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Coaching the Fullback in O'Brien

The most difficult block in the O’Brien is made by the fullback (FB).  He is asked to block the defensive end (DE) and immediately turn him in or out.  The QB makes his cut based upon this block and this is why we coach players to play the defense and not memorize a play.  It is effectively a simple zone read blocking scheme.

Most DEs are coached to set an edge and so the FB will kick the DE out. (Figure 1) and we coach the FB to place his right hand in the center of the DE chest and his left hand on the front of the DE’s right shoulder pad.  Hand placement is repped in slow motion.  We tell the FB to make sure the DE “spills” to the outside.  It is critical that the DE does not come back across his face!

We coach the FB to get to the outside shoulder of the DE if he can.  This is something that he needs to determine pre-snap.  The hand placement is reversed in this scenario with the left hand being in the chest of the DE and the right hand on the front of the DEs left shoulder pad. (Figure 2)

If we face a team with an aggressive DE.  We will bring the FB to outside the DE and off the LOS (we call this Hammer).  This makes the block much easier for the FB.  However, it takes away the counter to the FB.  From the Hammer position, the FB makes the same pre-snap reads of blocking the DE in or out. (Figure 3)

The drills that we use are often coupled with the basic snap and pitch drills for the QB and RB.  We also will integrate the FB while repping the ROMEO, BIG DADDY and POT LUCK blocking schemes (Figure 4a-c)




In each of the drills the focus is on hand placement and in the case of ROMEO on not overrunning the block.  We coach to approach the Defender and then to block him “Down” toward the center unless the LB has shot across the B gap in which case the FB is coached to ride him out of the play to the outside.

Coaching point: we use the ROMEO blocking scheme when we feel that HAMMER is not working and that the IR is better to block the DE. The IR will have a better angle but the downside is that it takes away the ability to get to the edge outside the DE.


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