The Battles Along the Line of Scrimmage

13 Jul

 

OL battle (hectorir)

Football is conflict.  This conflict is no more evident — or violent — than in the battle along the line of scrimmage where strength and positioning — what coaches call “leverage” — often determines the winner.  Here there are no Davids here; there are only Goliaths.

That which separates the combatants is essentially a DMZ.  It is a swath of turf called the neutral zone.  No one, except the offensive center, can intrude upon this sacred ground and him only because he must handle the ball to snap it.  In terms of dimensions, it is as wide as the ball is long.  Each tip of the ball is a coordinate in a separate line of scrimmage that stretches from sideline to sideline: one for the defense, and one for the offense.

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The “O” in Power-O

12 Jul

160711 - Power O (2)

Given the way youth defenses leverage the outside to prevent running plays beyond their contain personnel, we would argue that a well-run Power-O — more than most Sweep or Pitch actions — has the most potential to bust for long yardage.  Consider first the advantages of your basic Power-O play:

— It permits the OL to come off hard and aggressive.
— It uses a gap blocking scheme which lets the OL handle slants, stunts, and blitzes.
— It can be run from any number of formations and personnel groupings.
— And, lastly, the play is downhill which reduces the risk of tackles behind the LOS.

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Bump and Run or Press Coverage?

11 Jul

press (flickr.com-Eric Wolfe)

Bump and Run or “press” coverage, once considered a high-risk technique, has become a basic fixture of modern pass coverage. Defensive backs who know the technique feel safer bumping and running with a man than covering him on from an off position.

The technique can be employed in any kind of pass defense on any level of play. A player doesn’t have to have superior talent and great speed to play it. It’s more important to understand the parameter of the specific coverage and the WR split.

One season, Kansas State had four new starters in its secondary – a freshman and sophomore at the comers and a sophomore and a junior at the safety positions. All had good athletic talent, but no exceptional speed and little or no experience.

By playing some form of a man defense 75% of the time, the Wildcats led the Big Eight and ranked seventh in the nation in pass defense with an efficiency rating of 94.3. They allowed only seven TD passes and a 45% completion percentage, while intercepting 13 passes and breaking up 40 others.

The reasons to commit to the Bump and Run philosophy:

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Four Foundations of Coaching

10 Jul

160710 - coaching

What we need in a coach are what we’ll call the “four foundations”.  Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Technical proficiency
  2. Teaching
  3. Motivation (or Love of the Game)
  4. Role Modeling

Technical Proficiency

160710 - technical proficiency1

What separates most football fans from coaching is the knowledge required to coach.  Not only must a coach “know” about the game in great detail, he must also have experience.

To this day, my favorite commentary on coaching experience comes from Coach Gruden.  Not long before Gruden’s Super Bowl victory over the Raiders (with the Bucs), Gruden granted an amazing interview where he discussed how a young guy like him could be an NFL head coach.  The most memorable part of the interview was when Gruden talked about all of the letters he receives from the hundreds of folks that want to come coach for him.

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The Center of Attention

4 Jul

In the 2008 NFL draft, eight left tackles were selected in the first round.   That’s some big money for some very big men. The right-handed quarterbacks whose blindside they would eventually protect would argue that it was money well spent.

blindside (crazyyh)

In the picture above, #76 (dark jersey) is the left offensive tackle who is protecting the quarterback’s blindside (#8) – the side he cannot see – from a defensive player’s “pass rush” from the outside or off the “edge”.

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Pre-Snap Movement

3 Jul

The thing you will often see an offense use to confuse a defense is pre-snap movement — either a formation shift or a man in motion.  Coaches believe it is two things: fun and lethal.

160703 - Man in Motion

The thinking is that they will be difficult to defend and, at the same time, they won’t overload their offensive linemen or quarterback with too much to remember as the teaching remains the same each week.

For them, the benefits of pre-snap movements are as follows:

  1. Simplifies the defense – It causes defenses to make multiple checks prior to the snap which can force them to play mostly base defense. This helps the offensive line.
  1. Motion Causes Emotion – Movement makes defenses tentative because they’re not sure what will happen next. For most defenders, it forces them to think, and when they’re thinking, they’re not as aggressive.
  1. Prevents the defense from matching up their best defenders on our playmakers – By changing up where they line up their “go-to guys”, they prevent the defense from getting their best defenders on their biggest offensive threats.
  1. Creates opportunities for our playmaker – Moving their playmakers around can create touches for them in a variety of ways. This is a way of making sure that their playmakers touch the ball enough in order for them to be successful.
  1. Allows for Multiplicity – Movement will give them an opportunity to run their plays from a variety of formations and looks, which allow them to exploit a specific weakness in the defense.
  1. Gain leverage on defenses – They can get an extra player to the point of attack by motioning or shifting. They can also get to unbalanced formations to cause problems for defenses.

Manipulating a defense is the main goal of any pre-snap movement, be it a trade, a man in motion, or a shift.  The idea is to “change the picture for the defense” before the ball is snapped and get them thinking because, as coaches know from experience, when a defense is thinking, it’s stinking.

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Pass Blocking – The Basics

7 Apr

OL OT kick slides (brookenovak)

Pass blocking is an offensive lineman’s toughest challenge. Coaches — and players –must understand that offensive line play is an unnatural task, a skill that is acquired through many hours of hard work and dedication. To be an effective pass blocker, an offensive lineman must take pride and have the confidence in his ability to protect the quarterback. The goal of every pass blocker is to strive to trust their technique. As long as they are sound in their fundamentals and technique it should not matter what the defender does.

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