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The Drills Report: Connecticut Secondary Drills© May 2008
The emphasis that we have chosen to take with our defense, and in this case our secondary, is on fundamentals. There are certainly many variations and philosophies to choose from and we have decided that what we do is the best thing for our program. We believe that tackling is 10% technique and 90% desire. We use a few drills to simulate the different scenarios a defensive back will find himself in throughout the course of a game; they include tackling, block protection and ball skills. The drills we’ve included are: the 45 degree tackle; sideline tackle; 2 on 1 tackle; stalk drill; and deep ball drill.
1. 45 Degree Tackle Drill (See Diagram 1)
• Work drill to both left and right sides
1. Set cones five yards apart.
2. DB and RB start seven yards apart.
3. On command, RB runs at an angle aiming outside the cone.
4. DB approaches with an inside out angle while staying square in a proper football position.
5. On impact, the DB will explode up through the RB accelerating the feet.
6. The arms explode violently up the rib cage, grabbing high jersey on the back of the shoulder pads.
7. Run the RB back five yards.
2. Sideline Tackle (See Diagram 2)
• Practice the angle toward the line of scrimmage
1. WR and DB start seven yards apart.
2. On command the WR runs up the sideline.
3. The DB attacks the ball carrier downhill on an inside out angle.
4. Stay square. Force the ball carrier to the sideline.
5. Accelerate feet and explode up through ball carrier and drive him toward the sideline until his feet are out of bounds.
* Allow the ball carrier to cut back if the DB over pursues.
3. 2 On 1 Tackle (Diagram 3)
• To teach DBs to tackle while maintaining proper leverage on the ball.
1. WR aligns on the sideline facing the QB.
2. CB aligns on the numbers six yards deep. FS is 10 yards deep between hash and numbers.
3. On command, WR runs toward QB and DBs backpedal for depth.
4. QB throws ball to WR who runs after the catch to sideline, middle of field, or to split between the DBs.
5. Once the ball has been thrown, the DBs take the proper angle toward the ball.
6. The goal is for the CB to keep the ball on his inside pad, the FS to keep it on his outside pad while tackling the WR, holding him to a minimal gain.
II. BLOCK PROTECTION
There will always be times throughout the course of the game where DBs will get blocked. We spend some time in both the pre-season and regular season working on the fundamentals needed to defeat these blocks. Like tackling, 90% of what a player needs to win this battle is desire. We work on the 10% technique with some drills. The key to this drill is to work against the best players. We try to do this against our best WRs. It is beneficial for both sides.
4. Stalk Drill (See Diagram 4)
1. Use cones or towels to make a five-yard by five-yard box.
2. Have a RB 10 yards away run inside the box, cutting inside or outside of the WR’s block.
3. On command, the DB attacks to block off of the WR closing the distance quickly.
4. The DB approaches square, with a lower pad level than the WR and his hands inside the WR’s hands.
5. The DBs hands should strike the breast pad of the WR violently while hitting at an angle up, knocking the WR into an upright position.
6. Simultaneously, increase the leg drive putting the WR into an ‘uncontrollable backpedal.’ *Keep in mind the WR is trying to do the same thing to the DB.
7. The object is to knock the WR into the RB and slide off and execute proper tackling technique. *Point of emphasis is to teach DB to escape to the ball without delay which would allow the WR to re-establish a blocking position.
III. BALL SKILLS
One of the most aggravating aspects of coaching in the secondary is all of the misplayed throws we have to deal with. We work very hard to get DBs in position and when they actually get there, they misplay the ball and give the offense life. One of the most misplayed thrown balls is the deep ball. We work hard both defensively and offensively to complete and defend deep throws. We set up our practice in order to work good vs. good for this aspect of the game. We set the drill up on both sidelines. Make sure the DBs get work on both sides.
5. Deep Ball Drill (See Diagram 5)
1. On command the WR runs a vertical route and the DB attempts to mirror the WR.
2. The QB throws the ball 25-35 yards downfield within six-seven yards from the sideline over the WRs outside shoulder.
3. The DB will get to a position close enough to touch the WR. The DB will keep his focus on the WRs eyes.
4. When the WR turns to look for the ball, the DB will turn to look. The DB will look up for the ball, trying to keep his hips and shoulders square in an effort not to slow down.
5. Any contact made with the WR must be made while looking for the ball and trying not to draw a penalty.
6. The ball should be intercepted at a high point or deflected with the inside arm.
7. The DB must stay in phase with the WR until the ball is defended.
In conclusion, we hope these drills give you some idea of how we set up our practice drills in order to stress and master the fundamentals. We understand that there are many different drills and philosophies to apply to the coaching for the secondary. We just wanted to share a few of ours with you and hope that they will help you to better prepare your players. Best of luck this fall.
Scott Lakatos enters his fifth season at UConn after spending three seasons as defensive backs coach at Rutgers (2001-2003). He also served as an assistant coach at Maine, New Haven, Syracuse, Boston University and Western Connecticut.
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