Summer OTA’s Week 4

Communicating on another level…

As we begin Week 4 of Summer OTAs, I am reminded of a phone call I received last week.  The call was from legendary New Jersey high school coach Fred Stengel of Bergen Catholic.  Sometimes when I receive a call from another coach it is to get information.  Other times it is for affirmation.  This call was most definitely the latter.  Fred wanted to talk over their Pin & Pull scheme vs the defense Grayson HS (GA) runs.  Knowing he was preparing to face the preseason #2 ranked team in the nation, Fred did not want to leave any stone unturned.  Fred knew exactly what he wanted to do.  We just went over it step by step for every position on the offensive line.

As coincidence would have it, we introduce our Gap Scheme Pin & Pull play in Week 4 of OTAs.  Gap Schemes are characterized by some offensive linemen blocking down or back, while others pull to the play-side.  Although the play is called Pin & Pull, it would be more appropriately named Pin OR Pull.  Every offensive lineman will either Pin or Pull based on the defensive alignment. When running Pin & Pull to the Right, if you have a defensive lineman in the gap to your Left, you Pin him.  If you do not have a defensive lineman to your Left, you Pull to the Right.

2018-07-05 Gap Scheme Pin-Pull 1

The bulk of my conversation with Coach Stengel centered around the steps, visual target and strike points for the Play-side Tackles block in the 4i, how to handle the 0 Nose, and how to block the wide 9 technique on the Tight End.  The rule of thumb for every offensive lineman and Tight End is that when running Pin & Pull to the Right, all Pullers step with their Right foot and all Pinner’s step with their left foot.

2018-07-05 Gap Scheme Pin-Pull 2

Getting back to the topics of our conversation, the play-side Tackle will take a bucket step with his inside foot to see that the 4i does not penetrate and knock off pullers.  He will have a visual target of near Pec and strike points of sternum and near shoulder to see that the defender is pinned from play-side pursuit.  Since the Nose is head up on the Center, he is in the Play-side Guard’s backside gap.  The Guard will take a bucket step with the same visual target and strike points as he down blocks the nose.  The Center is the puller.  Since the Tight End does not have a defender in his Left gap, he quick pulls to the wide 9 technique with a visual target of far pec and strike points of sternum and far shoulder.  I then shared that this generally causes the wide 9 to widen so as to not get reached allowing a good running lane between the down block on the 4i and the expanding wide 9 for the pulling Center and back to run through.

As we discussed in Weeks 1-3, communication between offensive linemen is critical to their success.  The same can be said for communication between offensive line coaches.  If there is anything you wish to discuss, I would look forward to hearing from you.

Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at and share with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for your time!

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