Obviously, special teams are very important because of their impact on the outcome of the game. At East Carolina, we take this very seriously. The emphasis we place on special teams is shown by the fact that our head coach actually coaches a position on the punt team.
Our punt unit was ranked 108th in the nation in net punting after the 2000 season. In 2001 we improved to 48th. The reasons for this significant improvement are our punter, Jarad Preston, who was ranked 12th in the nation, and our operation time.
The responsibility for the punt team is spread throughout our staf. Coach Logan coaches the center and punter, Coach Terry Tilghman handles the left side of the unit, Coach Tony Oden is responsible for the right side, and I have the two upbacks and the personal protector. I am also responsible for the breakdown of film, prac- tice organization, and scouting reports.
At East Carolina, we practice a tight punt formation. We align with a one-foot split between the center and guard, guard and tackle, and tackle and end. Our upbacks are two and a half yards from the ball, between the center and guard. Our personal protector is six yards from the ball (see Diagram 1).
Our guards, tackles and ends will pivot their outside foot to parallel of their inside foot. Each player\u2019s body will be parallel to the line of scrimmage. We use a stomp technique with the outside foot as each lineman chases the inside hip of the player next to him.
The upbacks step up and use an iron cross technique where the focus is getting big in the \u201cA\u201d gap. The personal protector steps to the middle while looking from the middle to the right for the most dangerous person (see Diagram 2).
is easy to master, but you must have disci - pline. It is imperative that both sides of the line of scrimmage work together. The result is a most impressive statistic. Not one of our punts was blocked this year, and we had a 36.0-yard net average.
Our kickoff return unit is one with a great deal of pride and excitement. We improved our average from 19.9 yards in 2000 to 23.70 yards in 2001.
At East Carolina, we run two returns, a sideline and a middle. Our sideline return gives us two double-team blocks at the point of attack. Our front line will line up at the 50-yard line. We ask them to drop to the 30-yard line then attack their man. Our tight end lines up on the 30-yard line with two full- backs at the 20-yard line, and the returners are at the goal line (see Diagram 3).
As we run our sideline return, we like the double team number three to take place at the 35-yard line. The tight end trap blocks on the 30-yard line and the fullbacks make the double team number 2 on the 25- yard line (see Diagram 4).
Our middle return is a man return with only one double team block. Our drops are the same as sideline with our assignment changing (see Diagram 5).
I hope this section on our punt and kick- off return had been beneficial. Thank you for your time.
Whether it\u2019s a players\u2019 primary role or a starter we need, what makes these guys \u201cwant to\u201d be on these units? At East Carolina we are very fortunate because Coach Logan is involved with our \u201citems\u201d and that, in and of itself, sets a tone for our squad about the value we place on special teams. But what else can we do to capture the spirit, passion, and enthusiasm inside these young men, that we need to surface in these units? Some of the things we have done are:
Our goal is to gain possessions! Short of that we want to limit our opponent to less than 18 yards per return. Our philosophy is to make our opponents defend the entire field by using a variety of kicks/directions/ and ball placements. We believe that pre- dictability is vulnerability, so we are going to change things up. We would like to kick from the rt/lt hash; deep, sky (mortar), squib, cross kick, surprise onside, pop- overs, rollers and onside (All State). That said, as with any phase of our football team, we can only do what our players can do, and that starts with our kicker. So his abilities will determine which of these kicks, from which direction we will employ.
25-yard line) NO AVOID! Long stride through blockers keeping leverage on ball. Arms extended, thumbs up, hands in the pits. Finish at the ball (E - Z) (see Diagram 6).
Because we have levels in our defense, and leverage responsibilities for each position, we can vary ball placement, kick - type, and direction without changing assignments! This maximizes practice reps and allows us to \u201cspray the ball\u201d effectively.
We want to score/set up scores. Short of that we want to hold our opponents to a net of greater than 32 yards. We start everything from a pressure first mentally. We want to force perfect operation, deep sets in protections and make sure our opponents can handle overloads, all-out rushes, split -rush returns and corner fires. We will use multiple fronts (alignments), but the players are asked to execute the Same Techniques (Skills).
Our best drill to practice our punt block technique is our \u201cBall Off The Foot\u201d Drill. We use cones to simulate the punt team and an OC moves the ball. We start by going vertical until the man we are on blocks out. Then we \u201cget skinny\u201d by bend- ing knees and turning our back to the inside. Then accelerate across the block point, arms extended, thumbs locked, and take \u201ceyes and hands\u201d to the foot of the punter (coach). We then repeat this drill, acting as blockers for each other. Every time we do this drill, we \u201cfinish\u201d by scooping and scoring after a block (see Diagram 8).
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