Countering cut blocking?

Submitted by lunchboxthegoat on November 10th, 2011 at 8:45 AM

I saw this question asked in another thread and it was never answered and I searched the site and didn't find anything that came up. 

Is there a viable counter/strategy to cut blocking? I know this seems to happen a lot to Campbell (from the Iowa game), Martin, Suh and I just don't have the football accumen to figure out what an opposing defense can do in that instance. 

So any coaches/players/educated observers out there have any insights into this? 


Two Hearted Ale

November 10th, 2011 at 8:55 AM ^

I think I've seen this addressed before. The defender has to use the blocker's inertia against him. When the blocker starts to go down you push him all the way to the ground then step over/around him. I think the biggest issue is recognizing it's coming because once the blocker is engaged you don't stand a chance.

I'm sure there is more to it than this but this is the gist of it from what I recall.


November 10th, 2011 at 9:28 AM ^

You pretty much explained it to a T.  However, this is part of the goal for a lineman who cut blocks.  To bring the defender down every time isn't realistic, but that quick hesitation that the defender does to get past a cut block may be all that is needed for a quick developing play to get past the line of scrimmage.  Any lineman who cuts on any other play unless it's developing on the far on the opposite side of the field is an idiot.

In other words, poor form/timing by the o-lineman is the only true way for a defender to counter a cut block.


November 10th, 2011 at 9:40 AM ^

If you don't recognize it, you are on the ground even with poor technique. If the guy is coming at you, long arms, a strong push and balance can hold an o-lineman off of you regardless of their technique. It is a matter of if you can accelerate them into the ground using their momentum against them without tangling your feet. Crazy strong dancing bears work well.


November 10th, 2011 at 9:41 AM ^

"Any lineman who cuts on any other play unless it's developing on the far on the opposite side of the field is an idiot."

Not always true. MSU used cut blocking on the strong side of stretch plays to create huge piles of bodies for their RBs to run around, and we couldnt stop them.

Space Coyote

November 10th, 2011 at 10:07 AM ^

Minn. used cut blocking almost exclusively for a long time and their run games were always potent.  Cut blocking can work well anywhere on the field if the players are quick enough and get in the right position.  Most offenses just aren't designed to run that type of run game (ala Minn under Mason with their 5 Olinemen about the size of TEs).


November 10th, 2011 at 10:21 AM ^

What was the plan from Minnesota's perspective once the RB gets past the LOS? Were they just hedging there bets on "your LBs won't be effective enough at making the tackle" or "we'll take the 3-4 yards a pop and hope for bigger plays"? Were they expected the LBs to get caught up in the wash most times? Seems like it relies on the runningback a lot more than an offense that uses combo blocks and lineman getting upfield to the second level. 

Space Coyote

November 10th, 2011 at 12:32 PM ^

So it wasn't like everyone just fell down at the line of scrimmage, the would combo to the linebackers and attempt to cut them too.  It gets difficult for linebackers to scrape when there are people littered at their feet everywhere, which is why their run game was successful.  Not to mention they had great backs.  Marion Barber III and Maroney were fast, quick, strong, and had good vision.  


Greg McMurtry

November 10th, 2011 at 10:54 AM ^

to practice "defeating" the cut block.  They have a DL or LB side-step to the gap and then roll the medecine ball at the DL/LB's legs.  The DL/LB then extends his arms forward to block the ball which is simulating a cut block.  With his weight forward which moves his weight through his arms and down onto the cutting lineman, so that the players legs are no longer supporting his weight.


November 10th, 2011 at 8:55 AM ^

It helps (obviously)  to know when / if an OL is going to try to cut you.  If they do it alot you can position your body to avoid / lessen its effects (i.e., stay relatively high and keep your balance.)

The danger comes if you think they're going to cut you and you start out to avoid a cut, then instead they come out blocking normally.  Now your body is high, thinking a cut was coming, and instead they drive block you, and you're hosed.

I recall several years back when Mason was coaching Minnesota, they cut block often and were very effective with it.  You've just got to try to keep your balance and move off the block.

Of course I played for a HS team that didn't have a playbook, so what do I know?


