By Rob Noel
Defensive Line Coach
Stony Brook University
With passing continuing to take over offensive strategy in the game of football, developing ways to pressure and impact the QB takes on a growing importance every day. While strategy and scheme can help in this endeavor, at the end of the day equipping your edge rushers with the tools to be successful is paramount to affecting the QB. This report will help to show some of the ways we develop our edge pass rush at Stony Brook.
Step 1: Identify Who Your Edge Pass Rushers Are
The first step in developing your edge pass rush is identifying which players are best equipped to win on the edge. A common misconception is that these players must come exclusively come from your DL pool. While we emphasize working with and developing our DL to be good edge rushers, we also look for players from other positions who have the length, twitch and agility to be effective attacking the QB. In our offseason training, we put all of our defensive players through agility drills used to simulate the skills required to be an effective pass rusher. Through evaluation of these drills, we create a pool of candidates to get after the QB. Once we have identified these players, we will use scheme, alignment, and sub packages to get them in position for success. This is especially true in obvious passing situations, but we will do some things on mixed downs to get our better rushers in positions to rush also.
Step 2: The Get Off
The first three steps are critical in the success of an edge rush and we work tirelessly at trying to make these as fast and explosive as possible. This comes from working on eliminating wasted movement and making our steps as fast as possible. Here are some drills we use to help us in developing this skill:
Rabbit Get Off: This drill teaches the DL to react to OL movement and explode off the ball as hard and fast as possible. The DL partner up with another player who simulates being an OL and is aligned 1 ½ yards away. The coach points at the OL to get him to start backpedaling at 75% speed. On OL movement the defender explodes out and runs as hard as he can to reach behind the OL and tag off on his opposite hip. This helps to train the defender to eat up the OL cushion and works to instill great get off.
1 Legged Get Off: This is something that we will occasionally incorporate into our regular daily get off drill. The DL aligns like normal but get into a 4-point stance and take their back leg off the ground. A partner stands behind them and places the palm of their hand against the DL heel to help them balance. On movement, the DL uses all their weight on their front foot to drive out as fast as possible. We emphasize that they still gain ground on their first step even though their other leg is in the air. This helps to teach the DL to load weight on front foot and gets them used to driving off of the front leg.
To study film of this drill, click on the video below: