Coach Acklin applies his understanding of the defensive side of the ball to create looks that slow down and confuse punt units resulting in less pressure on the punter, more opportunities for fakes, and better punt coverage.
By Tommy Acklin
Frankfort HS (KY)
As a Defensive Coordinator, I spend a great deal of time with my defensive unit with adjusting to motions and shifts. We define motion as one offensive player moving to change the demographic of the offensive set, and a shift is when two or more move from one side of the formation and reset on the other. Motions and shifts attack the Integrity of defensive structure. This is done by moving the strength of the formation, to deceptively camouflage attacks to and away. I’ve applied this same concept with our Punt Protection unit.
Our base formation is Quads, in which we have the ability to align right or left. Quads itself places a great amount of stress on a defense; however, the potency intensifies when nine players with eligible numbers are constructed into the formation (Diagram 1).
Protection and Coverage
Although our motions and shifts force defensive units to align properly, and identify which players are eligible; our two main objectives are protection and coverage. We employ a man protection scheme, in which our snapper always takes number 1 away from the foot of our punter. The guard to the punter’s foot will be assigned to number 1, and after he makes his identification our tackle and end will take numbers 2 and 3. Our punter is assigned to number 4 to his foot, just as a quarterback would be within a spread offense. If we have a #5 rusher, we will motion one of the quads over to chip #4, and the punter is responsible for #5 (Diagram 4).
Our five eligible receivers provide coverage with vertical releases to their assigned landmarks. For example if the ball is kicked down the middle of the field, our outside coverage would go to the bottom of the numbers. Number 2 and 4 within the Quads would go to the hash marks, and 3 would go to the ball. After our protection hears the ball kicked, they will release and form the F E N C E around the ball. Our Punter will serve as our Safety (Diagram 5).
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- Multiple ways that Coach Acklin keeps the opposition guessing with formations variations and tags.
- How his teams approach fakes as it pertains to the way the return team decides to scheme their return.
- Drills that Coach Acklin uses to prepare his cover units and punter to carry out their scheme.
- Plus game film of these concepts in action and more…
In conclusion, our motions and shifts allow us to take an offensive approach when punting the football. When your opponent knows how you will align on every punt, it’s much easier for them to establish pressure and returns. We do not want our opponents to be comfortable. We want them spending a great percentage of time in preparation for what we have shown, and what we may show. Our team philosophy is to attack from The National Anthem to The Benediction, and it’s fully complimented by the design of our punt unit.