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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Cut Block or Chop Block

This Saturday, Notre Dame will again face Navy, the triple option and the infamous cut block.
The cut block is basically the same as the chop block and in many coaching circles it is considered a dangerous block that can cause serious injury to the knee and ankle.

Years ago I remember Lou Holtz ranting and raving against Air Force for cut blocks which he considered illegal.

Here’s some good info:

Cut blocks are legal mainly in the open field. This allows the defensive player an opportunity to avoid or hurdle the block. The main area in which a cut block is not legal is in the trenches at the line of scrimmage.
Now, it's obviously very easy for an offensive lineman to make a block on a defensive lineman by chopping him at the line of scrimmage. But with the amount of injuries that have occurred over the years from cut blocks, rules have changed making the cut block at the line of scrimmage illegal and will result in a penalty.

Cut blocks are also illegal to perform against a player that is already engaged in a block with another player. Meaning, if I'm a wide receiver or offensive lineman or running and I’m looking to make a block for someone, I can not intentionally go at the feet of a defender who is already being blocked.

Most triple option teams employ the cut block out of necessity because of lineman size differential and inability to go toe-to-toe with superior size and strength. Defensive ends, linebackers, and laterally pursuing linemen are the likely targets. Although safeties and cornerbacks had better be prepared like good boy scouts. The option is ideal for cut blocking since it is moving away from the line of scrimmage and into the open field.

Of course we all remember the debacle last year: Navy 23 –Notre Dame 21. It was the undoing of Charlie Weis and the unraveling of Corwin Brown. It’s also when I fell or jumped off the Weis band wagon. Anyway, Corwin worked with the defense along with John Tenuta, both had goofy titles to confuse the fact that Weis couldn’t make up his mind on a defensive coordinator or a defensive scheme.

So, after the embarrassing loss, Brown took it upon himself to call Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo and complain bitterly about his boys being blocked by cheap cut blocking that endangered his players safety and well being. Niumatalolo wrote it off as sour grapes and Weis jumped all over Brown for going over his head.

So we shall see. It was interesting that Kelly recently revealed that Notre Dame has been spending 20 minutes at practice all year preparing for Navy and Army who employ the triple option and cut block when necessary.

Go IRISH Torpedo Navy!

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