By Blair Hoenk
WRs Coach/Pass Game Coordinator
Caledonia High School (MI)
At Caledonia High School, we are primarily a 20 personnel spread football team on offense. We pride ourselves in being a balanced attack that is versatile and able to combat the variety of defenses we see in a given year. One of our core offensive tenets is to equate numbers in the box by attaching perimeter bubble screens to our run game and throw them when we have the defense out-numbered and/or out-leveraged to the perimeter. This article will go in depth on the coaching points and techniques we coach in those schemes. In addition, we utilize a variety of slow screens to combat active defenses that are giving us pressure looks or are over-pursuing.
Perimeter Blocking Identification
All blockers are taught to block the most dangerous. Never pass up a defender in your area. Our process for Identifying who to block goes as follows –
We simply count all offensive and defensive players on all levels within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage from the outside-in. So that our #1 blocks their #1, #2 blocks #2, etc.
Note: 8 yards is a general rule. If you are facing an active defense that has lots of post snap rotation or has very aggressive safeties that week, you may modify it to 10 yards or more.
Most of the time, our pre-snap read is reliable and players are correct to block who they identified pre-snap. Remember, we cannot pass up any immediate threats. All blockers must have active eyes checking for new threats inside of them if their # is soft or bailing.
The one major adjustment is a push-crack that we rep when drilling perimeter blocking. This means if the defense’s #1 is soft or bailing, our #1 receiver will check inside to see if any defender in his vision is firing on the bubble. This is common in defenses whose safeties are responsible for forcing run plays inside. If this is happening, we run the push-crack. Once the decision to crack has been made, that is who you are blocking.
Technique - Perimeter Blocking
We want this block to happen as far downfield as possible. If the defender is in man coverage, we simply teach our receivers to run them off as far downfield as possible. If the defender is in zone or peaking in the backfield, we will burst out of our stance and press vertical down the field. This gives us the best opportunity for the block to occur downfield and not too early. Continue to press until there is a 3-yard cushion. Once in position -
- Basketball-guarding position: Your feet and hips should be the same is if you were guarding a point guard at the top of the key in basketball. Lower your center of gravity and feet should be just under or outside your hips. This position keeps us athletic and in position to be physical.
- Mirroring: Stay square, not turning your shoulders and maintain position between the defender and the ball carrier giving the runner a two-way go. When the defender fires to tackle the ball carrier, continue staying square and basketball shuffle laterally to get your head across and cut off their pursuit.
- Engage: The first two components are the more important aspects of having good perimeter blocking. Without those, we cannot be in position to be physical. We work a Shock-pull technique.
- Squeezing grapes underneath our armpits to keep hands inside, strike defender with tight elbows and thumbs up fitting up in the lower portion of their breastplate.
- Maintain hands inside, grab cloth and shock/pull defender into you so you stay attached.