Play of the Week for IFL Week 3
by: Marcelo Metzelar, Contributing Writer
To the untrained eye, the FG blocking unit just seems like getting 8 people to rush the kicker as hard as they can, hoping you get unblocked, and diving at the kicker. This cannot be further from the truth. Special teams are a huge part of the game. Points are won and lost. Yardage and field position are gained. It may seem like stating the obvious, but an offense’s chances of scoring are greater the closer they are to the opponent’s goal line. Start at your own five yard line and your chances of scoring are significantly less than if you start at the opponent’s five yard line.
First, let’s look at the rule-exemptions for field goals. A field goal formation cannot be used on any down unless it is the final 30 seconds of the 1st half or the final 30 seconds of the 2nd half if trailing by 3 points or less. A scrimmage kick formation (FG formation for the layman) can only be used on fourth downs or obvious kicking situations. This means using the field goal formations to gain advantages is not permissible.
Scrimmage kick formations must have a 5-man line, a personal protector, a holder, and a kicker. Scrimmage kick formations must also be balanced, meaning, there are an equal number of linemen on each side.
Because fakes are allowed, and missed FGs mean that the defense can return them, the defense must be prepared for (a) blocking the kick, (b) returning the kick, (c) preventing a fake. The defense is restricted in the following manner: (a) must have 4 down linemen and 4 LB/DB, (b) the defensive line must align head to head on the offensive guards and tackles/ends, (c) no one aligns over the center.
The scrimmage kick formation for both offense and defense will look like the figure below:
In our play of the week, Sioux Falls took advantage of the stunts rules that are allowed on scrimmage kick formations. For those that do not know, a defensive stunt is not asking a defensive player to commit feats of risk and danger, moreover, it is the term used for a defensive player to defend a different gap from which he was aligned. There are different types, but the one used in our play of the week was a slant.
The purpose of a stunt is to lure an offensive lineman to pursue the man in front of him and thereby making a huge whole for the other defensive player to charge. That’s exactly what happened in our Play of the Week.
Nebraska’s kicker is a left footed kicker, so, the personal protector and the holder flip sides. The left DE for Sioux Falls is #11 Charles Williams. The left DT is #15 Claude Davis.
Davis slants across the center’s face into the left side of the center. This forces the offensive right tackle to turn to him and ignore Williams. The personal protector’s job is to ensure there is no interior penetration and gets distracted by Davis and follows his charge too.
This allows Williams a free path to block the kick. In 11-man outdoor football. Because it is required to have a 7-man line AND having wings to extend the width by another two men allows the kicking team to practice one blocking technique – cover the inside gap. The distance from the outside is too great to make a block from the outside commonplace. However, in the indoor game, a 5-man line with no wings makes that a much easier possibility. Because of this, blockers for the kicking team are assigned a man to block, while maintaining gap integrity. The offensive guard in his effort to block Williams disregards his gap integrity because of the real time confusion that is football line play. There is also a conditioning to the front charge. A player becomes accustomed to covering the same front charge over and over, so that when a stunt is called, the need to block the same man becomes habit. This is why stunting every play is unsound defense.
Equate it to a change up in baseball. The batter sees the 95 mph fastball three times in a row, that the 75 mph change up catches him off guard. This is a great call by the Sioux Falls special teams staff, and the outcome allowed the Storm to take a two-score lead going into halftime. This gives the Storm momentum, and was a game changing play that helped give the Storm their second win of the season.