By Justin Iske - @justiniske
Offensive Line Coach
Fort Hays State University
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.
A debate that often comes up amongst o-line coaches is whether to set with high hands or low hands in pass protection. While there are several successful coaches that teach their offensive linemen to set with high hands to protect their chest, we are of the school that teaches low hands in pass sets. Much of what we teach has been stolen from Paul Alexander, the O-Line Coach of the Bengals and other coaches that have spoken at the COOL Clinic in Cincinnati over the years.
Why Low Hands?
In my playing days and early coaching career we were taught to pass set with our hands in front of our chest or eyes so that we could protect our chest and to execute a six-inch punch when the defender came within range. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but we now believe that we have found a better way of doing things. The preverbal light bulb went off when I worked a summer camp and was helping out with d-line pass rush drills. Every move that we worked on in that camp, the coach would set up the offensive player with his hands up so that the defender had a target to knock down. Common sense told us that if we set with low hands and don’t give the defense a target we can slow them down. And that is how we have taught it ever since.