n behalf of Springfield college, the coaching staff, and the players.

It is with great pleasure to contribute to the AFCA Summer Manual. We hope that by sharing some ideas about our kickoff return team it can help you in this aspect of your kicking game. Our kickoff return philosophy has developed and been modified by the many coaches that have shared with us their thoughts on this phase of the kicking game. Philosophy At Springfield College we run the spread option offense, and we pride ourselves on having an aggressive ball control style of offense. We want to win the battle of field position, time of position and the physical side of the game, we also coach patience for the big play, it will come. Our kickoff return team has the same philosophy. We want to win the physical aspect of the kick ing game and set an early tempo, control field position, and create a big play with the return team. We feel that the first measure of the success of an offensive series is the success of the kickoff return team. We must be on the same page and have the desire to be the best. To be the best our players must know their blocking assignments and be relentless, to assure the best return possible. We strive to work as a team to achieve a common goal, to score first or put the offense in good field position. A good return sets the offense up to work on a short field. If that does not lead to points and we must punt. This will now allow for your defense to defend a long field. This allows for our defense to be more aggressive and the possibility for a big play on defense. Objectives • Score (set up a score) • Thirty five-yard line or better Offensive drive start • Set the tempo. A great return is a momentum builder Personnel The most important aspect to the success of our return is our players, not the scheme. We do not put the eleven best players on the team, we put the 11 best players that will execute the scheme. This is the most critical aspect to consider while you put together your depth chart. Tackles: Wide receiver type players can run and sustain a stalk block.

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Guards: Fullback/LB type Physical at point of attack and can run to a cutoff point Centers: Fullback type can play a squib and can block a linebacker Tight Ends/Fullbacks: These players must be your best runners and hitters and be able to handle a bloop kick. Your best special team players must go here. Returnees: Players that can handle a kick, set up the return, make people miss and if they don’t get the ball be a lead blocker. Not necessarily your fastest player but a smart runner. All players on the return team must be able to handle the football. We practice surprise onsides kicks daily, as part of our practice routine. Kickoff Return Alignment We will keep our alignments consistent on all returns, this prevents the opposing teams from getting a return tendency on us. (Diagram1) Frontline: Align 11 yards from the ball (46-yard line) tackle’s bottom of the numbers. Guards: Split the difference between the senter and tackle. Center if the ball is in the middle of the field slide two yards opposite his kicking leg, if the ball is on a hash slide two yards opposite the hash. Ends: Thirty eight-yard line two yards outside the hash Fullbacks: Nineteen-yard line two yards inside the hash Returnees: Based on game plan, best returner makes you/me call Coaching Point: All players will remain square to the line and in a good fundamental football position, with hands positioned like a shortstop, until the ball is kicked. Always expect an onside/bloop kick.

Set The Tempo With Your Kickoff Return Team

Mike Cerasuolo Offensive Coordinator Springfield College Springfield, Mass.

Diagram 1

• AFCA Summer Manual — 2002 •

Kicking Team Numbering System On all of our teams we number from outside in, the 1st man closet to the left sideline is L1 the next man in is L2 and so forth. We do the same from the right hand side. If we get a stack alignment the man closest to the line is the low number. We count to five on each side, not counting the kicker, regardless if the ball is aligned on a hash (Diagram 2).

two double teams on the bottom of the numbers. The non-ball carrying returner will lead the ball carrier in between the two double teams and block the most dangerous man (Diagrams 3 and 4). The front line will use an inside influence block, drop step, crossover sprint back to a minimum of 15 yards and maintain your leverage base on the return, (make him run the hump). The deeper you drop the short-

er your block will be in duration. The key to your drop is the depth of the kick and the speed of the man you are blocking. The double teams are speed and timing with each player taking half a man. Our middle return is used as a tendency breaker and vs. a team that kicks from the middle of the field in either direction (Diagram 5). The return is designed to hit in between the hashes.

Diagram 2

Diagram 3

Diagram 5

Returns We utilize three different returns, sideline left sideline right and middle kickout. All of our returns are man schemes. This allows us to predetermine our blocks and let our players be more confident and aggressive with their blocks. When we have a sideline return called we stay with the return unless the ball is kicked to the numbers opposite the return side. The returner will make a “fire” call alerting the kickoff return team that the return is off and the returner is taking the ball up the far sideline. The rest of the team will now turn and block the most dangerous man. The sideline returns are predetermined based on ball location and game plan. The ball is designed to be returned in between

Diagram 4

Key Coaching Points Technique: Proper depth and leverage based on return. Effort: Sustain your block, take a high shot. Assignment: Make your count and communicate, know whom you have to block. Make a Play: The scheme is just a blue print you have to make it work. We commit a significant amount of practice time to our kickoff return team, we feel it is a great opportunity to score and we want to take advantage of that. I would like to thank the AFCA for the opportunity to write this article for the Summer Manual. Best of luck to all of you during the 2002 season.

Make Plans Now to Attend the 2003 AFCA Convention In New Orleans
• AFCA Summer Manual — 2002 •

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