My dad is the Head coach/Offensive line coach at a different school in Oklahoma, so naturally when we get together we talk a little about the grandkids and family, but the majority of our conversations come back to coaching football. Last week we were talking about running power and the conversation shifted to “Why don’t you near step your Gap double combos?” This was an interesting question so I decided I would make my answer my first blog post and subsequent video.
The reasons we inside step our gap doubles is so we can Control Angles, and Get Vertical Movement without the need to crowd the football in our stance. The benefit of not crowding the ball, we believe, is that we can run Zone, Gap, and Man schemes, as well as setting the line of scrimmage behind the ball further in pass protection. In order for us to be effective in our gap double teams, and be off the ball in our stance, we must step with our inside foot first to control the defensive lineman’s angles, and create timing to get the movement we need to run our gap scheme plays.
Controlling Angles – I hate to say it to a bunch of offensive line guys but defensive lineman are often much more athletic than offensive linemen. As offensive lineman however, we work hard in the offseason to be stronger and more powerful than the more athletic defensive guys. With both of those things being said, in order for us to win we must close angles and get our bodies on down defenders. For the following example let’s imagine a Right Guard and a Right Tackle are gap doubling a 3 technique to a backside linebacker. In our gap scheme runs, our job is to block our inside gap. If the RG steps first with his outside foot to the 3Tech his Rt foot and his Rt hip will be up above his left foot and left hip at the first half second of the play. When this is the case, we are actually opening our hip to allow an easier angle for the defensive lineman to slant inside than we would have if we wouldn’t have stepped at all! This then, is why we step with our inside foot first and try to gain “some” ground. When we do this, we actually cut the angle of a defensive lineman slanting inside. In less scientific terms, when we have a good first inside step, we make the defensive lineman have to slant through our body.
Getting Vertical Movement – Again, imagine a Right Guard and a Right tackle are not crowding the ball and are gap doubling a 3 technique to a backside linebacker. We always teach that to be able to make contact with a defender we must first get 2 steps into the ground (our position and power step) we are not taking 1 long slow step, we are taking 2 small quick steps. If the RG were to step with his outside foot first, he would be making contact with the 3Tech while his left hip and foot where ahead of his right hip and foot making his left side his dominant side. This is a problem! The toughest part about being the inside player on a gap double (the post player), is that you are trying to get vertical movement and not get pressed into your inside gap, all while taking on the entire force of the D-Lineman and half of the force of the drive player working with you, all on only one half of your body! So, when the RG’s left foot is forward on contact all of his power and strength is in his left side while all of the force and power is being applied to his right side. Not Fun! In order for us to get vertical movement, instead of getting caved into our inside gap, the RG must apply an outward 45 degree force to the defensive lineman. The most powerful way he can do this is when his right side is the dominant side at contact. By stepping with his inside foot first, both the RG and RT’s dominant side is the side of their body they are using agaisnt the defensive lineman. This allows the double team to use the maximum available power to get vertical movement on the Defensive Lineman.