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fballteam1By Justin Iske, Offensive Line Coach, Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University offensive line coach Justin Iske uses four different sets against four types of leverage points in his pass protection schemes. In the clinic report below, he details how he uses the “triangle” to identify pre-snap pressure and how he teaches his lineman to protect against first level movement in man and gap pass protection.

By Justin Iske - @justiniske

Offensive Line Coach

Fort Hays State University



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Editor's Notes: Justin Iske begins his fourth season on the coaching staff at Fort Hays State in 2014. Iske coaches the FHSU offensive line and serves as the team’s strength coach. In Iske’s first three seasons at FHSU, he has coached seven All-MIAA selections on the offensive line, led by two-time second team selection Hawk Rouse in 2011 and 2012 and second-team selection Mario Abundez in 2013. The Tiger offensive line helped produce an average of over 2,000 rushing and 2,000 passing yards per year in Iske's three seasons. Iske came to FHSU after two seasons at Northwestern Oklahoma State University where he was the offensive coordinator, special teams coordinator and offensive line coach. His 2010 team won the conference championship and led the conference in rushing offense, sacks allowed and kickoff returns.





The ability to keep your quarterback upright in the pocket and healthy is one of, if not the, most important jobs of your offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Teaching proper pass sets, hand placement, aiming points, etc. is vital to getting this done. Being able to pick up defensive movement (slants/twists/blitzes/etc.) is just as important.



We teach four types of pass sets with our man protection:

One Set (vs. Inside Shade):


Post set. First step is six-inch step for width with inside foot. Second step is a drag with the outside foot that mirrors the first step. It is important that we maintain our stagger as we post set (inside foot up / outside foot back). Our aiming point is the midline of the defender (cover him up).


Two Set (vs. Head-Up Shade)


Square set. First step is a pop-it step in place with the inside foot. Second step mirrors the first step. Since our aiming point is the midline, we are already there by alignment. We simply pop our feet, snap our head back and react to the defender’s movement.


Three Set (vs. Outside Shade):


Kick set. First step is a six-inch step for width and depth with the outside foot. Second step is a drag with the inside foot that mirrors the first step. It is important that these two steps mirror each other to keep our shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. Aiming point is midline of the defender.


Four Set (vs. Wide Outside Shade):




Ghost set. This set is the exact same technique as a kick set except we will execute two kick slides to make up ground for the wide shade. We are still working for a midline aiming point.



Once we make our initial set to cover up our defender, it is important that we maintain our aiming point. We must keep our eyes open in order to react quickly to slants. We teach feet before hands at all times. In other words, react with your feet to stay in front of the defender rather than reacting with your hands and getting your shoulders turned. We always want to move the foot closest to the slant first (inside foot first on inside moves and outside foot first on outside moves). This keeps our base and protects versus a bull rush. We also want to maintain our pre-snap stagger of inside foot up and outside foot back.



Our preference is to pass off any twists in our man protection. The key to this is staying on level with your partner. It is especially important for the center to lose ground on his kick set (he will never post set) to get on level with the guards. If we are not on the same level, we are inviting penetration and we will get picked by twisters. With that being said, it is important to understand that if we do get off level, we will man off any twist.



By definition, it is much easier to pick up slants and twists with gap protection. Instead of being assigned to a defender, each lineman is responsible for an area (gap). The first thing we do when we install our gap protection is to teach our tackles to recognize defensive alignments. The tackle to the slide side of a protection will identify what we call the triangle. The triangle is made up of the three defenders closest to his sideline. If there are more defenders aligned outside the box than there are receivers there is an edge pressure threat. If there are the same number of defenders outside the box and receivers then there is not an edge pressure threat. The exception to this rule is if an inside linebacker walks out of the box. This would mean an automatic edge pressure threat.

To see these concepts in action, click on the video below:


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  • The visual aiming points he teaches in man protection against both inside and outside charges.
  • The coaching points he uses to block the “penetrator” and the “looper” in first level defensive line twists.
  • How he teaches the offensive Tackle the triangle concept to identify pre-snap pressure and the footwork he uses to block an immediate gap threat and a non-immediate gap threat.
  • Plus game film narrations on all these concepts.


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Regardless of whether you use man protection, slide protection, or a combination of the two, it is vitally important that you teach your players the proper techniques to account for defensive movements such as slants, twists, and blitzes. Recognizing pressures based on pre-snap alignment, down and distance situations, and post-snap movement will give your players the tools they need in order to be successful. 






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