Check Your Shield Punt Pro Splits

By FirstDown PlayBook on Sep 12, 2021

The Pitt Panthers went into Knoxville over the weekend and came away with the W. Congratulations to Pat Narduzzi and his staff. However, we want to take a moment to look at a special teams play early in the game. The Vols blocked the very first Pitt shield punt of the game.

It was obviously as much poor shield punt execution on the Pitt unit as it was a great job of scheming by Tennessee. We think, though, that there is an important coaching point or two that can be made on this play. When you break this play down you quickly see that the Vols are not trying to block the kick.

Tennessee has a return on and that might actually be what got Pitt in trouble. Now we have never been a big fan of having only two blockers on the second level for shield punt protection. The protection is great for the college and high school rules but you have to be careful.

Generally speaking, if you want to block a shield punt you have to get one more to the shield than they have in the shield. If you have two guys back do the math. We don’t think that came into play here but it would have helped to have three big guys back there. What really came into play here are the splits and assignments.

If you look at the play diagram below and watch the video you will see two things. The split that the Pitt left Tackle had gave him no chance to make his block. Once again, if you start messing around with really wide splits and only two guys at the second level, bad things can happen.

The second thing is that communication is always key. Shield punt protection always trumps coverage and the Vols were setting up a return so it didn’t look dangerous to Pitt. If the boundary upback and the unfortunate tackle had communicated they could have switched responsibilities. The tackle could have blocked out. The up back would have been fine on the punt blocker.

FirstDown PlayBook is the only Digital Football PlayBook that gives you access to over thirty five thousand football plays, schemes and technique help. All plays are designed by coaches and players with NFL experience. FirstDown PlayBook is also the Official Playbook of NAIA Football and NAIA Women’s Flag Football.