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circuit training for the eight man front

circuit training for the eight man front



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Published by Michael Schearer

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Published by: Michael Schearer on Nov 16, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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On behalf of Head Coach Gary Darnell
and the entire Western Michigan foot-
ball program, we would like to thank the
Summer Manualcommittee for the oppor-

tunity to share our thoughts. Our staff made the move to the eight-man front in the spring of 2000, and consequentially experi- enced a great deal of success during the 2000 season.

When playing an eight-man front scheme, we believe that it is critical to avoid segmen- tation of the defense and to promote the vision of one unit. As you are well aware, this style of defense is committed to stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback. Everyone on the defensive unit must believe in this philosophy and play a significant role in the package. Therefore, we developed a circuit-training program to teach the critical fundamentals of the defense. We begin every practice with a defensive circuit, which mirrors the philosophy of starting fast we take into each game.

There are three elements of playing the eight man front package that a defense must practice on a consistent basis. These are:

2.Take Aways
3.Pass Rush

By training these skills with a circuit approach, you are able to practice a variety of techniques in a 10-minute period and keep the tempo enthusiastic for both the players and the coaches. We hope you are able to develop an idea from how we prac- tice and encourage you to call or visit if you have any questions.

Tackling Circuit
1.Skate Tackle
2.Sideline Tackle
3.Snatch Tackle
4.Head Across

Tackling Circuit: Skate Tackle
1. Place two cones five yards apart
2. Place a cone approximately four

yards to the left and one yard behind the
left cone.
3. Continue to place two more cones to
the left at 4 x 1 intervals, leaving a football
at the last cone.
4. Repeat the procedure to the right.
5. Instruct the players to each stand by
a cone.
6. Two players will stand one yard in
front of the first cones and face the other
7.All remaining players will proceed to
the last cone (one half to the right, one half
to the left) and form a line.
8.The players at the last cone will pick
up the football.
9.The players at the other cones will get
into a six-point position.
10.On command, the two players

standing in front will shuffle (one to the right, one to the left) defeating three cut blocks and executing a form tackle on the last player.

11. When finished, the tackler will go to
the back of the runningback line and each
player will move one cone to the inside.
12.The two players at the first cone
will now face the others and become the
Coaching Points
1.Tacklers must shuffle in a football
position with hands below the knees.
2. Tacklers must keep fingers up and

palms down when executing block protec- tion and strike the shoulder pad and side of the helmet of the blocker. Avoid slapping the back of the shoulder pads.

3. Tacklers must use a sprawling motion
with the outside leg in order to keep it clear
of the blocker.
4.Blockers must give excellent effort
to try and capture the outside leg of the
5. When executing the tackle, be sure

the tackler gets his head across the runner and runs to and through the ball carrier, continuing to drive his legs until the whistle is blown.

Tackling Circuit: Sideline Tackle
1. Coach will stand in the middle of the
field with two footballs.
2. Players will divide into two lines. One

half of the players will line up on the num- bers and simulate the offensive players. The second line will align on the hash mark at five yards depth for the defensive line and linebackers and 10 yards for the defen- sive backs.

3. Defensive players should be in a foot-
AFCA Sum m er M anual
2 0 0 1
Circuit Training for the
Eight Man Front
Jim Knowles
Defensi ve
Coor dinator
Western Michigan
Kalamazoo, Mich.
Kyle Nystr om
Special Teams
Coordinator &
Linebacker s
Diagr am 1

ball position. On the coach\u2019s command, he will throw the ball to the simulated receiver aligned on the numbers.

4. The defensive player will take an
inside out angle of pursuit and use the side-
line to pin the receiver and make the tackle.
5. The defensive player will then go to
offense and the offensive receiver will then
go to the defense line.
Coaching Points
1. The drill starts when the ball is thrown
to the receiver.
2. The defensive player must close
hard, shorten his stride and sink his hips as
he constricts the ball carrier\u2019s running lane.
3. Once he takes away the receiver\u2019s
angle he should accelerate through the car-
rier and make the tackle.
Tackling Circuit: Snatch Tackle
1. The emphasis on this drill is to teach
a defender to release off of a block low and
get under control to make an angle tackle.
2. The ball carrier, blocker, and defend-
er are all aligned on the same yard line.
3. The ball carrier is five yards behind
the blocker.
4. The blocker assumes high break-

down position loosely holding the edges of the defender\u2019s shoulder pads and applies a moderate amount of pressure.

5. The defender will fit into the blocker
with leverage to the side he will release.
6. The defender will have a secure hold

on the blocker\u2019s breastplate with both hands, eyes below chin, and arms slightly bent.

7. On command, the defender will lock

out, separating from the blocker. Next he will step to his left and snatch or throw the blocker to his right.

8.As the defender\u2019s hips clear the block,
dip and rip the trail arm to the left to come
to a momentary breakdown position.
10. Locate the ball carrier and execute
and an angle tackle.
11. Rotate the drill going from defender
to ball carrier to blocker and then back to
Coaching Points
1. Emphasize lockout before the snatch

and dip and rip to come out of the snatch in a balanced position before pressing the blocker.

2. This is a teaching drill so predeter-
mine the side for the release and angle

Tackling Circuit: Head Across
1. Divide the players into two lines.
2. The tackling line and the ball carrier

line should be five yards apart.
3. Start the tackler in a sit up position
with back to the carrier.
4. At the \u201chit\u201d command the tackler will
pop to a football position and read the flow
of the runner.
5. Tackler will attack downhill and at an

angle to fit his head to the outside of the carrier, drive his hips around to resist the path of the carrier and sprint his feet until the whistle is blown to end the rep.

