Pass Protection Drills
Players can work on pass protection drills during the off-season and the summer. Successful pass protection is a combination of balance and body control. Pass protection drills help each player gain control of his body and learn proper technique. All linemen should be able to work from a three-point or two-point stance on all pass protection drills.
Kick Sets and Vertical Sets
To begin, the linemen on the left side of the line execute three one-step kick sets on the command “set hut,” “set hut,” “set hut.” The linemen on the right side of the line then execute three one-step kick sets. Next, the linemen on the left side execute three one-step kick sets and then drive back inside on a two-step post to simulate blocking a pinching defender. The linemen on the right side then repeat the same pattern.
Next, the linemen on the left side execute two-step kick sets. The linemen on the right side then repeat the pattern. Guards do the same sets because the technique used is the same as fan protection versus the 50 defense. The guard has to take a two-step kick to block the 5-technique defensive tackle.
The tackles then work on the three-step kick slide. During this time, the guards work on performing the one-step kick and coming back inside on the two-step post to simulate blocking a pinching defender to the inside.
Finally, the linemen work on the vertical set. This includes the tackles and guards. On the vertical set, the tackle sets back three steps, and the guard sets back two steps. Then the linemen work on the sort technique and gap techniques. For the sort technique, there are three defenders and only two blockers.
All of this is done with nothing but sandbags. Use sandbags on the first and second sets of each drill. The third set is done on air; the lineman simply takes the set as if in a game. This allows the linemen to move with quickness after using the 20-pound sandbag on the first two sets.
When the guards and tackles perform these sets from the down stance, they hold the sandbags on the ground with both hands. When they take the post and kick sets, they need to bring the sandbag up and punch on the first step of the post or the first step on the kick set.
Kick Sets and Vertical Sets With Chest Pass
The second drill is similar to the first except it includes a chest pass at the end of the drill. In part 2 of the drill, the linemen post set out of the two-point stance holding the sandbags in both hands. After executing the post from the down stance, the linemen continue to post and punch four more times down the line. When the linemen hit the fifth step, they execute a punch and throw the sandbag like a chest pass in basketball. They then repeat this drill from the two-point stance. After the post set, they throw the sandbag on the fifth step.
In the double-punch drill, the blocker hits one defender and then quickly comes off to a second defender. This drill requires three players in each group. While one group is working, the next group should be ready to go as soon as the first group finishes. After the first group finishes and starts to rotate players, the coach begins coaching the next group on the drill. The coach continues coaching while each group rotates.
The group of three should include two bag holders and one offensive pass blocker. The first bag holder is set out on a loose outside shoulder technique so the offensive blocker has to take a one-step kick set and punch the bag holder. As soon as he punches the first bag holder, the blocker must come back inside and punch the second bag holder, who was off the ball and comes late.
My offensive linemen do the twist drill on Wednesdays and sometimes Thursdays during the season. Start with the left guard and left tackle. Two defenders execute a tackle-end twist or an end-tackle twist. The offensive tackle and the guard work against both of these games. Only work two at a time.
The left guard and center are now in focus. The two defenders work a tackle-nose twist or a nose-tackle twist on the center and guard. A defensive end can be substituted if the coach wants the offensive tackle to work on reacting against a player with more speed.
The center and right guard now work the same two twists—the tackle-nose and nose-tackle twist. Lastly, the drill moves to the right guard and right tackle; these two players work against the tackle-end twist and the end-tackle twist.
When the first-team players have each completed their two pickups, the second-team offensive linemen should rotate into the drill. Repeat the drill with the second-team players, starting on the left side.
The guards’ alignments are far off the football. The center must learn to snap the football and get back even or deeper on the line of scrimmage while the guards pick up the twist games.
One-on-One Pass Rush Versus Defensive Line
We do this drill for at least 9 minutes a day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays during the season. Start by lining up the five offensive linemen on the line of scrimmage. To begin the drill, the left tackle blocks the defensive end on two pass rushes. Next, the left guard blocks for two pass rushes versus the defensive tackle, followed by the center for two on a defensive tackle, the right guard for two on a defensive tackle, and then the right tackle for two on the defensive end. Then the second-team linemen rotate in to the drill and repeat the process.
Changing the snap count often will help the offensive blocker and will also make the defensive lineman watch the football. The center uses a shotgun snap (snapping the ball to the manager) on each repetition so the defensive lineman sees the ball being snapped.