Find out how Greenville College road the technical aspects of the trap block to averaging over 350 yards per game on the ground in 2013.
By Jeff Disandro
Offensive Line Coach / Special Teams Coordinator
Editor’s Note: Jeff DiSandro returned to Greenville College in 2014 for a second time, having previously coached at the college from 2006 to 2009. He served as the run game coordinator and eventually took over as the offensive coordinator in 2009. DiSandro will coach the offensive line and coordinate the special teams as well as assist Coach Schomaker with administrative assignments.
In DiSandro’s first year as an offensive coordinator, the 2009 Panther team won the UMAC Championship and advanced to the NCCAA Victory Bowl where they played Geneva College. That year, the Panthers recorded some of the biggest wins in school history, defeating LaGrange and Washington University for the first time. The Panther offense produced All-American TE Zach Fredrich and UMAC co-conference player of the year RB Anthony Ambers.
DiSandro left Greenville for a position on Eric Hehman's staff at NCAA Division II Malone University. While there, he served as the offensive coordinator in 2010 and 2011. In his two year span at Malone, his offenses managed to move into the school record books in 18 separate categories including rush yards per game, scoring in a game, and total yards in a game. In 2010, the Malone offense finished eighth nationally in rushing yards per game and were ranked 10th nationally in the running game. He worked with the quarterbacks and offensive line while at Malone.
The trap play is a staple for many offenses especially here at Greenville College. We love the flexibility of the play against varied fronts as well as the great angles that it creates. Running it effectively requires an extreme attention to detail and this article will take you into the essentials that we include for our linemen to make them into great trap blockers.
Offensive Line standards
- Aggressive start
- Aggressive finish
- Use your technique
Standards are a big deal in coaching and when coaching a position. As the coach and leader of our offensive line I have to decide what I want our standards to be. Then as a teacher I have to find the best way to clearly and easily communicate those standards to our players. The most important standard for us on the offensive line is effort. We want our offensive line to play with, as we call it, extra – ordinary effort. For us, that is more than “110%”. After declaring that standard of effort we then want to quantify effort. We want to make effort gradable. Two of our core standards are aggressive start and aggressive finish. These two phrases, and their definition, quantify effort for us up front. I think most coaches know what it means to get off the ball and finish a block but I have found that most players don’t think like a coach and/or share similar insights.
So, to clearly define our standards for our players we say this: aggressive start in the run game means how quickly do you close the cushion between you and the defender (from the snap). And aggressive start in the pass game means how quickly did you get from your stance into your set, or how fast did your helmet move? I am a big believer in watching wide (I also watch the tight!) as an offensive line coach. I think I can get a great feel for how they are starting and finishing by watching the wide.
Our second core standard is aggressive finish. Again, I think all OL coaches know what this means. We communicate this to our line by using the phrase “knockdowns.” We teach the OL to play aggressive and nasty and we want this attitude from snap to whistle. Anytime an offensive lineman puts a defender on the ground we call that a knockdown. We tally these throughout the season and declare a winner at the end of the season. This also serves as a tiebreaker for our tough man award; which is another competition amongst the lineman group. Our tough man acknowledges practice consistency. Consistency is a major factor in highly productive offensive lines and we try and find fun ways to create that culture.
Our third core standard for the offensive line is use your technique. Even though we want them to play full speed all the time we also want them to use good technique as well. So much of good line play is using a run and pass demeanor and staying on your feet throughout much of the block (until a knockdown) and we don’t want to sacrifice those things.
For the remainder of the article I want to discuss the trap play and talk heavily about the down block and its technique while also introducing some of our pulling technique for this play. The trap play has been a series that compliments the tight zone triple option for us. Before I jump right into the trap though, I’d like to start with the stance.
