November 12, 2017

It’s A Snap Blog: Watching football can be a science

Well blog fans, if you’re anything like me, you won’t be moving very far off the couch today. It’s Semi-Final Sunday in the CFL with back-to-back games, one of which will determine who the Stamps play in the Western Final next Sunday.

While we all have our own way of watching games – escaping to the man cave, for example – it’s a little different for professional football players. Rarely do they get to actually enjoy a match as a spectator because they’re focused on trying to pick up subtleties that might give them an edge the next time they face that opponent.

For quarterbacks especially, watching film is one of the major factors that go into preparing for a game. I chatted with Bo Levi Mitchell ahead of the Western Semi-Final to learn how he watches a game and what he’s looking for.

Alanna: How do you watch a CFL game?

Bo: When I’m watching CFL games, it’s all dependent on if we’re playing them in the next three weeks. If we are, I’m just staring at the defence and what they do but if not, maybe if it’s an East game and we’re not playing them for awhile, I just watch it as a spectator. You watch so much film, your eyes get trained to look at fronts and then the linebackers and the safety and where they’re lined up and where rotations going. You kind of lose feeling of the game and how it actually plays out, you know it’s nice to just watch it as a fan sometimes and enjoy it.

A: What are you looking for when watching an opposing defence?

B: All 12, the defensive coach on the side, the guys on the sideline, the way they talk, the way they communicate. There’s not a thing they do on film that doesn’t go unnoticed. Guys make mistakes communicating and stuff like that. We definitely pick up on it.

A: What about the NFL, is there anything you can gain from those games?

B: When I’m watching NFL, I love watching the defence but when there’s a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, I don’t take my eyes off him. I focus on everything he does, everything he sees and it’s definitely fun.

A: What have you learned from them?

B: The way they line up in shotgun, the way they take the first step without getting a false step, Rodgers the way he’s about to torque his upper body forward when his lower body’s still planted and be able to move on the run. With Tom, his subtle athleticism in the pocket is very underrated. He’s a very good pocket mover and does a great job in there and just the way he communicates with his guys. I love watching him get fired up and passionate about it and I try to make sure I carry that into my game.

So my challenge to you today, blog fans, is to try to watch part of a game like Bo Levi does. Don’t follow the ball necessarily, just watch what the defences do in different situations. You never know, you might pick up on something you’ve never noticed before!