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The Drills Report: Wartburg College\'s Cut Block Circuitby: Wayne Anderson
© December 2006
The cut block is very important to our offense. At Wartburg College, we utilize the cut block in several of our offensive schemes. Although we do believe in the cut block, we do not cut our own players in practice. Because the cut block is so important in our offense, we asked the same question everyone asks, “How do we practice cutting without cutting our own players?” In order to effectively teach the technique and practice the cut block, we have developed a basic cutting circuit to teach the different type of cut blocks used in our offensive package. Our cut circuit is a high tempo drill where we are teaching basic fundamentals and getting multiple repetitions in a condensed amount of time. In this feature, we will explain our cutting technique, how we set up the circuit and the drills we use in the circuit.
Wartburg College Cutting Technique: Coaching Point #1 – Run to toes of defender
When cutting, it is common for an offensive player to attempt the cut too soon. One of the main coaching points we use is having our offensive player run on the toes of the defender before he attempts a cut. The term “run to the toes of the defender” gives our players a mental picture of how close they need to be before they attempt to cut. When we arrive at a defender, we want our players to cut through the defender. The offensive player is not finished when he gets to the toes of the defender. “Run through him, not just to him,” is a common phrase we use to emphasize how close we want to be before we cut a defender.
Coaching Point #2 – Same Leg, Same Arm
The second coaching point we use for the cut block is that whichever leg of the defender we are trying to cut, we want to use the same arm. For example, if we want to cut a defender’s right leg, our offensive player should use his right arm to do so. This technique allows our offensive player to get his body in front of the defender, between the defender and the ball, and puts him in the best position to complete the cut block.
Coaching Point #3 – Fireman’s Carry
A common problem with the cut block is that offensive players do not aim high enough up on the defender’s leg. We want the arm and shoulder to strike the defender in the upper and inner thigh. We also believe that if the fist and arm are violently ripped through the leg of the defender, we will generate more force to knock the defender down. Because the majority of our players are from Iowa, many of them either wrestled in high school or understand wrestling terminology. The fireman’s carry is very similar to what we are trying to accomplish. That image and term have helped many of our players understand this phase of the cut block.
Coaching Point #4 - Cut and Crawl
The last coaching point we use is to finish the cut block by bear crawling up the field. Often, after the player has attempted a cut block, he will simply lie there. If we do not cut the defender to the ground, we want to maintain contact with the defender’s lower body; we want to continue to be a nuisance by bear crawling into the defender’s legs. When we do get the defender knocked down, bear crawling through the legs of the defender makes it more difficult for him to get back onto his feet. Ultimately we want to crawl and work our body up field so that the defender has to avoid us opposite of the way the ball carrier is trying to gain yards. “Make the defender go underneath, not over the top of you,” is a common coaching point.
Setting Up And Implementing \The Cutting Circuit
We start every practice with a tempo period. During this period, we want to set a fast tempo and high energy level for our practice. It is during our tempo period that we typically will put our entire offense through our cutting circuit. We do not do this circuit every day but we use it often during preseason camp as well as throughout the season whenever we feel we need more practice at the cut block. First, we divide our offensive coaches into three groups to run the drills. Secondly, we divide our players into three groups. Our three groups are broken down into wide receivers, running backs and tight ends, and offensive lineman. Each group will go through the three stations and rotate on the command of a coach.
Cutting Drills Used In The Circuit Station #1 – The Straight-On Cut Drill
The first emphasis of the straight on cut is to ensure that the players are running to the toes of the defender before the cut block is performed. The second emphasis of this drill is to make sure that the offensive player is cutting with the correct “same arm same leg technique” explained previously. For the straight on cut, position an agile bag five yards from the offensive player directly in front of him. The offensive player will start in his normal stance. The bag holder needs to hold the top of the bag and represents the leg that our player would be trying to strike in the block (See Diagram 1).
Diagram 1. Straight-On Cut Drill
Everyone will cut with their left arm first, so the agile bag represents the defender’s left leg. Once they cut the bag, we make them bear crawl, working up field for five yards past the bag. That player will then take the bag and the previous bag holder will go back to the line for his eventual turn. The next group will then do the same thing, and so on, until the entire group has cut with the left arm. Then have the bag holder switch the bag to the right side and the group will proceed to cut with their right arm. We try to get as many quality reps as possible.
Station #2 – Angle Cut Drill
The emphasis of our angle cut is to teach our players to regain leverage on a defender before attempting to cut him. This drill will also require game like change of direction before the cut block is made. Like the straight on cut drill we want the offensive player to finish the cut working up field. Our angle cut station is very similar to our straight on cut except the bags are now offset from the offensive player. Now place the agile bags five yards by five yards from the offensive player. The bag holder will hold the bag in the same manner as he did in the straight on cut drill and we will make sure that every player cuts in both directions (See Diagram 2).
Diagram 2. Angle Cut Drill
Station #3 – Position Specific Cut Station Drill
This station is entirely up to how the cut block fits into your offensive package. The coach that runs this station will run a different drill for each group that comes to him during the circuit. One way we use this station is to teach each position group how to cut block in our rocket screen. For example, in our rocket screen, the #2 receiver is responsible for the driving at the defender over him and cutting the corner if he becomes a threat. We will set up a screen to the right and a screen to the left and drill them simultaneously. The receiver should push vertical until the corner becomes a threat. Once the corner commits, our #2 wide receiver will redirect toward the line of scrimmage and cut the upfield leg of the corner. When we run this play to the right, the WR will be cutting the right leg of the corner with his right arm and if we run this play to the left, the WR will be cutting the left leg of the corner with his left arm (See Diagram 3).
Diagram 3. Position SPecific Cut Station Drill
Head Coach Eric Koehler is completing his first season as head coach of the Knights after serving as both offensive coordinator and assistant head coach. Offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Tim Morrison is in his fifth year on the Wartburg staff.
Coaches, if you would like to submit one of your favorite drills to be featured in The Drills Report, please contact Coach Wayne Anderson.
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