Coaching Class: Weeks 3 and 4

Since the last installment, we saw Ohio State lose to Virginia Tech and blew out Kent State (which looked eerily similar to the Falcons/Bucaneers game I’m watching while typing this). In class, we have begun to talk about position play, as well as a bit about the history of football. So, let’s go on a ride through football history, in a brief breakdown, shall we?

There will be a quiz on that (no, there won’t).

Let’s talk about special teams. Coach Kerry Coombs led this class, which may have been the most awake I have ever been for a 7:30 AM class. I can see why he is a recruiting guru. Heck, after this class I was ready to suit up and play kick team for him. I digress. As we know, if you don’t play on special teams, you don’t start play on the other units. Coombs broke down what they call the Pyramid of Influence to get on special teams. Head Coach -> Position Coach -> Team Leader -> Coach Coombs. Players that want to play on special teams shouldn’t go to Coombs. They should go to Urban, and follow down the pyramid. The Team Leader is a player on the team, not a staff member. Here is a brief breakdown of the units (without going into too much detail about OSU specifics):

Punt Unit

Four packages, depending on what the opponent shows on punt block, to move the block spot of the kick.

Fundamentals include:

  • Identifying the opponent: rush (going for the block) or hold-up (setting up the return)
    • Rush: timed block, snag technique, release and get downfield
    • Hold-up: speed release using leverage, throw by, get downfield
  • Cup the receiver and prevent cutbacks

Punt protection:

A punt team can only block 7 men by design. Punt protection has two sides – the zone side and the man side. By default, depending on how many men the block team lines up, at least 1-2 defenders could be unblocked. This is where moving the block point comes into effect, to move the kicker away from where it looks like the pressure will come.

Punt Return/Block

Fundamentals of punt block include:

  • Identify blockers
  • Lining up behind the ball
  • Get off – upfield in 2-3 steps
  • Pad level low, point inside and use leverage
  • Reach inside

Given that the average snap-to-kick time is about 2 seconds, 2 seconds is the goal to get to the block point. If an opposing special unit team can get a kick off in under 2 seconds, there will never be a successful block, and the return comes into play.

Punt return fundamentals:

  • Get off ball
  • Wide stance to redirect opponent, then release
  • Widen the hole
  • Run the numbers

Kickoff Team


  • Take off 1 yd behind kicker
  • Locate ball and identify type of return
  • Stick and release, drive low
  • Beat with speed
  • Disengage and tackle

The biggest part on kickoff is release from blocks, then being able to contain the returner from cutbacks.

Kickoff Return


  1. Sideline Tag 4
  2. Sideline Tag 3
  3. Counter

Fundamentals include:

  • Blocking
    • Sometimes double team, but usually the cage technique
  • The “Ball-Me-Man” concept
    • Your man should never be between you and the ballcarrier (until the ballcarrier has advanced upfield past you)
  • Spacing and the wedge

For returners, these are the basic steps for a return:

  1. See the ball kicked
  2. Determine depth and direction of kick
  3. Adjust and drop to depth and angle of kick
  4. Execute technique of catching ball
  5. Finish – rip and run the number

That was Kerry Coombs’s 55 minute power lesson of his special units philosophy. I was ready to run 5 miles after this class. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, do it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: