Backside Cut off Technique

A friend asked me to describe a backside cut off technique for an OL away from the play.  This is a skill set used in a variety of plays ina variety of offenses.  As more and more teams use the gun/pistol you see less teams working cut blocks (I know from experience refs are all over the place with allowing, or flagging you for cutting while in gun).  The old “just cut on the backside” is not always a viable option, so an OL needs another tool in the tool box.

I present to you, the backside cut off.  Imagine stretch or power to the left… something where we all KNOW the ball is going left, and your backside RT just needs to stop/occupy a backside 3 technique (so you can have RG work zone or so he can pull).  The RT needs to put himself between the defender (who has already out leveraged him, and the football (ball will be to the left off tackle or wider probably).

If the 3 technique isn’t that good he can just work a standard reach block technique… angle step, aim at his arm pit, get head across, run your feet… blah blah blah, he is sealed.

But if the 3 technique is too good (whether he is penetrating or reading and flowing) to cut off with a basic reach, we will use this cut off technique.

We call this a “Rip through” or a “box out”.

  1. RT will “bucket” or “drop” step with his inside foot in order to get depth off of the LOS, and open his hips up to run.
  2. he will bring the right foot aiming outside the defender WHILE ripping up through him with the far (right) arm.  This motion happens together.
  3. He will attempt to run around the defender, keeping pressure on him with the back of his right hand/arm/shoulder and back.
  4. once he feels the defender on his backside he will widen his base and just like a basketball player in the paint, he will “box him out”.

The OL can give up ground off the LOS to make the block, he can even get pushed down form behind onto his face, i don’t care… but if he is able to get his body in between the defender and the ball, he has effectively CUT HIM OFF from the play.

Step by Step of myself working the backside cut off/box out.

Full speed

Here is a clip of an NFL LT working the backside box out technique.  I give credit to @coachmattjones for this clip, he does a great job breaking down OL play on his twitter account.

XO Wizard


I recently discovered a site called XO WIZARD.  XO Wizard is an online playbook making software that I just began trying with my team.  The drawing/diagramming features are easy to use but what makes this unique is the ability to use video to teach/install your playbook.  I have gone away from traditional paper playbooks with my team and prefer to use actual video clips to teach my schemes to my players.  Seeing the video, rather than just lines on paper has helped to improve the learning retention.

Our install is much smoother teaching from video rather than paper hand outs (that end up crumpled up on the locker room floor anyway) and we are able to run through things faster when we work them on the field.

Another feature is the  XO Wizard Blog. New posts are put up frequently here, including a new interview series called “How We Coach”.  Be on the lookout for my interview, it will be published there soon and you can see into more of the details of how I coach and run my program.

One last feature of XO Wizard I like is their Twitter Account: @xowizard

They post links to other coaching resources/information and do weekly “Link Blitzes” where they provide great write ups/break downs from other coaches and bloggers like myself.

They offer a 14 day free trial of their playbook software, I recommend giving it a try to see if it might be useful to you and your program.

Stanford Pin n Pull


Stanford is one of the best in the country at utilizing the Pin and Pull Scheme (PNP).  PNP is a style of outside zone that gives some offensive linemen better angles to achieve their blocks.  Rather than rely on a full zone or reach scheme, PNP uses a combination of PIN or down blocks, and pulls.


The TE is they key to a successful PNP scheme.  The TE will typically work to seal the edge by reaching a DE.  If he is unable to hook the DE he will flip him outside and try to expand the C gap for the pullers and Rb to turn up inside.


Against a C gap defender or 7 tech as many call it (often in an odd front) the TE can either pin him and rely on a puller to block whoever has walked up on the edge (D gap) or he can make a call for the OT and him to both reach playside.

There can be some variation in how the TE/PST choose to block this.  A personnel or gameplanning decision will often dictate how they want to block the edge for the week.  A team can also use blocking tags to tell the TE/PST when to follow the PIN or PULL rule, and when he and the OT should reach it.

Another variation is with the backside guard.  Sometimes Stanford chooses to pull him playside as well, and use the backside tackle to cut any backside interior DT.  My guess is they pull him when they think they can do it without risking a big loss and against the better DTs choose to zone it to avoid a big hole opening for a dominant DT to penetrate through and blow up the play int he backfield.


This scheme can use anywhere from 1 to 3 pullers from the OL working playside.  They need to have vision like a good Rb as they aim to work around the block of the playside TE.  A general coaching point would be to “follow his butt”.  This means that as each OL pulls playside, he is looking to work off of the butt of the OL in front of him.

So as one OL pulls, if he sees TE’s butt getting around the edge, he follows it outside and works to either kick OUT a force player or lead UP.  If he sees the TE’s butt facing him, the TE has had to kick out the DE, and he must turn up inside of this block.  The next puller(s) are chasing/reading the butt of the puller in front of him.  If he kicks out force, the butt will be facing them and they should turn up.  If the butt gets square and is working around, they should follow it outside.

Stanford often ends up with a wall of bodies leading through the alley for Christian McCaffrey.  It helps having a back with great vision as he can find holes that open up in the defense as they are stressed horizontally but teaching the OL to have great vision is critical to the play’s success.

I run a similar concept at my school and the general rule for all pullers in space is OUT, UP, IN.  Their eyes/hips/feet should be following this general progression.  First puller would likely be getting a kick out on force or leading up on a LB/SS.  The next puller would be reading the butt and leading UP or IN based off of his block.  I tell our pullers on this play they get to be a RB and find the holes.


The backside OT and OG will scoop/reach their playside gaps while the general rule for the frontside OL is to PIN or PULL.  Pin a defender if they have one to their inside gap, or pull playside to lead the play.

Below is a basic example of what PNP would look like against a 4 man front.  The backside zones.  The RT down blocks.  The TE reaches the DE.  The RG and C pull.

Diagram 1: Pin and Pull vs 4 man front

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Here is an example against an odd front.  Here the TE will pin the DE/7 tech and the OT will pull to the walked up OLB.

Diagram 2: Pin and Pull vs 5 man front

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In this variation the TE and OT will work to reach the DE and OLB while the rest of the OL follows their PNP rules.

Diagram 3: Pin and Pull vs 5 man front with OT/TE REACH

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 8.43.27 PM

Below are video breakdowns of several of Stanford’s PNP runs from this season.  These video breakdowns show some great examples of both the most basic PNP rule following scheme (first video), to their variations in the scheme (other videos).


Some more resources/info on the Pin n Pull Scheme can be found herehereand here.