Special Teams: Winning the Hidden Yardageby Grant Cain
Although special teams are often overlooked, they almost always have a direct and immense impact on the outcome of a game. In fact, improving special teams play may be the quickest way for a coach to improve his team, because of the “hidden yardage” that occurs when specials team units are on the field. Special Teams: Winning the Hidden Yardage outlines the fundamental elements, philosophies, drill work, and schemes that can improve special teams play and enhance a teams advantage in the battle for “hidden yardage.”
Among the topics covered:
• Motivational aspects
• Punt team
• Punt block/return
• Kickoff team
• Field-goal units
• Practice structure
• Game footage
Grant Cain begins his second season as the recruiting coordinator, inside linebackers coach and co-special teams coach at Mercer University in 2014.
In his first season, Cain mentored a young inside linebacker unit that helped key a Bears’ rushing defense that ranked second in the Division I FCS. His unit had two of the team’s top four tacklers, led by freshmen Tyler Ward, who posted a team-high 101 tackles (10.5 for loss), and Devin Davidson, who added 57 tackles and two fumble recoveries.
Cain came to Mercer after a seven-year post at Coastal Carolina University, holding various positions on the Chanticleers’ staff. His stint at Coastal Carolina began in 2005, when he was hired as a graduate assistant coach under then-head coach David Bennett.
He parlayed his role as a graduate assistant coach into a full-time coaching position in 2007 after graduating with a master’s degree in instructional technology. His appointment as outside linebackers coach ushered in an era of consistency on the defensive side of the ball as the team ranked among the nation’s top-23 programs in tackles-for-loss (TFL) in 2007, led the conference in TFL in 2008 and paced the league in sacks in 2009.
In 2010, Cain was promoted to coach both the defensive ends and outside linebackers, and continued to produce immediate dividends in his assigned defensive areas. Despite suffering a season-ending injury to preseason all-conference selection Quinton Davis, Cain helped develop senior DE Kent Harper from a third-string backup into one of the league’s premier defensive players. Harper finished the 2010 season with an average of 10.0 tackles per game, ranking third among Big South players and 16th-best in the nation before landing All-Big South Second Team honors.
Cain’s time at Coastal Carolina saw the team reach unprecedented success, capturing Big South Championships in 2005, 2006 and 2010. Overall, his work helped the Chanticleers rack up a gaudy 47-33 overall record, while becoming a perennial league power with a 22-13 Big South record. During more than seven seasons at Coastal Carolina, Cain also contributed instruction for the special teams units and inside linebackers.
Prior to his time at Coastal Carolina, Cain spent the 2005 spring and summer seasons as a defensive assistant with the Colorado Crush of the Arena Football league. His efforts helped lead the Crush to its first AFL title in the franchise’s third year of existence.
Cain’s playing days saw him earn team captain honors in his senior season at Catawba College, an NCAA Division II member of the South Atlantic Conference. During his four seasons as a student-athlete, the Indians made national playoff appearances every year, including advancing to the semifinals in 2001.
A 2003 graduate of Catawba with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Cain is married to the former Shauna Koontz. The couple has two sons, Caleb and Samuel.