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By Matthew Keith, Offensive Line Coach, College of St. Scholastica (MN)


It is never too late in the season to work on pass protection. See how Coach Keith turned around his squad in terms of protecting the QB. Read the report....

 



By Matthew Keith
Offensive Line Coach/Strength & Conditioning Coordinator
College of St. Scholastica (MN)
Twitter: @CoachMattKeith

 

 

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Introduction

Several components go into becoming an elite offensive line. It requires the knowledge and understanding of the game, great technique, the ability to recognize and react, and a gritty mentality. Obviously, when it comes to pass protection the offensive line’s job is to give the quarterback as much time as possible so he can make the correct read and throw.

This report will cover the drills you can incorporate in practice on a daily basis to improve the offensive line’s ability to successfully do their job. The drills below are set up as a progression, working on separate parts of pass progression technique and building on top of each other.

Mirror-Dodge

The purpose of the Mirror-Dodge drill is to get the feet moving while also working on good pass setting demeanor. Each player that is up will put a post foot on a line and try to keep that post foot there for the duration of the drill. We will work both feet as post feet as we rotate through. This helps players be more comfortable setting both ways. We also start with the players hands behind their back, emphasizing a big chest. The defensive player should move, changing directions, forcing the offensive player to mirror that movement with quick feet, staying in front of the defender.

A punch component can be added easily to this drill, working on timing of the punch as well.

Coaching points:

  • Quick, short steps
  • No hopping, keep feet in the ground as much as possible
  • Stay square to the line
  • Big chest, slight arc in the back
  • Work on being able to react quickly to change of direction, don’t get caught off balance
  • Should stay in a good demeanor the whole time
  • Upper body should have minimal movement

Tire Punch

If you have tractor tires or access to tractor tires this is a great drill to get a lot of reps for your linemen. With two guys up, have them punch the tire at each other. This is the next progression with adding the punch to moving feet, as well as working on timing up punches. With every lineman having different arm length, they have to practice exactly when to strike so they aren’t punching too early and lunging, or punching too late and allowing the defender to get into their chest.

We have the guys sit down in their pass demeanor and with their feet moving punch the tire. Their thumbs should be up, striking with the palms of their hands.

This drill can be done without the feet component and be just a punching drill for more inexperienced offensive linemen.

Coaching Points:

  • Keep a big chest
  • Keep hands on a track
    • Don’t drop hands after a punch, reload them to your chest
  • Avoid “catching” the tire
    • Hands should strike from the chest and push the tire back the opposite direction
    • Some guys will extend their hands to catch the tire when it’s coming at them, then lower it back into their chest, then punch.
    • Work on Punch, Recoil, Punch, Recoil, avoid catching
  • Arms should be fully extended on punch

Continue to the full-length version of this report…

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  • Coaching points and drill film of the Pass Umbrella Drill that Coach Keith uses to combine the skills of setting, posting, punching and reaction timing in pass protection.
  • Coaching points and drill film of the 5-Second Fight Drill that Coach Keith uses to develop the “internal clock” of offensive linemen in pass protection.
  • Coaching points and drill film of the Pass Wave Drill that Coach Keith uses to teach linemen the proper reaction off various pass rush moves.
  • Bonus: Practice video!

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Conclusion:

Repetition is important. Drilling technique to the point where the players don’t have to think about it and it becomes a habit can be the difference between winning a block and giving up a sack. The drills discussed can create a progression and be used to help new linemen learn technique and mentality. For inexperienced offensive linemen, these drills can be simplified so that they are can work on very specific aspects of pass pro. For the more experienced players, these drills can be built up and be more comprehensive, working on different aspects at the same time. These drills can also be adjusted depending on what techniques you’d like to use for your linemen.

Meet Coach Keith: Matt Keith is completed his first year as the offensive line coach at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN. In 2016, Keith’s line allowed 20 less sacks from the previous season. Prior to that, Keith served as the offensive line coach at Beloit College in Beloit, WI in 2015. Keith graduated from the University of Mount Union where he played offensive line for four seasons. During his time at Mt. Union, the team won four conference championships and one national championship.

 

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