6. Teach the tackler to \u201cblink his eyes
open\u201d keep his head up and fit snug to the
outside of the rib cage on the carrier.
7. Tackler also clubs his arms through
and around the carrier squeezing for tackle
security and a possible take away.
Coaching Points
1. Ball carrier is taught to pick either
alley he chooses, run with good tempo, but
not to lower his head.
2. Teach the carrier to present a good
look but let the tackler win the drill.
3. Alternate the players as they com-
plete tackling or running the football.

Take Away Circuit
1. Fumble Recovery
2. Interception Drill
3. Rake and Punch
4. Strip Tackle

Take Away Circuit: Fumble Recovery
1. Form four lines of players and place a
ball one yard in front of each line.
2. The first players in the line should be
in a six-point position.
3. On command, the first player in the

line will execute a cradle fumble recovery and hold the position until checked by the coach.

4. Continue until each player has pro-
gressed through the drill.
5. Next, place the ball five yards in front
of each line.
6. The first player in the line should be in
a football position with feet moving.
7. On command, the first player in the

line will execute a scoop and score fumble recovery, running an additional five yards with the ball. After finishing the drill, the player will place the ball back at the five- yard mark.

8. Continue until each player has pro-
gressed though the drill.
Coaching Points
1. When executing a cradle fumble

recovery, the player should dive straight out, staying low to the ground and grabbing the ball with hands.

2. The cradle position should cover all
points of the ball and the coach will try to
pry the ball out.
3. When executing a scoop and score

recovery, be sure that the player bends at the knees and gets his hands under the ball (like a shortstop fields a ground ball).

4. The players should then tuck the ball
away as the coach tries to strip the ball
from the player.
Take Away Circuit: Interception Drill
1.Form four lines of players in front of a
2.Place a blocker in a six-point position
in front of each line.
3.On command, the blocker will attempt
to cut the defensive player.
4.Immediately after the cut block, the
quarterback will throw the ball in the vicini-
ty of the defensive player.
5.The defensive player must tip or inter-
cept the ball.
6.After executing a repetition, the play-
AFCA Sum m er M anual
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Diagr am 4

ers in the line will rotate so that they are ready to perform the drill when the quarter - back progresses down the line.

Coaching Points
1. The defensive players must execute
proper cut block protection skills with their
hands below their knees.
2. The player should move his hands to
the thrown ball, attempting to catch the ball,
not just tip it.
3. Emphasize fast hands and finding the
Take Away Circuit: Rake and Punch
1. Defender aligns three yards behind
2. On receiver\u2019s movement, the drill
3. Receiver runs half speed.
4. When defender closes, receiver
extends ball.
5. Defender keys hands for when to strip
the ball.
6. Once this occurs the defender rips

down on the ball and then attempts to rake the ball out and up from the receivers hands.

7. Strip ball before initiating tackle so
receiver does not squeeze it.
1. Defender aligns three yards behind
2. On receiver\u2019s movement drill begins.
3. Receiver runs half speed and keeps
ball tucked.
4. When defender reaches receiver he
punches the ball up through receiver\u2019s
5. Defender should punch at ball before
initiating tackle so receiver does not
squeeze ball.
Take Away Circuit: Strip Tackle
1. We will first incorporate an angle tack-

le into this drill to teach the defender, who is approaching a secured tackle, to strip the ball.

2. Set the drill up in a triangle with the ball
carrier five yards away facing the tackler.
3. The stripper will align five yards away
and beside the ball carrier facing in at him.
4. On command the ball carrier and the
tackler execute and angle tackle keeping
the ball carrier up.
5. The stripper will wait for contact by
the tackler, then pursue to and outside
leverage position on the ball carrier.
6. He will then strip the ball, recover the
fumble, and return it to his goal line for five
Coaching Points
1. The stripper is taught to pin the ball

carrier\u2019s elbow with one hand and reach over the top of the point of the ball with the other hand.

2. When you pin the elbow and secure

the point, violently pry the point of the ball by taking the ball carrier\u2019s fingers away from his body, separating the ball.

3. Rotation:Stripper to ball carrier, ball
carrier to tackler, and tackler to stripper.
4. Emphasis:\u201cPin and Pry\u201d with a vio-
lent motion.

Pass Rush Circuit
1. Blitz and Speed Rush
2. Bull and Clear
3. Club and Rip/Swim

Pass Rush Circuit: Blitz

and Speed Rush
1. Set up one play strip.
2.Place a cone one yard behind and

one yard outside the offensive tackle
3. Place a cone five yards directly
behind the offensive tackle position.
4. Place a cone six and one half yards
behind the center position.
5. Place a cone seven and one half
yards behind the center position
6. Instruct three offensive players (on
simulation) to line up at the center, quarter-
back, and single back position.
7. Form two lines of defensive players
outside the tight end position on the play
8. On the snap, linebackers and safeties
will simultaneously blitz off of each edge
and the offense will execute a play.
9. Defensive linemen will not go simulta-

neously, but will alternate left and right. On the snap, the offense will not run a play, but the defensive lineman will run the arc. The coach will use a stopwatch to time the speed rush. The rusher must finish between the two deep cones.

10. The cones can be adjusted slightly

for corners to simulate the path needed for PAT/FG block. The coach should use a watch to time this drill and place a landing pad at the finish point.

11. Players will switch lines after each
repetition to ensure equal training from the
right and left side.
Coaching Points
1. Blitzers should key the running back
and adjust their path according to his
A. Running Play
Frontside Blitzer: Plant off the outside
foot and knife inside. Fit up on the runner.
Backside Blitzer: Continue on the arc
and fit up the quarterback on the bootleg.
B. Dropback Pass
Both blitzers run the arc to the upfield
shoulder of the quarterback. Instruct the
AFCA Sum m er M anual
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