According to John Strollo, the offensive line coach at Ball State University, force can be produced in three ways: push (straighten limbs to expel), pull (flex limbs together) and torque (twist trunk to throw). So, Coach Strollo made a commitment last season to focus on the torque movement and play with one hand foremost in pass protection. Find out how in in this article.
By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
The following research was conducted in part of X&O Labs special report on “Man Pass Protection Drills.”
Concept of Circular Force: Ball State University
According to John Strollo, the offensive line coach at Ball State University, force can be produced in three ways: push (straighten limbs to expel), pull (flex limbs together) and torque (twist trunk to throw). So, Coach Strollo made a commitment last season to focus on the torque movement and play with one hand foremost in pass protection. As he told us, “every sport is played with one foot foremost and one hand foremost including football. Most are, except for offensive linemen and weightlifting.” Coach Strollo found that linemen seldom move anyone with their punch. They can more effectively move him with their trunk, their legs and their hips. In order to do this, Coach Strollo teaches his players to use two hands to precisely apply force to a defender. One hand is foremost and anchors to the opponent while the other hand is held back. The coaching points of the circular force drill are below (Diagram 16).
According to Coach Strollo, “it’s not the arm, it’s the twisting trunk that makes the force. Torque, or throwing, doesn’t change your center of gravity. It in fact allows you to make force but keeps your knees bent.”
To see drill film of the Circular Force Drill, click on the video below:
Wrench Drill: Ball State University
Coach Strollo uses the Wrench Drill for offensive linemen to regain leverage in pass protection when defensive linemen step through (get their foot behind) or stack the offensive lineman. According to Coach Strollo, “the purpose of the drill is to negate the stack. If a defender can get a step through he wins. The idea is for an offensive lineman to wrench himself through by pulling to regain a frontal position.” The coaching points of the drill are below: (Diagram 17)
To see drill film of the Wrench Drill, click on the video below:
Researchers Discover the 44 Most-Trusted Drills Top O-Line Coaches Use to Teach Pass Protection Every Day
By Mike Kuchar,
Senior Research Manager
Everything is connected... The eyes control the feet and the feet control the hands.
How can you expect a lineman to block a pass rusher if his eyes are not set on an aiming point?
How can you expect a lineman to effectively stalemate a rusher with a punch if his feet are not in the right place?
As J.B. Grimes, the offensive line coach at Auburn University, famously said: "The foot bone is connected to the shin bone. The shinbone is connected to the knee bone. The knee bone is connected to the..." You get the point.
This is why my team and I set out on a course of study to research the drill work that offensive line coaches are doing daily to reinforce the eyes, hands and feet of offensive linemen in pass protection.
We call this special report...
The Man Pass Protection Drills Study
This in-depth special report includes offensive line coaches from some of the most successful programs in defending the passer based on the 2014 season at both the FBS and FCS level.
In fact, the offensive line coaches that contributed to this special report surrendered a meager average of less than 1.5 sacks per game.
What you will see in this special report are 44 everyday pass protection drills from some of the most efficient offensive line coaches in the country. These drills include corresponding coaching points with practice video illustrating exactly what these coaches do to reinforce the techniques needed in man pass protection.
Here's a quick look at who contributed to this special report:
- Herb Hand, Offensive Line Coach, Penn State University
- Art Kehoe, Offensive Line Coach, the University of Miami (allowed 1.6 sacks per game in 2014)
- John Strollo, Offensive Line Coach, Ball State University (13 sacks allowed in 2014, 12th in FBS)
- Cameron Norcross, Offensive Line Coach, Fresno State University
- Brian Callahan, Offensive Line Coach, Western Michigan University (allowed 1.8 sacks per game in 2014)
- Chennis Berry, Offensive Line Coach, Southern University (8 sacks allowed in 2014, 4th in FCS)
- Vin Giacalone, Offensive Line Coach, Valparaiso University (5 sacks allowed in 2014, 1st in FCS)
- Brandon Jones, former Offensive Line Coach at East Carolina University (371 passing yards per game in 2014, 3rd in FBS), currently at Cal Berkeley
- Jonathan Leible, Offensive Line Coach, Central Connecticut State University (11 sacks allowed in 2014, 10th in FCS)
- Ryan Stanchek, Offensive Line Coach, Alcorn State University (7 sacks allowed in 2014, 3rd in FCS)
Here's exactly what this study includes...
My research staff and I studied the most effective everyday pass protection drills from some of the best offensive line coaches in the country. These are the very same drills our contributors use everyday that resulted in the low average of just 1.5 sacks per game.
The Man Pass Protection Drills Study is presented in three cases...
