October 29, 2011; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines offensive linesman David Molk (50) during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Football: Coach's Corner -- The Center of Attention -- What a Luxury Having a Great Center

Posted at 4:30am — 7/15/2013

Michigan Football: Coach’s Corner — The Center of Attention — What a Luxury Having a Great Center

Here is a small sample of the questions we get on our message board and for you guys that haven’t signed up yet for the message board are missing. Doesn’t take much to sign up along with participating on the message board.

Tackles line up and blast people, or move sideways for zone and area blocks. Guards are like knights in chess, they jump around and need to do many things. Centers have plenty of football skills besides blocking to master. A premium center can make line calls, make great dummy calls, and make the other linemen aware of adjustments. Centers have as much responsibility as quarterbacks for ball security since they are the first link to getting a play off.

This article will focus on center play and was catalyzed by a recent inquiry by GBMWolverine board contributor MPBear to our esteemed CoachBt.

The ideal center would be nasty, very nasty. A great center rarely makes a mental mistake. The pad leverage and quickness is so good that rarely if ever a great center gets pushed into the backfield. Experience certainly helps and there is a minimum of needed size. Leadership is a must for a top center, and a good center sometimes gets to a mistake-maker before the quarterback.

So, here is a somewhat sanitized version of the center conversation.

Coach, I would love a breakdown of the Center’s responsibility on every play besides snapping the ball. Basically, does the center make the initial call on the block scheme or is that already determined by the play call?

After the center makes his initial call at the line of scrimmage, is anyone else on the rest of the line allowed to make a call on their own, say to the person next to him?

I’ve always been intrigued by what takes place as the offensive line walks up to the line of scrimmage and the center is pointing everywhere. These may be elementary questions, but so is my knowledge of the topic.
In most schemes MP the key to the offensive center’s call is the defense. We coaches call this blocking the front, not the play. So when the center is pointing, he is trying to identify the defense. The system I use is still based on the one I learned from Jerry Hanlon about 25 years ago. This allows for the offense to block the same play multiple ways and adjust to the defensive front.

Example- Coaches can label all defenses as either a stack, kick down, or kick over. You use the alignment of the quick side defensive tackle to make that call. Next comes the blocking call: some use color, cats; we use numbers, and finally the caller calls out the double teams. We use names, like Tom, but others use girls’ names or whatever they like.

Coach further clarified to Bill: If the quick side DT is in a 3 tech and the NT is either 0 or 1 tech that is a kick down. If the quick side defensive tackle is in a 5 technique that is a kick over, if both offensive guards are covered that is a stack.

Last, Coach responds to Sickleave’s inquiry: They can go up to the line with the intention to block a certain defender, but doesn’t that change if there is a blitz? Don’t you have to block down to protect the QB?

Coach- Pass Pro generally has a different set of rules. The exception is play action where the offense wants the blocking to look as much like run blocking as possible. Pass blocking is as much about reacting to a defense’s stunts and blitzes as making calls. Usually one of the linemen will have to either pass a defender off or come off their block to pick up a blitzer. One strategy is called sliding the protection. When sliding the quarterback will see that there are more defenders on a side than blockers and will make a call and have the line slide or move down in that direction.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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