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Trying to toe the line

Coaching techniques, QB situations, hotel woes

Posted: Friday June 15, 2007 11:33AM; Updated: Friday June 15, 2007 3:10PM
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Steelers guard Alan Faneca is a good player to study in terms of proper form for offensive linemen.
Steelers guard Alan Faneca is a good player to study in terms of proper form for offensive linemen.
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The offensive coordinator and line coach of the Budapest Wolves is my E-mailer of the Week. So modest is this gentleman, William Goldenberg, who was born in the Bronx and now lives in Budapest (wasn't everybody?), that he says, "Honestly, I don't expect you to put this in your column, and frankly would prefer that you didn't LOL ... "

Laugh out loud? Not hardly, my man. In fact I think I have something that can help your problem, which you describe as pressing, since "we're in the playoffs against some solid teams." No joke ... I hear the Strudels are loaded this year and the Fighting Goulash is really tough. OK, ha ha, let's get to the heart of the problem.

"I'm kinda at my wit's end," Budapest Bill writes, "about trying to explain to my linemen about not popping up on the snap. Instead of surging forward, they tend to pop right up. I've tweaked their stance, making them put more weight on their hands, as well as bringing their butt up so they're forced to go forward, but would you have any good drills to recommend?"

Some years ago, when I was doing a Joe Montana feature, I went back to his high school reunion, Ringgold in Monongahela, Pa. I had a great time, swapping stories with some of his old teammates. They told me about a drill and a training device that was popular in Western Pennsylvania. It was called the Chute Drill. A chute, kind of like a cage, had been constructed for the purpose of making sure linemen stayed low. You couldn't raise up in it because you'd hit the top of the chute. It was big enough to allow two linemen to square off and go at it, keeping low at all times.

"There were guys we called Chute Monsters," one Ringgold grad told me. "Around 5-8, 235 or so, perfectly built for the Chute Drill. You just hoped you didn't have to go up against one of them."

Do you have any carpenters on your squad, Bill? Do you know any? Are you gifted in that area yourself? Build a chute. You'll have to figure out how high to make it, to prevent your linemen from popping up, as you call it, but still not at absolute torture level. Staying low, coming out of your stance, was something we learned in school but is very difficult to enforce in the NFL, where the offensive linemen have such big bellies, and pass blocking, from a high stance, is the major concern. Good luck.

From Dale of Foster City, Calif. -- "Crazy idea. Expand the NFL season to 20 games but limit each player to 16 appearances, to limit injuries. Expand the rosters to handle the additional games." What you say is very true ... crazy idea. Isn't the season long enough for you? Do you want to play the Super Bowl in March? Enough already!

Rob of Tallahassee, Fla., says "I have a pretty straightforward stat-keeping question." If a defender makes a tackle that forces a fumble and then tackles the player who picks up the fumble and tries to advance it, does he get credit for two tackles on one play? No. Only one tackle per play. But you have to understand that tackles and assists are unofficial stats, just recommendations to the stat crews. And like so many other NFL stats, they're illogical. Why, for instance, doesn't a sacker get credit for a solo tackle as well as a sack? I mean he wraps his arms and brings down an offensive player with the ball in his hands. I posed this question to the NFL's official statistics bureau. Their response was, "What, you again?"

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