Tony DeMeo

STALK BLOCKING IN THE TRIPLE GUN OFFENSE

by Tate Gregory

I have the privilege of coaching some of the most unselfish athletes in all of sports, wide receivers in the Triple Gun offense. Every wide receiver on the planet wants the ball thrown their way and feels like they can make plays with the football. Our wide receivers at the University of Charleston are no different in that regard, what we feel separates our wide receivers from others is that not only are our guys willing to block, they embrace stalk blocking and take pride in our backs and quarterbacks running wild around the perimeter. To get on the field for us our receivers know that they can’t just be average stalk blockers some of the time, they have to be very good stalk blockers all of the time. Our wide receivers embrace their role as blockers and get just as much satisfaction after a dominant, touchdown springing stalk block as they do out of catching a touchdown themselves. As a coach there are few things more rewarding than our receivers coming over to sidelines during a game and asking for the ball to be run to his side because he’s kicking a cornerback’s butt play after play.

We use a simple progression in teaching stalk blocking that is based on a few key components; Burst, Shimmy + Compress, Fit, Mirror. Every good stalk block starts with a great burst off the line of scrimmage. We want to burst off the line for three steps with our shoulders down, eyes looking through the feet of the DB, with our aiming point straight down the center of the defensive back’s body. We want the first three steps to look the same on a go route as they do on a stalk block. The burst eats up the DBs cushion and can make our block easier by allowing it to happen twenty yards downfield instead of five. We want our receiver to continue attacking the defensive back, eating up cushion until he sees the defensive back plant his feet to play run or gets within five yards of the defensive back.
To get under control and prepare to engage in contact we tell our receivers to “shimmy and compress.” Shimmy and compress means our receiver is shortening his stride, widening his base, lowering his center of gravity and holstering the hands while closing down the distance between himself and the defensive back. The shimmy puts the receiver in a balanced, athletic, powerful position that prepares him for any move the DB may make. The feet should be wider than shoulder width and the feet should be “buzzing.”

We teach our receivers to shimmy and compress into the “fit position” right down the center of the defensive backs body. In the fit position our receiver must keep his feet, shoulders and hips square to the line of scrimmage. Staying square to line of scrimmage forces the defensive back to play through the wide receivers body, which will not happen if the receiver has a wide base, low center of gravity and keeps his feet buzzing. Staying square to line of scrimmage is something that young wide receivers often have a hard time understanding. They often think that by turning their shoulders and inviting the defensive back to the inside or outside they are doing their job. What they don’t realize is that turning their shoulders allows the defensive back to work up field and force the ball carrier to cut back into the pursuit of the defense. Instead of turning their shoulders, we teach our receivers to use their hat placement to establish leverage. If a receiver is going to establish inside leverage he will fit the DB right down the center of his body, slide his hat inside and then shoot the hands. To maintain this leverage we want to react “fast” to any attempt to cross our face, and “slow” to any move away from us.

We spend the majority of our time focusing on the lower body when stalk blocking. If a receiver is great from the waist down, he can be very average with his hands and upper body strength and still be a solid stalk blocker. A receiver with great upper body strength and long arms will be useless as a stalk blocker if he does not do things right from the waist down. We teach our wide receivers to make contact with the heel of their hands, elbows nearly locked out and hands open. We heavily emphasize that we do not want our receivers to grab cloth. As an option team the ball is out on the perimeter and our receivers understand that their blocks are right out there in the open so it is not worth the risk of trying to hold. If a receiver has great technique from the waist down, he won’t need to hold anyway. When shooting the hands we want both hands firing simultaneously, punching through the chest of the defensive back. It is very important to emphasize patience at the point of attack. The earlier a receiver engages in a block, the longer he has to stay on the block for the ball carrier to get there.

Our receivers doing an outstanding job using this stalk block technique on the field, combined with the great effort they play with on every play was a critical component in our quarterbacks and slot backs rushing for over 2500 yards last season, with the majority of these yards being gained out on the perimeter.

Tate Gregory
Wide Receivers Coach
University of Charleston