Football 101: OL

Discussion in 'Locker Room' started by OrangeElvis151, Jul 30, 2002.

  1. OrangeElvis151

    OrangeElvis151 < 25 Posts

    I thought here in the wastland of time between spring training and fall practices, we might coax some of our more knowlegeble posters to give all of us a little UT Football 101.

    This is the fourth installment of fundamental position roles and responsibilities. Today's topic is Offensive Linemen. There is a reason this is the position in which a player is most likely (preferably) to take a redshirt. Let's find out why.
    What are the respective responsibilities of a center, guard & tackle? (Let's start off with the basic pocket pass play vs an off-tackle run play - using the two different blocking schemes - zone & drive)
    How are responsibilities changed when we add a tight end one one side - or both? What is the difference between "zone" blocking schemes vs. "drive" blocking schemes. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each (pls include variouse types of defensive fronts and which scheme is best for each front.)
    What (realistic) physical attributes are ideal for each position? In other words, what makes a guy a guard vs. a tackle? Center? Do these physical preferences change with blocking scheme? If so, how/what?

    There are many of us who know the answers to some of these questions. Speak up.

    If you have a question that isn't listed - or you know something about the position that hasn't been addressed - add it. The more interaction, the better.
  2. beaVo

    beaVo 500+ Posts

    i'd like to know what exactly the term "jumbo" means. i know it has to do with the tight-end, but that's about all i know.
  3. OrangeElvis151

    OrangeElvis151 < 25 Posts

    i can answer that. it is a double TE set with a fullback to lead block for the HB. It is THE short yardage formation and with our talent/size, should be an automatic 2+ yard gain.
  4. coachkiss

    coachkiss 250+ Posts

    Boy, OrangeElvis, you pack a lot of questions into one post. Since I have always been a line coach, regardless of OC or DC title, I probably have the most experience at this position.

    I'll start by posting a little at a time....

    More OL are redshirted for on main reason: big guys take a longer time to adjust to the growth of their bodies. Many OL need the extra time to put the muscle on a frame that has grown rapidly. Since OL (across all of the positions) requries more upper-body strength than any other position at the college level, a redshirt year is often necessary to gain the strength. Even if a player is strong out of HS, the extra year just adds to the strenght, it doesn't subtract.

    Agility can also be advanced during the redshirt year, and the body starts to take on a different shape. From belly to brawn. Also, the offensive line, besides quarterback, requires the most adjustment to schemes, line calls, plays, etc. Many times, the OL has no idea what he is going to do until right before the snap. For that reason, intelligence of some sort (IQ, "football smarts", etc.) is a very good trait for any offensive lineman.
  5. coachkiss

    coachkiss 250+ Posts

    Also, OE, it can be a 3 TE set, with one of the TEs as a wing. Motion by the wing TE can be used, or not.
  6. OrangeElvis151

    OrangeElvis151 < 25 Posts

    i did not know that. i envision Brock Edwards being a real threat in that sort of set - he will be a real weapon out of the FB position, if we use him...
  7. beaVo

    beaVo 500+ Posts

    keep it comin, coachkiss.

    as orangeelvis mentioned... i'd also like to know what traits make a player a better guard or tackle, etc... and how assignments typically change when a tight end is added to the formation.
  8. coachkiss

    coachkiss 250+ Posts

    I went into the center some the other day, but since I was unsuccessful in convincing people that it is the hardest position on the field, I will just explain his responsibilities more this time.

    (What I wouldn't give for a dry erase board on here. Is this possible?)

    The center is responsible for snapping the ball, usually calling the huddle, making OL calls, and blocking.

    There are two schools of thought on snapping. One is the vertical snap, and the other the horizontal (twisted) snap. The vertical snap gives the QB the ball in the same position as the referee places the ball on the field. The QB receives it into his hands with his two thumbs together in the middle. This snap is used primarily by option teams. The ball is already in the position for the QB to fake, seat the ball, pitch, etc. The action for the center on this snap is like starting a lawnmower. The ball is yanked up vertically and placed firmly between his family jewels.

    The other snap is used by most all of the other offenses. It gives the QB the grip on the laces. The QB receives the ball with his passing hand on top and the base of his palms together. The nuts of the center should be resting firmly on the top of the QB's passing hand. The snap action for the center is different on this snap. It seems that the arm is more of an inverted catapult, that rockets the ball to the scrotum, with a slight twist of 90 degrees. Therefore, the ball whose tips were facing north and south are now facing east and west.

