With the infusion of no-back offenses that has infiltrated the college landscape nowadays, it’s become necessary to fine tune protection to make sure that your QB is protected at all times. Find out how Nevada did it here...
By Jim Hofher
Associate Head Coach
University of Nevada
Editor’s Note: The following clinic report was put together by X&O Labs Senior Research Manager Mike Kuchar early this off-season. Coach Hofher, previously the offensive coordinator at the University of Delaware, has since moved on to become the Associate Head Coach the University of Nevada in Reno.
With the infusion of no-back offenses that has infiltrated the college landscape nowadays, it’s become necessary to fine tune protection to make sure that your QB is protected at all times. In order to do this, it’s necessary to make sure all five offensive linemen are accounting for five potential rushers. Now while this concept may be simple in nature, defenses present a variety of threats from a pressure standpoint that will force and offense to make an offensive line adjust. Jim Hofher, explains how he adjusts to those threats and more importantly how he avoids them altogether.
Benefits of Five-Man Protection:
- Gets the back involved in the route- Too many of these running backs don’t know how to correctly block (and most don’t want to ) so why not get them out and let them do what they are supposed to do- handle the ball?
- Good against pressures- The defense can dial up any pressure it wants, as long as the offensive line uses its indicators (which Hofher discusses) it can handle any pressure.
- Eliminates confusion with man blocking- No simpler way to protect than to identify defenders and block them- this protection concept gives you the opportunity to do so.
- Marry it with quick game routes- This gets the ball out in a hurry, leaving defenders scrambling to chase the ball. But for Hofher, this was his main protection, both in the quick and drop back game.
Philosophy of Protection
"You must be willing to leave your Center on an island," is the first thing that Hofher told us about this protection- which is the case in most five-man protection schemes, particularly against three-down fronts. Now, there are ways to get him help- which he will explain later- but it helps to have a strong protector anyway at that spot. The key in the protection lies in the play side tackle who will work with his adjacent guard to handle their assignments. It is his responsibility to involve the guard to his side, based on what he sees. "It’s different, but it works," says Hofher. "The lineman come to understand one code is the name of the protection for quick game routes. It tells them they don’t have to battle forever. That’s when they know at their will they can use some cuts (cut blocking). We’ve figured out 99 percent of the problems in five-man protection and we know how to address them.
Against Even Fronts
Against Even fronts with a "G" scheme, the Guard can do one of two things. "If it’s a gap or shade technique, the Center tells the guard to "pop" because Center has him. If he’s wider, the Guard can take him and the Center will pop. He has to be wide enough were there is comfort and confidence that the Guard can take him because of the threat of the inside rush," said Hofher. "It’s still a man scheme. The Center gives a code. If there is empty on both sides, the popper just scans. He doesn’t have to be in a hurry. He drops straight back."
Against Odd Fronts
Just like most "big on big" protections, against Odd Fronts, both Guards can "pop" because they are uncovered (Diagram 9). What pop means is that they can leave the middle of protection so they can go in either direction. "They both have the triangle on their side," said Hofher. "The triangle is the space from the Center all the way out to their tackle and then back to them. They will both eyeball the inside linebacker as part of their triangle on their side."
To see video of Coach Hofher’s five-man protection scheme, click on the link below:
When it is clear to the QB that there are no deep safeties, the QB'S must protect against a threat of 6 defenders, whether there are 6 defenders threatening the LOS or not. That is when the QB must move the protection, as a 5 man zone protection, in a direction, with full knowledge there will be 1 free defender on the backside of the Zone's movement. It is imperative that the QB moves his launch point to remain behind the center of the moving zone protection.
What You're Missing:
Right now, members of X&O Labs' Insiders website are reading the full-length version of Coach Hofher’s clinic report including:
How he trains his offensive Tackles to identify potential pressures and the code words they use to set the protection.
How he frees up unoccupied Guards to work across the formation to help on dominant down defenders or second level rushers.
His pre-snap adjustments to six-man Cover Zero pressure and five-man Zone Pressure.
Plus actual game footage of this protection.