Case One: Drilling the Feet of O-Linemen in Man Pass Protection
Of the contributors in this study, more than half suggested that the feet are more important than the hands and the reasoning is simple... the feet put an offensive lineman in the best position to stop an inside charge and allows them to get enough vertical depth to defend an outside charge. While many offensive line coaches teach different techniques on the punch, the footwork to get him there remains vital.
Here's a small sample of what you'll find in this case:
- How Coach Callahan varies the footwork of his offensive linemen when blocking a head-up alignment, outside eye alignment, outside shoulder alignment and wide shade alignment.
- Why Coach Strollo classifies two types of rushers: a giant rusher and a jet rusher... and the footwork he uses to teach his players to block each.
- Why identifying the "hard point" of the defender is key to negating an up field pass rush.
- The difference between a "trail technique" and a "cover up technique" that Coach Berry uses to teach his guards and tackles respectively.
- The Z Drill used at Western Michigan to incorporate the kick and post footwork of offensive linemen.
- The Sets and Redirect Drill used at Central Connecticut State University to teach offensive linemen how to block tight outside shades, wide outside shades, head up shades and far inside shades.
- The Set, Punch, Mirror Drill used at East Carolina which teaches offensive lineman to keep their pass demeanor while focusing on an aiming point on the rusher.
- The Christmas Tree Set Drill that Coach Hand uses at Penn State University to defend the following rushes: wide alignment defender on kick foot, tight alignment defender on kick foot, wide alignment defender on power foot and tight alignment defender on power foot.
- When Coach Kehoe will use a jump set, lateral set and vertical set... and how he drills each of them.
- The Posture with Sandbags Drill to teach the proper pass demeanor for offensive linemen.
- Plus video on all these drills.
Case 2: Drilling the Hands of O-Linemen in Pass Protection
While the feet come first, the hands come second. In case two, we researched the various ways in which offensive line coaches were teaching the placement and strike force of the hands in pass protection.
Here's a small sample of what you'll find in case two...
- The medicine ball progression used at East Carolina University to train the hand placement of offensive linemen.
- The Circular Force concept that Coach Strollo is now teaching at Ball State, which reinforces the "torque" and "throw" element of pass protection.
- The Wrench Drill Coach Strollo uses to teach linemen to regain leverage on defenders who have "stacked them" in a pass rush situation.
- The Tunches Punches Drill used by Coach Kehoe at the University of Miami, which is modeled after martial arts techniques.
- The Dig Drill that Coach Callahan uses at Western Michigan, which reinforces stability on the post foot to defend counter moves.
- The Batter Up Drill used by Coach Giacalone at Valparaiso University, which emphasizes the timing of the punch technique.
- The Bear Claw Drill used by Coach Hand at Penn State which teaches offensive linemen to maintain pad leverage when defending against the bull rush.
- Plus video on all these drills.
Case 3: Identifying and Blocking First Level Twists
While many of the techniques in the previous two cases can be applied when blocking stagnant or stationary targets, the greater issue in pass protection is coaching players how to defend movement particularly at the first level. This case is devoted to the techniques and drill work associated with defending E/T and T/E games, zone pressures and man pressures in pass protection.
Here's a small sample of what you'll find in case three...
- Each contributor weighs in on what pressure indicators they teach their offensive linemen to identify pre-snap, including the responsibilities of the center and tackles in communication.
- Why Coach Stanchek at Alcorn State University always teaches his guard and tackle to use a vertical set when defending a 3-techique and a 5-technique aligned to the same side even in the quick game.
- The "Use Technique" that Coach Callahan uses at Western Michigan to defend to outside rushers in odd front structures.
- Why Coach Leible at Central Connecticut State University tells his linemen to "bang the penetrator and accept the looper" against the twist game.
- Why Coach Berry at Southern University teaches his linemen to "shuffle to the looper" against the twist game.
- The Sled Switch Drill used by Coach Giacalone at Valparaiso University which teaches linemen to communicate and react quickly to twists.
- The Three Man Weave Drill used by Coach Berry, which teaches the three technique progression of stopping the penetrator and shuffling to the looper.
- The Sin Drill used by Coach Callahan, which is the only circumstance that allows for the dropping of the post foot in pass protection.
- The Games Drill Coach Kehoe uses that pits a guard and tackle against two rushers in man protection.
- The Odd Front Man Scheme Drill used by Coach Leible which teaches uncovered guards to mirror block, the bubble linebackers in odd front structures.
- Plus video on all these drills.
VIDEO Bonus: Plus, this brand-new special report, The Man Pass Protection Drills Study, includes over 46 videos featuring practice, game and tutorial videos. You'll be able to read about the drill and coaching points and then watch these same drills in real practice situations. These are drill videos directly from our contributors!
The full special report, The Man Pass Protection Drills Study, is available right now in X&O Labs' exclusive membership website, Insiders.
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