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Coaching the O'Brien snap and pitch

I can not stress enough the importance of the snap and the QB position in the O’Brien (OB).  You want an athlete that is a good blocker, has excellent hands and in the perfect world can throw the football.  His ability to throw the football is by far the least needed faculty.

The mistake so many folks make trying to defend the OB is to shoot a defender through the A gap between the center and the guard/inside receiver (IR). The aim point for the snap is the position of the RB.  We tell the center to snap the ball as though he was aiming for the knees of the RB.  The result is the ball being caught by the QB in line with the back foot of the IR. (Figure 1)

To emulate this in practice, we have a coach snap the ball with only the QB and RB positions in the drill.  We usually have at least 6 players in this drill as we often find some surprises on who can best handle the snap and make the pitch.  We often have a backup QB that is one of our starting lineman.  Remember, it is more important the QBs ability to block than throw!

Using the same drill, we also focus on the pitch relationship between the QB and the RB.  We focus on the following:

  1. QB moving laterally (not backward)

  2. Speed! QB needs to be at the line of scrimmage (LOS) within 1.5 seconds from catchin the snap.

  3. The QB does not look at the RB (it is a blind pitch)

  4. The RB keeps a 6 foot distance from the QB

The advantage of the OB is the ability to get to the LOS fast.  This allows our lineman to hold blocks for only two seconds or less and it negates defensive penetration in the backfield. We have a coach call out “One thousand one.. Two one thousand” and the players know that they should be at the LOS at the word “Two”.

Remember that the QB can be in motion at the snap (moving laterally) almost like a jet sweep and this is how he gets to the LOS in under 2 seconds.

Speed is also why the pitch has to be blind.  The QBs block is predicated on what the defense has done post snap so he needs every quarter second to make the decision of cutting inside or outside of how the DE has been blocked post snap. (Fgure 2) We will set a coach up as a DE and have him shoot inside or outside forcing the QB to take the opposite path.

Finally, the pitch relationship will require reps.  Each RB will have a different speed and it is incumbent upon them to find the correct pitch relationship to the speed of the QB.  The RB job is to follow the QB no matter where he goes! I can’t stress enough the importance of running behind the block of the QB.  RB who want to be superstars and not follow blocks find themselves on defense or the bench.

Additions to this drill are to add a defensive end and have the FB make the block to give the QB and RB a game like look. (Figure 3) We will also add the snap from a center and not the coach.


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