Deep inside Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay Storm coach Lawrence Samuels sits on a couch in front of a big-screen television, remote in hand, playing and replaying an offensive goal line sequence from last season.
To his left, new Storm offensive line coach Josh Bauman watches intently, analyzing the blocking schemes used and evaluating the linemen.
The play is a run, a sweep to the left from the two-yard line. Samuels starts the tape. At the snap of the ball, the opposing defensive line gets penetration into the backfield.
The fullback is swarmed by the time he receives the handoff. The play results in a one-yard loss.
Samuels and Bauman discuss what went wrong. Samuels points to a missed blitz pick up. Bauman notices one of the linemen didn’t fire off the ball quick enough.
The two are in synch as they bounce ideas off one another.
“I know what Josh brings to the table,” Samuels said. “He’s a hard-working individual that is the type of guy to come in early and stay late. We have a really good working relationship together.”
Bauman was hired by the Storm on January 14. Since that day, he and Samuels have pored over film nonstop.
“Probably 70 hours just last week,” Bauman estimates.
Bauman has spent most of that time getting familiar with the Storm’s terminology, putting new plays in the playbook and game planning for the upcoming season, which opens Friday, March 27, versus the Cleveland Gladiators at Amalie Arena.
“We’re just going back and forth, picking up little things so we’re both on the same page,” Bauman said. “We’re able to learn a lot like that.”
Bauman and Samuels share a deep bond from their coaching days at Division II Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, during the 2011 season.
Bauman was an offensive line coach for the Marauders; Samuels coached the wide receivers.
“When we were at Central State, we really worked well together,” Samuels said. “We did a lot more than just he coached O-line and I coached receivers. I was over certain aspects of pass coordinator and he was a run coordinator-type deal, so we had to work together.
“We have a really good working relationship.”
Following that season, Samuels joined Dave Ewart’s staff with the Storm. Bauman moved on to coach the linebackers at Capital University.
But the two remained in close contact.
“We always talked,” said Bauman, who played center collegiately at Division III Baldwin-Wallace University. “We probably talked weekly, even 1,500 miles away. I would still call him right and left. He would call me just to check in, see how I was doing, stuff like that.”
The close relationship should create a harmonious relationship during the heat of battle on Storm game days.
“You just want guys to have a great work ethic, and Josh has that quality,” Samuels said. “He’s going to try to find every detail to try to give us the advantage and the edge. That’s the kind of guy we really like to have on the coaching staff.”
Bauman comes to the Storm from the University of Buffalo, where he was a defensive assistant since July 2014. Buffalo fired its head coach, Jeff Quinn, midway through the 2014 season, but Bauman was retained by new Bulls coach Lance Leipold.
Bauman will return to Buffalo to serve as a quality control coach once the Storm season is over. In Tampa, he’ll get a chance to do more coaching on the field, which was a key factor in his taking this new position with the Storm.
That, and his familiarity with Samuels.
“I think it’s key that you find somewhere you like with people you like,” Bauman said. “Before I came here, I know who was working here and all the people were great people, so it made it easier for me to make the decision to come here.”
As Samuels moves ahead to the next play on the big screen, he notices a unique formation he’d like to incorporate into the Storm offense this year. Samuels and Bauman break down the alignment and start diagramming all of the plays they can run out of it.
It’s 3 p.m.
The pair will put in a couple more hours studying film and creating film before calling it a night. Early the next morning, they’ll be back at it again.
“I think the biggest thing for me is he sees how hard I work to try to perfect things,” Bauman said. “I see the same thing in him. I think that’s kind of what draws us close.”