By Ryan Schleusner
Offensive Line Coach
The cut block can be a highly effective weapon in almost any offense when used properly. A well timed and executed cut block can level the playing field at a position where you are usually athletically outmatched by the guy across the ball from you. The effects of these blocks include:
- It immediately takes the defender you are tasked with blocking out of the equation on the play.
- It can put a great deal of doubt in a defender’s head about how hard and fast he wants to play when he knows there is a good chance he will wind up on the turf if he goes full speed.
We teach cut blocks throughout our offensive structure. They can be used in any of the following concepts (each of which I will detail later in the report).
- Quick game pass protection
- Backside of outside zone
- In space on screens
- Trick plays
- Backside punch/hinge on gap plays
- Down blocks in any pin/pull type of schemes
Cutting in Quick Game Pass Protection
The main goal of a cut block in quick game pass protection is to get a defender’s hands down so that the pass does not get tipped and intercepted. Even if the block fails to get the defender all the way to the ground, a properly time cut and where the player accelerates his body into the defender should succeed in forcing him to put his hands down. Thus, his hands will be unavailable to swat down a quick pass. The biggest coaching point in cutting while in quick game pass protection is to make sure you get into your pass set quickly (high hat). This will tip the defender off that it is a pass play and get him to fire off the ball quickly.
As with anything in pass protection, it is important to set to a landmark. When pass setting to set up a cut block, it is important to be aggressive while maintaining a half-man relationship. We teach them to aim for the inside number of the defender and to get there quickly. The lineman must avoid being too far away from the defender when the timing is right.
As a base quick game rule, we talk about getting at two or three kicks before throwing a cut block (depending on the speed of the kick and athleticism). As the defender comes towards them, it is important to wait until he is an arm’s reach away then he should drop his shoulder and drive off his far foot. He is aiming to get across his body on the cut. As he drops his shoulder and accelerates his body, we talk about throwing an uppercut aimed at the inside groin of the far leg. This will help accelerate your body and provide enough torque to finish the block cleanly.
It is important for the players to remember to communicate when they are cut blocking. The players next to them need to know of these intentions so that you can work together do not get called for an illegal chop block.
Film Notes: In this first clip, you will see the left guard take a good set, accelerate his body efficiently and finish the cut block by taking the defender to the ground. Both the right tackle and right guard in this clip have near misses for separate reasons. The right tackle attempts the cut too early which results in him missing his aiming point and make contact more towards the shin area than the groin. Because he executes the block quickly and with a good amount of force, he still makes a good impact on the defender. The right guard’s block is unsuccessful because he does not accelerate his body fast enough and does not finish with an uppercut. This makes the contact weak and results in the defender not reaching the ground. The left tackle opted for a quick set, which can be a good option if you don’t feel confident the defender will be coming off the ball hard enough to get a good cut.