Deep Under Cover

November 10th, 2011 at 9:15 AM ^

I think part of the key is to shoot our hands.  DL are taught to use their hands to lock out and control the offensive lineman and then disengage using a variety of moves.  Obviously knowing a cut block is likely to come is great, but if you are disciplined in using your hands you can at least recover more quickly.


November 10th, 2011 at 9:27 AM ^

Coming from a defensive line coach and a former college DE, the Key is staying low out of your stance and using your hands. If you fire off low (which you should) and have your hands firing out (which you should, for it is easier to engage someone and make a defensive move, than to be engaged then make a defensive move) you will stop their momentum with your hands and then shove them to the ground. Best hand placement would be one on top of the helmet and one on a shoulder.


edit: mostly stated above.

edit again: Cut blocking also means less blockers getting to the linebacker, so it should partly fall on them as well to make a play.


November 10th, 2011 at 9:42 AM ^

Exactly.  At this point your job is to stay up, stay active and destroy the lane that they expected to develop.  This ties up the first lineman and delays any second level blocking efforts.  At that point the linebackers need to take advantage of their freedom and make the play.


November 10th, 2011 at 9:37 AM ^

I was a center in high school and a very small one to say the least 6 ft 225. I usually had guys ranging from 260-300 lined up over me. I ALWAY cut blocked. We ran the wing t so it was usually pretty productive. But to answer your question from being on the o side of it. When I cut the 300 lb guys who were slow and just there to eat space, they were taken out of the play everytime. They just werent athletic enough to breakaway from a guy who takes out there knee caps. The one game I can say I felt like I was getting owned was against a kid who might have been 6'3 240 and was athletic as hell. The first play of the game he put my helmet straight into the turf, jumped me, and grabbed the qb while he was handing the ball off. After that play, I stopped cutting him the rest of the game. Another good way to blow up cut blocking is to send two players to the same gap. You can only take one and the other one has a cake walk into the back field unless you get help. This was my high school experience but that's what i can tell you from an offensive stand point.


November 10th, 2011 at 9:52 AM ^

Good hand punch and active feet are critical. Many d-line coaches will practice countering cut blocks by aggressively rolling large , inflated exercise balls at d-lineman in their stances.


November 10th, 2011 at 9:54 AM ^

knee into a soft, hopefully unpadded area, and leave cleat marks if you can get over them. Go ahead and cut - here is the price.


November 10th, 2011 at 10:34 AM ^

It is powerful because an effective way to defend it -- giving some ground -- goes directly against football nature.  Giving ground isn't the cardinal sin of defensive football; getting taken to the ground is. 

steve sharik

November 10th, 2011 at 10:46 AM ^

...b/c it has been well addressed above.  The important thing is that the players drill defeating a cut block in practice.  I know Coach Rod's staff did this as I saw it in practice.  I would guess that if the current staff hadn't drilled it at first, they have since done so after seeing it done to them repeatedly in games.  FWIW, it was one of the critiques of the M defense from "insiders" back in the mid- to late '90s that the UM D had poor technique defending cut blocks. 


November 10th, 2011 at 11:09 AM ^

it's all about firing off low and being able to use your hands quickly and effectively.  If course, it helps if you're athletic to defeat cut block to get back right up quickly. This is why it's ideal that you find DL who has long arms so they can reach the OL quicker to defeat any blocks they may have planned at their disposal.

micheal honcho

November 10th, 2011 at 11:41 AM ^

When they cut you and you're coming down on top of them make sure you drive your knee/elbow/helmet into their short ribs or kidney area and then in the process of getting up make sure and get that extra knee into their side.  I believe it was Buddy Ryan that instructed Richard Dent & his other lineman to make sure they "pay the price" if they choose to cut you since they're potentially endangering you knees they need to experience some pain themselves, otherwise they're gonna cut you all day.


November 10th, 2011 at 11:49 AM ^

You guys mentioned a lot about technique, but from a strategic standpoint, wouldn't some twists help with the cutblocks?  If an Olineman is ready to cut the guy in front of him, and then at the snap that defender is no longer in front of him, it would at least throw off hte timing of the cut block, and perhaps lessen it's effectiveness, no?

My experience is only high school DE, and I was rarely cutblock.  If I saw someone diving at my knees I'd just go wider around them.