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Stalk Block

Stalk Block

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Published by: coachweav88 on May 11, 2009
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Dominate the Perimeter
by: Ron Brown
July 2002Copyright American Football Monthly
I have one of the greatest privileges in the game of football. I get to teach young men in this self-oriented,egocentric world how to do the most unselfish, team centered activity in football – BLOCK! Wide receiversno less.You know, the ‘pretty boys’ – the smooth, silky, dancers and prancers with their jerseys neatly tucked,clean uniforms with no mud and no grass stains. You know those guys in their slick upright stances beforethe ball is snapped, and their dazzling routes, catches, and runs. It’s fun to watch those wide receivers inthe passing game isn’t it? But what do these ‘white collar’ speedsters do when the offense is running theball?I know what they do at Nebraska. In a sense, they take off those white shirts and ties and put on overalls,a hard hat, grab their lunch pail and block like wild men. Almost every receivers coach that I’ve evertalked to at every level – junior high, high school, college and professional – want receivers who will blockferociously. But in most cases there is a gap between ‘want’ and ‘have.’ Most ‘want’ to see the opponent’sdefensive perimeter dominated by their receivers, but few ‘have’ experienced that. What closes the gapbetween ‘want’ and ‘have’ is EMPHASIS and REWARD.For example, a wide receiver won’t make an All-American team on his blocking. He could be the bestblocking wide receiver in America, but unless he has high numbers in catches, yards and touchdowns hewill seldom get recognized. Therefore, as his coach, you must recognize him and reward him openly andoften for the unselfish and unheralded job of blocking the perimeter.At Nebraska we run the ball 75-80 percent of the time. Over half of our running plays come wide to theperimeter. To run the ball effectively, the defensive perimeter must be blocked. Therefore the widereceivers at Nebraska must not only block the perimeter but DOMINATE the perimeter. It is non-negotiable at Nebraska. It is highly emphasized, appreciated, and rewarded when done well. It has‘playing time consequences’ when it does not happen.With this emphasis comes accountability from other position players and coaches. Our football teamcounts on the wide receivers and their coach – yours truly – to deliver the goods. Nothing like a little peerpressure, huh?The greatest reward I know for a wide receiver who emphasizes his blocking is to see a ball carrier sprintinto the end zone largely due to a block from him.There are several types of blocks wide receivers must execute. In this article, I want to zero in on the“Stalk Block.” The ‘Stalk Block’ is a one-on-one block where the wide receiver is usually blocking adefensive back on the perimeter while the ball carrier is running wide that way. The term “stalk” is like alion stalking its prey. The lion is moving to its prey under control, leveraging the distance while gettingclose enough to pounce on its dinner.The wide receiver cannot charge the defensive back recklessly and try to take the home run swing in theopen field. The athletic defensive backs will make you miss. Therefore, in teaching the “Stalk Block”technique, I break it down into four areas – ABCD:
A. Alignment of the defensive back
This is a pre-snap read. Based on the defensive back’s pre-snap alignment, the wide receiver fixes hisaiming point in his mind. If the defensive back is deeper than five yards from the line of scrimmage, thewide receiver’s aiming point will be to get his nose to the outside jersey number of the defensive back.That is ultimately where he will want to make contact.The defensive back, if loose, has probably been told to be a “secondary force” man. This means he won’tbe the primary defender to turn the perimeter run inside, but he will eventually have to support turning the
Page 1 of 4American Football Monthly, Copyrighted Material5/10/2009http://www.americanfootballmonthly.com/Subaccess/printer_friendly.php?article_id=4670
play inside, keeping the outside part of his body free. If the defensive back is five yards or less from thewide receiver then the wide receiver must be prepared for quicker support. Therefore, the aim point forthe wide receiver versus a closer defensive back is the inside number.
B. Bead
Getting a ‘bead’ is simply taking the proper leverage approach toward the defensive back. Once the widereceiver has ascertained the depth of the defensive back, he makes his approach. No matter what thedefensive back’s pre-snap depth is, the wide receiver should always come off the line of scrimmage withspeed. Make every run look like a pass initially so the defensive back does not ‘cheat.’If the defensive back is looser than five yards, the wide receiver should angle to the defensive back’soutside number on his jersey. If the defensive back is aligned outside of the wide receiver, the widereceiver should chase the outside number of the defensive back with an inside angle.At some point with the defensive back backpedaling and wide receiver chasing the outside number, thecushion between the two should diminish. When that cushion hits four yards, either because the widereceiver’s speed closed the cushion or the defensive back recognized the perimeter run and began tosupport, then the wide receiver gets into his “stalk.” (See Diagrams 1 and 2)