I believe all of the technical portions of line play start with a great stance. We coach the stance from day one. In my opinion, so many technical issues that come up with lineman can be traced back to the stance. Some common examples in my mind are being short on aim points / landmarks and/or the lack of hips and inability to generate power with a block. Being short on aim points can be traced back to footwork issues, which can be corrected with adjustments in the stance. A lineman with enough athletic ability and strength may not be creating power because of an inefficient stance. Power is the combination of strength and speed so the stance has to allow for the lineman to have speed to the aiming point and maximum use of his hips and core.
I also believe that coaching philosophies dealing with lineman and stances shouldn’t be rigid and set in stone. Much of the line play I have learned from the cool clinic on stances is about treating a 6’7” lineman different than a 5’10” lineman. Also, since we are a shotgun triple option offense we use a different stance compared to a pro style balanced offensive attack.
Trap Rules for Interior Lineman
PSG – Covered - Influence, Uncovered – Down
OC – Down block for pulling guard
BSG – Pull and trap B Gap defender
Covered – Down Block
We are very big on commonality of techniques. We try and carry over as much teaching as possible. So for us, everything in the run game will revolve around base block fundamentals. The only things that really change are the angles, distance and possibly the timing a block. So at first, we approach the down block as a base block versus an inside shade. Also, we always think about line play from a ground up mentality. A lineman must know where he is going to put his feet, hands and eyes on every play.
With PSG uncovered, both our center and play side guard will be down blocking. They will use a lateral step. The step is toward the cylinder of the body and it helps to keep the shoulders from turning too quickly. Their second step, we refer to it as a lead step, should hit the ground quickly and be slightly inside the inside foot of the defender. Lead steps should gain ground. We do use “common sense” footwork and will coach our lineman versus a tight shade to abandon “lateral” step and use a more aggressive step into the cylinder of the body (roll step – gains ground and gets width at the same time). Our third step is always a “widen” step and from our fit position we drive and snap our hips.
The Trap Pull
The BSG will pull and trap the B Gap defender. This verbiage should include a wide variety of situations like DE slant and tuff linebackers in the odd fronts. In an odd front this will (more than likely) turn out to be a long trap if the defense stays base. We do teach the pulling guard to be “off” as far as vertical levels go. This helps him clear the offensive centers down block.
The BSG will use a drop step and point his toe towards the outside foot of the defender he will trap. He still wants to throw his shoulders forward some even though he is drop stepping to clear the center’s down block. His second step will get inside of the inside foot of the defender he is trapping. He wants to have an extreme inside out path and giving his feet landmarks helps achieve this. We do not want run demeanor through the pull but we do want a great base on contact.
Eyes, Contact and Hand Placement
The BSG wants to rip his inside arm through the inside hip of the defender (left guard pulling right means he will rip his right arm through hip). We refer to rip and say the inside arm because of where the guard is pre snap. He also wants his helmet and inside shoulder slightly above that inside hip area we are focusing on trapping. We want him to achieve run demeanor on contact (not through the pull). If done properly he may end up using the inside half of his body to ensure the defender has been trapped. Most times the pulling guard will end up using the majority of his shoulder when making contact with the defender. It is very important that the pulling guard drives his feet on contact and even re traces the defender if a perfect fit hasn’t been achieved and the defender falls back into the play.
Trap Rules for Offensive Tackles
PST – Split linebacker or Mike
BST – Split linebacker or backside stack
Tackle blocking on the trap play is fairly simple. The tackles are responsible for inside releasing their B gaps and climbing to the second level for linebacker assignments (mentioned above). We talk in terms of base blocking linebackers at the second level for trap but the “tempo” of the back and play is different than zone.
What You're Missing:
Join XandOLabs.com exclusive Insiders program and gain full access to the entire clinic article including:
- The details behind a great trap blocking stance including multiple variations for specific situations.
- How Greenville's players have perfected the down block.
- How Coach Disandro coaches his players to perfect the "Influence" technique.
- Details for coaching the Offensive Tackles footwork and hand placement.
- Plus game film of each of the Trap concept in action.
I want to thank X and O labs for this opportunity and the chance to review this article. I really enjoy the website and I read it regularly. I think this is great for professional development. Feel free to contact me at any time for additional information.