10
  • 3rd & 11+
  • Short Yardage (3rd/​4th & 1 – 2)
  • 4th & 3 – 5
  • 4th & 6 – 10
  • 4th & 11+

Now, let’s say you’ve got intel that your opponent’s play­call­ing changes between third-and-four and third-and-five. The sim­ple answer? Go for it. The gen­er­al idea — get­ting a read on short, medi­um, long and extra long downs — is what’s important.

Field Positions of Importance

Red zone ten­den­cies are obvi­ous­ly para­mount to any scout­ing report. You can do this eas­i­ly by using the +20 and +10 fil­ters. For strict­ly goal line ten­den­cies, we rec­om­mend using just the +10 filter.

You’ll also want to see what the oppo­nent is doing when backed up against their own end zone. Do they take shots down­field? Or do they play more con­ser­v­a­tive­ly and just try to get pos­i­tive yards? Use the -10 and -20 fil­ters to see this.

We play­ful­ly call the mid­dle of the field the Alumni Zone”, because those impor­tant alum­ni tend to sit near the 50 yard line. But this is also an area where play­call­ing ten­den­cies tend to change. Group the -30 through +30 fil­ters togeth­er into a playlist.

Quick Tendency Checks

They might not notice it, but sub­con­scious­ly some teams tend to favor run­ning plays to their own bench as opposed to yours. Take a quick look at what your oppo­nents’ run/​pass ten­den­cies are at the left, mid­dle and right hash­es, and the play direction.

Then with­in each hash, cre­ate a playlist of the top runs and top pass­es from each hash. This will give you an idea of how much they like to run plays into the field as opposed to the boundary.

Other Aspects to Study

Here’s a few ideas of oth­er things to track that can make a dif­fer­ence in your gameplan:

  • Openers/​sudden change — What does your oppo­nent like to do on the first play of a dri­ve? The first play after a turnover? Create a playlist of the first play on each series and have a look yourself.
  • Pass pro­tec­tion — What type of pro­tec­tion are they using against cer­tain looks? You might also do good to note which way the cen­ter turns after the snap.
  • Freeze calls — For teams that run no-hud­dle, note when they stop and check with the side­line. Are there cer­tain looks that force this?
  • Cadence — Is there a rea­son why your oppo­nent is snap­ping the ball on two? Three?
  • Pass con­cept — What are the top routes or con­cepts thrown in cer­tain situations?
  • Blocking scheme — That run-heavy team you face might be run­ning the same toss play with dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of pullers. Knowing why they chose a cer­tain block­ing scheme against a cer­tain front can be crucial.
  • Pitch direc­tion — For teams that run a triple-option attack, the quar­ter­back might be more com­fort­able pitch­ing to one direc­tion over the other.

If you’re already using Hudl Assist, the good news is most of this data is already tak­en care of for you. Not using Assist? Check out all of the data columns Hudl breaks down, and see how much more time you’ll spend ana­lyz­ing rather than building.

Once you have your data, log in to your account to access the Analysis Feature and start scout­ing like Coach Vass.