I have had countless conversations with women who have said they would enjoy college football more if they could understand what was happening on the field. Well, I am here to fix that problem! I believe EVERYONE should be able to learn about this glorious game, and as we countdown the days to kickoff, I will be releasing articles that review the basic aspects of college football. I will be breaking down various positions and discussing different play schemes that you would see when watching a Carolina football game. I hope y'all find these helpful (whether you're male or female!) and please do not hesitate to ask me questions or give suggestions of topics for future articles! Who knows...MAYBE this will lead to more educated debate on social media....probably not.
The topic for today is the Offensive Line.
The offensive line are the five players that line up next to each other, on offense, in same place pretty much every time. If the entire football team were different breeds of puppy dogs, the offensive line would be English Bulldogs. They are thick, stocky, and strong...and most of them breathe funny. Offensive line is the most knowledge-based and technique driven position on the field. All five guys must be on the same page for success to be possible. When you think offensive line, think protection. For the sake of stating the obvious, the man tasked with developing our offensive line into SEC champions is Coach Shawn Elliott.
The individual offensive line positions are:
- The only player guaranteed to touch the ball every play
- He snaps the ball to the quarterback either under center or in the shotgun
- Shotgun- The quarterback is 4-6 yards back from the center. The center snaps the ball between his legs in the air to the quarterback
- Must snap consistently
- Must block a noseguard which usually the opponent’s biggest and strongest defensive player
- Must be able to block guys on the next level (linebackers)
- Has to make all the calls
- Average Size range: 6’1" - 6’6" 270-315lbs
- This Year’s Gamecock Centers: Alan Knott #70, Cory Helms #51
Guards (Left and Right):
- During the play the will possibly double team and defensive player with the tackle/center
- The must also be able to block defensive lineman by themselves
- Must be able to pull & trap defensive players
- Pull - the offensive lineman turns his body completely and runs to attack a player on the other side of the line of scrimmage-- you’re going to go block a linebacker or trap a defensive lineman
- Trap- offensive lineman pulls and blocks a defensive lineman that’s rushing up the field
- Have to be strong enough to move defensive tackles but also fast enough to pull and get defensive ends & linebackers
- In our system we don’t often trap BUT we pull very frequently for power and sweep plays (in the video below, I break down the role guards play during a power play)
- Average size range: 6’3"-6’6" 285-325lbs
- This Year’s Gamecock Guards: Zack Bailey #78, Christian Pellage #55, Cory Helms #51, Donnell Staley #72
Tackles (Left and Right):
- Will occasionally double team defensive linemen with guards
- Most of the time, they must block the defensive end by themselves
- They set the pocket (The Pocket: The area in the backfield where the quarterback is protected by the offensive linemen from rushing defensive players.) and have to work against other team’s most athletic defensive lineman
- These are the people who have to block Clowney
- Usually they are the taller players with longer arms. A player with longer arms can create more separation between the offensive lineman and defensive lineman which helps the tackle protect the quarterback.
- In our system, tackles often do not pull
- They are mostly concerned with run and pass blocking
- Average size range: 6’3"-Mason Zandi (6’9") 285-315lbs
- This year’s Gamecock Offensive Tackles: Mason Zandi #74, Malik Young #77, D.J. Park #69, Blake Camper #63
The most common penalties called on offensive linemen:
- False start - This happens when an offensive player moves before the ball is snapped. This means any type of movement that is not a motion (offensive lineman cannot motion). Motion- A motion is when a player on the offense moves from one area to another area of the formation before the snap. For example: a running back moving out to receiver before the snap
- Holding- It’s exactly what is sounds like: the illegal grabbing/holding of a defensive player in order to prevent them from completing their assignment. This penalty has a really fine line - it pretty much happens every play. SO, a good rule of thumb to use is if the player’s hands are blatantly outside of the middle frame work of opposing player’s pads, it’s going to be a holding call.
- Chop block - This is also known as a "high-low." The penalty happens when one offensive player tries to cut block (blocking at thigh level or lower) a defensive player that is already being blocked above the waist by another offensive player
In this video, I draw up a power play and explain the offensive line's assignments. This will help grow your understanding of the individual positions.
Now that we've drawn up the play, let's watch it being perfectly executed during a game!