    Next post, line calls for the center.
  9. RandomUTStudent

    RandomUTStudent < 25 Posts

    I was always played center and am glad to see someone thinks the position is hard. My team was a passing team so I used the "twisted" method so that the laces were right where the QB needed them. Another thing that no one mentioned about the difficultly of center was something I had to do. We ran mostly the shotgun, but my coaches refused to do the whole "QB leg lift" or let me look thru my legs. So I had to do a blind shotgun snap off the regular candence. That took sometime to get used too.
  10. Dr. Sarcasm

    Dr. Sarcasm < 25 Posts

  11. coachkiss

    coachkiss 250+ Posts

    One of the most difficult jobs for the center (but not the most difficult) is making the line calls for the OL. Since the center is centrally located in the line (hence the name), much of the responsibility falls on his shoulders. This not to say that all of the responsibility is on his shoulders...great line play comes from excellent communication from the whole line. Also, the center sees a MLB much easier than the other positions. Since there is only limited stunts the interior defensive linemen and MLB can utilize, the position of the MLB gives many stunts away. Sometimes, all it takes is different foot position by the MLB to give away a stunt, sometimes they will show it completely. It is the center's job to figure out what the interior of the defense is doing (since these players have the ability to be the most disruptive), apply it to the play they are running, adjust the blocking scheme immediately, and get the information out to his teammates.

    Although I talked about the MLB giving away a stunt, a NT can also do the same thing. A different foot forward for a NT, deeper alignment, stronger or weaker shade than normal can all be significant in identifying a blitz. When facing a true "split" defense, with two LBs over the A gaps, the job for the center is multiplied by two.

    Many teams will have the center identify a player as the "zero" or starting point for a play, and the other linemen will know who to block by having the 1st man past the center, 2nd and so on. This gets into the pointing that someone joked about yesterday. It might be even more evident on a punt coverage team.

    Next up, the blocks for the center, and the technique to accomplish them.
  12. RandomUTStudent

    RandomUTStudent < 25 Posts

    Yeah, we did that except we used "X" and the it worked it's way out playside "A", "B", etc.
  13. Rimbo

    Rimbo < 25 Posts

  14. coachkiss

    coachkiss 250+ Posts

    Yes, I guess that's right, Dr. Sarcasm.

    Random, I forgot to mention that snap. It is very difficult, especially when faced with a blitzing LB. You look through the legs, see the signal, look back up, and snap the ball. Since there is no snap count, it makes it harder on the peripheral linemen to have an advantage against a speedy defensive end. Bascially, they are going on the movement of the ball like the DE or DL. That is why you will see the horseshoe shape to the line on shotgun teams. You will also see the guards and tackles holding hands. The guard has a better look at the ball, and the tackle uses the movement of the guard's hand in his as his cue for movement. That appears to be a recent trend over the past 5-6 years that will probably continue.

    Some of you may think that tackles in that horseshoe shape are lined up in the backfield. Many times they are by location, but if they have their head past the guard's waist (in an down stance) or big toe to guard's heel (in a crouching stance) then he is OK by the rules. I'm not 100% positive on that, but having taught it for so long, I hope I'm right.
  15. RandomUTStudent

    RandomUTStudent < 25 Posts

    Yeah, the best was when the other teams DL liked to fake the candence and I snapped it to the QB while his head was turned and hands by his face yelling the real cadence. Needless to say it just happen to be my best snap all year. It hit him right in the chest.
  16. RandomUTStudent

    RandomUTStudent < 25 Posts

    Coachkiss, that's what I was talking about. I think my coach was afraid of our line getting off the ball with no snap count so I had to do the blind snap with a regular snap count. It was the hardest thing to get down I had to do in football
  17. coachkiss

    coachkiss 250+ Posts

    Now we get to the hardest play by the center, the blocking, especially the reach block on a quick DL. While some may argue that the MLB has more speed, is usually a better tackle, etc., if the center misses a cutoff block by the MLB, there is still a chance for a success. If a quick DL (or any DL for that matter) is missed the play has virtually nil chance for survival. (see Tommie Harris, et. al. OU/TX last year)

    What makes the center/QB exchange so tricky is the fact that the center is usually in midstep when the QB is receiving the ball. The QB has to take his hands with the movement of the center, therfore, he has to know which way the center is going to step. Many a ball has been fumbled. Many a "sack" has been caused by the center stepping on the QB's foot before the QB had a chance to move it.

