|An Alabama linebacker practices defeating the cut-block2|
Sunday, November 13, 2016
Defeating Blocks in College Football
In last week’s blog I opined that tackling is the most essential defensive fundamental in college football and discussed two tackling techniques. It is rare; however, that a defender has an unobstructed path to the ball carrier. In most situations the defender must beat, or defeat, a block attempt before he can execute a tackle. In this week’s blog I will discuss what I feel is the second most essential defensive fundamental, defeating blocks.
There are two categories of blocks, (1) a high-block, often referred to as a stalk-block and (2) a low-block, often referred to as a cut-block.
To defeat a stalk-block the defender must attack the blocker with his hands, while thrusting his hips upward and into the blocker much like he does in the chest tackle. The defender seeks hand placement on the blocker’s chest. His hands are approximately six inches apart, his thumbs are pointed upward and his elbows are locked in a fully extended position. Once the defender has engaged and has control of the blocker he can now focus his attention on the ball carrier to determine how he will disengage the blocker. The defender disengages using the push-pull technique meaning he pushes the blocker with one hand while pulling the blocker towards him with the other hand.1 Executing the push-pull technique enables the defender to throw the blocker out of his way as he starts to pursue the ball carrier.
In the cut-block, the blocker is attempting to throw his body into the defenders legs and knock the defender to the ground. The defender defeats this block attempt by forcing the blocker to the ground while keeping the blocker away from his legs. The defender seeks hand placement on the back side of the blocker’s shoulder pads. His hands are approximately six inches apart, his thumbs are pointed inward and his elbows are locked in a fully extended position as if he’s executing a close-grip bench-press action.2 Once the defender has pinned the blocker to the ground he can now re-focus his attention on the ball carrier.
Tackling is, in my opinion, the most essential defensive fundamental in college football. Close second is block defeat. Players must be able to defeat the stalk-block and the cut-block. The techniques described above are simple and easy to execute. I suggest drilling these techniques daily during pre-season camp and at least once a week during the season. It is important to note that whether defeating a stalk or cut-block the defender must focus all his vision and attention on the blocker throughout the defeat.
1TheOzonedotnet (2013, March 19). Ohio State WRs Take on DBs in Blocking Drill [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dE0nXpqtv9M
2Champlin, D. (2014, September 29). Watch Alabama OLBs work on avoiding cut blocks, Sept. 29, 2014 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6S-2JzkRM8