Diagram 1
Diagram 2
 The stalk position, remember, is an under control movement where your knees are bent, butt is sunk, feetslightly wider than shoulder width, and your feet are ‘buzzing’ in short, quick movements without crossingover or clicking the heels. It would be very similar to a basketball player defending a face up dribbler. Thewide receiver, when he’s hit the four-yard cushion while stalking, should continue under control toward thedefensive back.Too many wide receivers, when they close the cushion, tend to allow their feet to go ‘dead.’ If thedefensive back decides to ‘bull rush’ the wide receiver with ‘dead’ feet then the wide receiver is in a morevulnerable position to get run over. When the wide receiver has lively feet and is moving to the defensiveback, then the physics are more in his favor.When blocking a ‘squat’ defensive back (one who is lined up five yards or less from the wide receiver), itis crucial for the wide receiver to come off the ball with speed but now aim for the inside number of thedefensive back.With the defensive back’s close proximity to the wide receiver, it would be too risky to work the outsidenumber and prevent the defensive back to keep from blowing inside the wide receiver. Also, because ofthe close proximity of the defensive back, it is crucial that after coming off the ball with speed, the widereceiver should hit his stalk position when there is a 2-yard cushion from the defensive back. If the squatdefensive back does not shoot inside to support the run, then the wide receiver should shuffle back todefensive back’s outside number to block him. (See Diagrams 3 and 4)
Diagram 3
Page 2 of 4American Football Monthly, Copyrighted Material5/10/2009http://www.americanfootballmonthly.com/Subaccess/printer_friendly.php?article_id=4670
Diagram 4
 A good drill to teach the stalk shuffle would be to have the wide receiver put his hands behind his backand ‘mirror’ the movements from another player. Challenge the wide receiver to keep his nose at the levelof the defensive back’s jersey number, while he buzzes his feet to mirror the defensive back’smovements.
C. Contact
When contact is eminent, the wide receiver’s rear end and shoulders should be parallel to the line ofscrimmage. If that defensive back is going to force the run on a constricting angle (45 degree angle backto the ball through the wide receiver’s outside shoulder), then he should have to go through the widereceiver’s whole body to do it. (See Diagrams 5 and 6)
Diagram 5
Diagram 6
 When making actual contact the wide receiver again should have knees bent, feet buzzing slightly to thedefensive back so there is a momentum advantage for the wide receiver. The wide receiver’s handsshould shoot in a double uppercut fashion with quickness through the jersey number of the defensiveback.The wide receiver should bring his feet with him under control while he makes contact- again for greaterphysics. The wide receiver’s feet MUST be under control. Don’t ‘swing for the fences’ in the open fieldbecause an athletic defensive back will make you miss.When shooting the hands into the chest, stress open palms striking with the heel of the hands withthumbs together and fingers spread. I do NOT teach holding! I am very firm about not holding, whether wecan get away with it or not. If the C and D stage of the stalk block is executed well, there will never be aneed to hold. If we have to hold to block effectively, then the wide receivers and their coach ought to getdismissed.A great drill for this is to have the wide receivers punch a teammate with shoulder pads on the jerseynumber. Do it numerous times so he gets used to doing it properly. Hand placement on the defensiveback is the ‘steering wheel’ aspect of the stalk block. The only difference from an actual steering wheel isthat we don’t grab. On contact, the wide receiver is not interested in recoiling his arms in “patty cake”fashion. Once he shoots his hands into the defensive back’s chest, he ‘locks out’ on the defensive backwithout losing contact again.
D. Drive
 If contact is the steering wheel then the drive is the engine of the stalk block. This is one of the mostunder-coached principles of the stalk block. Yet, this portion of the stalk block is the “Thrill of the Hunt.”It’s in the drive that the wide receiver experiences the beauty of staying on a block 5-6-7 seconds long. It’sin the ‘drive’ where the wide receiver gets to do something that an offensive lineman enjoys - pancaking adefender.A wide receiver that excels at the ‘drive’ will demoralize defensive backs and secondary coaches. More
Page 3 of 4American Football Monthly, Copyrighted Material5/10/2009http://www.americanfootballmonthly.com/Subaccess/printer_friendly.php?article_id=4670

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