    Against a 4-3 (with a 3 technique strong side and a 1 technique backside with a MLB), the center has the following blocks.

    1. Base block on MLB for middle running plays
    2. Cutoff block on MLB for outside running plays
    3. Block back on weakside 1 for Strong side running plays
    4. Double team a one technique with guard for weakside running plays
    5. Reach a 1 for outside weakside running plays.
    6/7. Zone block to the weak or strong side.
    8. Short pull for LB cutoff.
    9. Pass blocking
    10. Stop penetrating MLB on blitz.

    Very rarely will you see a center asked to reach a 3 technique (outside shade of guard) on a strong side running play. Even more rarely will it be for it to be accomplished properly.

    I'll create a seperate post for each block. I know this is a lot of information, but I was taught that if you can teach someone the center position, the rest are easy.

    Teach every OL to play center, every back to play QB.
  18. alden

    alden 1,000+ Posts


    It's nothing like violin either. I'd get killed out there!
  19. coachkiss

    coachkiss 250+ Posts

    1. Base block on MLB for middle running plays

    Probably the easiest (maybe second easiest) block for a center. After the snap, the center fires out and blocks the LB head on (possibly with a head to one side).

    Imagine the MLB is a tin can. Where would you put the pressure on the tin can to crush it? In the middle, and it's the same with the MLB or other LB. Hit him in the middle on the base block with the screws of your helmet at the base of his numbers. Your screws hitting his numbers should act as a trigger to unleash your arms into his gut (thumbs up and on the inside). It should also be a cue to your feet to keep driving through with "short, choppy steps" (an old coach cliche'). Long steps get you off balance as overextend yourself, and it diminishes your power base. Near the completion of the block, slide your head off to the side you want him cut off from (left or right) and swing your anus to the football. In reality, it is just a seal, but I like the vivid imagery. All of this is occuring as your mental alarm clock is ticking letting you know when the ballcarrier should be close by or past. Just for fun, dropping below the waist and bear crawling pisses LBs off. They don't like people in their legs. Then they only having reaching arm tackles as their weapon.
  20. coachkiss

    coachkiss 250+ Posts

    Sorry for this post (it was a mistake)
  21. coachkiss

    coachkiss 250+ Posts

    1. Base block on MLB for middle running plays
    2. Cutoff block on MLB for outside running plays

    The cutoff block is a difficult block to achieve, and many times it turns into a seal-out block. On the snap, the center takes a step with his playside foot, and sprints to a point about 3 yards to the outside of the MLB. (Envision leading a dive with a shotgun). Ideally, the MLB and center will meet at this point. How often does this happen? Hardly ever at the college level. Why? Because the guys lined up at guard and tackle are pushing back the DTs in the way. If they aren't, your cutoff block on the LB won't make much of a difference anyway. Therefore, the center makes a decision based on the play, his ability, and the position of the MLB. Many times the center has the time on an off-tackle play to seal out the MLB (basically MAKING the MLB overrun the play). Other times, the play would be better if the center just continued on to the next level (safety, backside LB, backside, CB), and tried to seal off pursuit.

    If the center and MLB do ideally meet, the best shot the center has many times is a cut block on the LB, reducing him to an arm-tackler (at best) or a pile of human rubble on the field.

    Obviously, counter action by the back or misdirection make this block much, much easier. However, it sometimes comes at the expense of something else.
  22. MDhornfan

    MDhornfan < 25 Posts


    Since Coach has handled center responsibility in far greater competence than I ever could. I'll handle the drive vs. Zone blocking for Guard and Tackle.

    A Drive is your basic man on man run block. You take the guy on or over you and base block away from the hole. Most college teams don't zone on running plays (much more common in NFL) As the name implies you are responsible for the first guy in your "zone". It is much easier to zone block vs. DL stunts (you release the DT if he stunts, and look for the DT /DE he's stunting with). Zone blocking on the run basically involves the backside sealing pursuit, strong side hitting the first defender they see and RB picking the hole.
  23. dnddavis

    dnddavis < 25 Posts

    Coachkiss, thanks for the expert analysis. Have wondered too about OrangeElvis' question: "What (realistic) physical attributes are ideal for each position? In other words, what makes a guy a guard vs. a tackle?" Particularly in looking at the depth chart for OT in 2003 when Doane/Randle are gone and Scott/Winston are there in need of some depth.

