The punter wants to angle his punting approach toward either sideline at a point between the 10- and 5-yard line markers to place the football inside the opponent’s 20-yard line at a position nearest the goal line.
The coffin corner is either corner of the playing field formed by the sideline and just in front of the end zone. A punter might try to place the ball so that it lands and goes out of bounds or is downed near the corner, thus forcing the receiving team to play very close to its goal line and maximizing the distance the receiving team must travel to score.
The coffin corner punt is a controlled drive punt normally driven at a lower trajectory out of bounds with the intent to pin the opponent deep in its own territory. The punter tends to hold the football on his approach slightly lower and longer before the drop. This natural adjustment produces more of a drive punt that’s more proficient in accuracy and distance. Because the objective is to have the football land completely out of bounds and off the field of play, minimal hang time is needed (because there’s no threat of a return).
Sometimes a punter attempts to punt for the corner when he’s outside of his range; in this case, the ball might simply roll dead deep in the opponent’s territory before going out of bounds. This might prove effective, but the coverage team must be alert in case of an attempt to return the football.
When punting to the right corner, the right-footed punter needs to consider aiming at a particular point out of bounds that’s closer to the goal line, preferably the 5-yard line. When punted correctly by a right-footed punter, the ball will spin clockwise and tend to fade to the right as it noses over. By aiming tighter to the goal line, the punter plays the natural fade and allows room for the punt to be effective. For example, if the punter truly aims at a point directly over the 5-yard line, as the football turns over and begins to fade, it should go out of bounds within the 10-yard line, well within the 20-yard line objective.
By aiming over the 5-yard line, the punter gives himself a 5-yard cushion to either side. This allows him to play it safe and keep the football out of the end zone, avoiding a touchback. This strategy enables him to place the football well within the 20-yard line and actually closer to the 10-yard line.
When punting to the left, the right-footed punter considers aiming at a particular point out of bounds that’s more away from the goal line, preferably the 10-yard line. Again this allows him to play the fade. As it noses over, the punt will fade naturally toward the right and go out of bounds, ideally near the 5-yard line mark or even closer.
A left-footed punter will need to reverse these instructions. The football will spin counterclockwise, tending to fade to the left as it noses over. This means a left-footed punter will need to aim closer to the goal line over the 5-yard line when going for the left corner and aim more toward the 10-yard line when going for the right corner.
The football is generally within the punt team’s 5-yard line (figure 7.5), creating a tight punting situation in which the normal depth of the punter’s alignment is minimized. The likeliness of an all-out rush increases the closer the punting team is to its own goal line. In this case, a hard rush is expected because the punter is standing deep in his team’s own end zone.