The Massachusetts Pirates have announced that former Louisville Xtreme Head Coach Mark Stoute has joined the organization as a senior advisor to the coaching staff. The Xtreme ceased operations last week making Stoute available. According to Pirates Founder, Co-Owner, President and General Manager Jawad Yatim, Stoute will be assisting on both sides of the ball with game planning, with a special emphasis on offense.
Stoute was tabbed to lead the Indoor Football League expansion franchise in Louisville and posted an 0-5 record but in their last three games the Xtreme did not lose a game by more than eight points. When the team folded both players and coaches were on the market.
“We had a dispersal draft for the Louisville players following their termination, but in my opinion, we came out of that situation with the best asset Louisville had to offer and he wasn’t among those who were draft eligible,” Yatim said. “Stoute has a tremendous amount of experience in this league and is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to the game, the different coaches we compete against, and their schemes,” Yatim added.
In addition to being a head coach in Louisville, he’s held the same position in Toronto in the Arena Football League, Cedar Rapids (where he was the Coach of the Year in 2013) and Nebraska in the IFL, Jacksonville in the Arena Football League and National Arena League, plus several stops as an assistant. Stoute says he’s looking forward to his new role in Massachusetts.
“I’m getting used to what is already here,” he said. I spent the first week evaluating the defensive side of the ball and seeing where I think I can help with some concepts and try to enhance what’s in place. I don’t want to be a distraction or create confusion. I’m also working primarily with the offense side of the ball in terms of preparing for what they are going to face in the game. I simulate the defense that they will be going against based on what I’m seeing and my knowledge of those coaches within this league,” he added.
It’s only been a short time, but Stoute likes what he has seen thus far.
“Athletically they’re not too far off. We’re still making a few mistakes and we want to eliminate as many of those mistakes as possible. A lot of it is fixable. We’re a little undisciplined at times. We jumped offsides (last week); we had some penalties that were untimely, so we want to get over that. Just like winning is habit forming, losing and mistakes are habit forming if you don’t correct them right away and move forward,” Stoute said.
After two seasons in the NAL, the Pirates are now 4-3 in their first season in the IFL. Having coached in both leagues, Stoute is familiar with the changes that the Pirates are making, moving into a new league. He broke it down in terms that fans can understand.
“Let’s take the quarterback position. In the NAL, which is the Arena Football League game, it’s more of a Tom Brady type quarterback. A true drop back passer who hands the ball off and makes all the throws. In the IFL it’s more like a college game. It’s a shotgun (formation) with more of an athletic quarterback. He can run it; he can hand it off; it’s that type of athlete so the game is a little different. Same thing defensively. In the IFL you have a little bit more freedom as a defensive coordinator. You can play true cover two, you can play true cover three. There’s no need to have two guys in the box. If you want to put them in the box you can, so you can play with two linebackers, but basically it’s one linebacker and a four-man DB shell. That allows you to play cover two, cover three, man free; things that you can’t do in the AFL based on the limitations of the “Jack” linebacker. It’s a little bit more like the outdoor game,” he said.
He added, “The other big thing is the running back. In the IFL it’s a true running back like you would see in the NFL on Sunday or in college football, it’s that true running back. It’s not the big undersized offensive lineman; it’s a regular outdoor back. Same thing with our linebacker. Our primary linebacker is a 220 lb. regular outdoor inside linebacker. Some of the personnel fits are a little different. We don’t have a tight end, but we are allowed to go empty (empty backfield set). We can take that back and split him out of the backfield. In the AFL or NAL game the running back must always be lined up in the backfield. In the IFL, not necessarily so, that creates a little more versatility. You’ll see the “jet” motion which is a big part of college football right now with the jet sweep. You don’t see that in the AFL. There are some things that are similar, but there are some truly different things that really trigger the game onto a different level in terms of offense and defense,” Stoute concluded.
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