    You have prototypical guards like Blalock and protypical tackles like Scott. But what makes Valdez (6.4", 310, 5.1) a guard rather than a tackle? To a fan like me, the obvious difference would be for an OT to have both strength/speed upfield in running plays and lateral speed to counter the rush DE they face--keep them from quickstepping you inside or beating you to the outside for a TFL. If a coach has more guard depth than tackle, what attributes are you looking for to move a player over to OT?

    Terrance Young and William Winston were physically very close in size/speed (6'6+ 340+ and 5.3) but one is a guard/other a tackle. TY has been reported to have lost weight, firmed up--that would seem to increase his quickness. Garr was a tackle but now a guard; what does he need to do to add to the much needed OT depth facing us in 2003? Guys like Studdard (6'3, 280) and Sendlein (6'4" 295) have played bothOL/DL in hs--what attributes place them at guard, tackle, or center? I watch the moves made by our coaches changing players from one OL position to the next and wonder, what was the bottom line for the move and what is necessary when depth is missing in one area to make further changes?
  24. MDhornfan

    MDhornfan < 25 Posts


    You are incorrect on who the quicker OL tend to be. Ususally the quickest lineman is your center. They have to reach further than any other OL. A guard needs to be quick / fast enough to handle pulling responsibilities. The Tackle is usually the biggest of the group (and slowest) They have very little need to run, except leading a screen or a true Counter Trey.
  25. coachkiss

    coachkiss 250+ Posts

    In reality, the positions of the OL are becoming blurred. With zone blocking increasing, guards and tackles are becoming very similar. In days of yore, your quicker guys played at guard. They would be responsible for pulling more (G blocks, sweeps, traps, etc.) Although those plays are still used frequently, OL are becoming such uniform freaks of nature that a guy can play tackle or guard.

    For stereotypes sake, I will make these comments. Because of the likelihood of facing a down lineman, guards are usually shorter. They need to be for leverage. Not short, just shorter. It also helps when you are trying to keep passing lanes open for the QB. In addition, guards usually pull more than any other linemen. Quickness and speed help. However, tackles are pulling much more than they used to (sweeps, screens instead of just on the ol' "quick pitch"). You may remember MW blasting CBs last year.

    Because they play against the fringe quickness, tackles have to have very quick feet. Long arms are more prevalent in tackles.

    I feel so bad putting players in boxes. Especially with the way the game is changing. I think that is why you see so much movement (interchangeable parts) among the UT OL.
  26. OrangeElvis151

    OrangeElvis151 < 25 Posts

    somewhere along the way, someone address how linemen are taught to hold off a LB blitz. While the numbers associated with these matchups make it impossible to stop everyone for any signifigant period of time, is there some "technique" (that's legal) a player uses to slow up a blitzing LB as he's coming through?
  27. OrangeElvis151

    OrangeElvis151 < 25 Posts

    What are the rules regarding holding, now? a OL can grab a handfull of DL's jersey, so long as it is between the shoulders, right? or is this just technique that allows an OL to get away with holding?

    Furthermore, how is an OL allowed to use his hands when "shoving" in pass protection? I know they are not allowed to put their hands in the DL's face, but can they open-hand "gut-punch" a DL? Seems this would deter a DL who likes to jump up -with arms raised - in an attempt to deflect the QB's passes...
  28. coachkiss

    coachkiss 250+ Posts

    On both accounts, OE, you are correct. You can hold (grab jersey) if it is within the frame of your body. One it gets outside your body, it is holding.

    Punches to the gut, with fists, as long as it is not a punch Ali-style, are legal. It does work. We were taught to work over the midsection/breadbasket/family jewels to get a linemen's hands down.

    I'm getting to stopping the blitz. Just give me time. I've got a lot in the closet I still have yet to bring out.
  29. Jester M409

    Jester M409 25+ Posts

    Here is how my old Polish grandmother once explained OL play from watching football on TV:

    "One player pinches another player on the *** and they a hell of a big fight."
  30. MDhornfan

    MDhornfan < 25 Posts

    I think everyone is taught the short quick punch to get DL hands down. It still pisses me off when I see NFL lineman letting DTs block passes at the line.

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