EPISODE 6: BE PROACTIVE IN YOUR PRE-SNAP ON YOUR PASS RUSH

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What's up Big Dawg? This is Coach Rolle at Five Star Linemen Academy. And welcome to another episode of BIG DAWG TRENCH TALK. Man, I'm super excited about this podcast. I'm excited to talk about this particular topic because I know it's going to be good to you.

Listen, coaches if you want to coach your pass rushers to be better, please listen to this episode. And if you're a pass rusher and you want to be a better pass rusher, I suggest you take your notepad out and listen. The thing that I'm getting ready to share with you I didn't figure out until a lot later than I should have figured it out.

I used to hear a pastor say, “Only if I knew then what I know now, ha!” That's what I'm saying. If I would have known then what I know now, Big Dawg, they would have been in more trouble than what they already was in. I'm telling you.

So, one of the most common questions I get, I get this question all the time, and the question is, Coach, what is the best pass rush move I can do? What is that pass rush move that's going to guarantee me a sack coach? What's that move? Coach, I need that secret sauce. I need to crack the code. What is it coach? I know you know it. What's that pass rush move that's going to get me where I want to go? Sack City, what is it?

Well Big Dawg I got your answer, but I'm just warning you, this answer is going to be a little unorthodox. It's not going to be your traditional answer. It may not be what you want to hear. But if you want hear, here it go.

What if the answer is not just in that pass rush move itself? In other words, there's more to it than just the move. There is an element that we are missing when we focus so much on what move to do and how to do the move but we give no attention to where. We talk a lot about what move to do. We even go into depths as to how to do the move, which is important, but we are missing the where.

Okay, hear me out. The problem is not just in your pass rush move, but it is also in the fact that you don't move before your pass rush. Big Dawg listen to me. You keep doing the same move from the same spot over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. I think there's a deeper metaphor than that? Yeah episode six; be proactive in your pre-snap. Pastor hit it for me one time.

I'm just telling the truth. Big Dawg, you can't keep doing the same move from the same spot. You out there looking like a broken record, broken record, broken record. What I'm saying is, you're too predictable Big Dawg. That offensive lineman knows exactly what you're going to do because you keep doing it from the same spot.

Let's flip sides for a second. Let's say you're the offensive lineman. Matter fact, let's say you're the offensive guard and you're a three technique. Let me help you out with something.

Most of the time a good offensive lineman knows your assignment because he sees your alignment. A good offensive lineman knows the importance of foot leverage. He wants to try to get that knee, his knee, in your crouch as soon as possible. Most linemen will say, “I'm just trying to cover him up.” Or, “I'm trying to get on top of his line.”

Well how does a good offensive lineman know what your line is? In other words, how does a good offensive lineman know where you're going to go? How does he know that?

Well he knows that because he’s looking at your alignment. He's looking at your alignment, your line. Where you're lined up most of the time is the line you're going to take. If you're lined up in a tight three, if that is your alignment, then that's the line you are going to travel. So if I'm an offensive guard, and it's an example, I can look at your alignment and I can tell what line you're going to rush on, predictable.

Let's take it a step further. If you have your man hand stance down, again, what would a good offensive guard know you're going to do? Well most of the time if you have been taught the proper me mechanics, you are going to step with your back foot and you are going to step to your hand.

So, if I see that you are in a tight three with your man hand stance down, as an offensive guard I know you're going to step to your hand. So therefore, if I'm an offensive guard, I know your line because I'm looking at your alignment. So if I can just get on top of your line and get in front of your hand, I'll know that I'm going to cover you up because you're going to step in front of your hand. I know that. I'm a good offensive lineman.

Come on, think and flip sides with me for a second. My daddy used to always tell me, “Son, if you want to keep from being robbed, think like a thief.” Well Big Dawg, if you want to keep from being blocked, think like an offensive lineman. Think with me for a second. Think, think, think!

I have had coaches come to me and say, “Coach, when I'm training my defensive lineman, I teach them to put that same hand down every time. And my defensive ends every time they rush off the edge in the two-point stance, I'll have them put the same foot up.”

Okay. Well if they have the same foot up, most the time they're going to take the same step. And if they're in the same stance, most of the time they're going to take the same step. At what point do we ever adjust our alignment or our stance?

Hold on one second Big Dawg, let me go and get my Big Dawg Bible. Where is it? Hold on one second. Give me a second. Okay, I always have it near and dear. Let me open up to a couple proverbs I would love to read to you. Appreciate the time. Let me see. Here we go, right here. “Oh you faithful pass rusher, heads up, you must change the rhythm of your rush.” You have to change the rhythm of your rush. Change the rhythm of your rush.

In other words, because you keep the same alignment and doing the same move, every time you take two steps that offensive lineman is in front of you. Or every time you take one step, that offensive lineman is in front of you. He's got you covered. Why does he know you so well? Because you keep doing the same thing, probably the same move over and over again. You are predictable. At what point are you going to change the rhythm?

If an offensive lineman is getting used to punching you in two kicks and you keep giving him that same rhythm, every two kicks he is punching you, kick, kick, punch, kick, kick, punch, change the rhythm. How do I change the rhythm? How do I change the place of the fight? Maybe you should move over.

The pass rush move may require for you to move. Just move. Move a little bit. What if you didn't line up in a tight three? What if you widened out a little bit in a wide three? What if you moved to a four I, what if you just moved? Change your alignment.

When you change your alignment, you've just changed your line. Do you think that offensive lineman did not notice that you changed your alignment and you just changed your line? It means you're on a different path. Is he going to punch you in two kicks? No, because you just widened your alignment.

Now, he’s not sure all of a sudden how many kicks he has to take to make contact. He's not necessarily sure where the point of attack is going to be. He's like, well he’s going to get tight to the fight but where is that going to be? Is that going to be in three kicks, is that going to be in one kick or two kicks? I don't know because he just changed his alignment.

Change the rhythm of your rush. Change the rhythm of your rush. You have to move. You have to be proactive in your pre-snap on your pass rush. You have to be proactive in the pre-snap on your pass rush by simply moving your alignment or what we used to call back in the day, stem a little bit. It's going to throw that offensive lineman off. I don't care how good he is, you just messed with him mentally because you just adjusted your stance.

Now, you might do the same move but that same move is not going to be the same move or have the same effect because you just changed your alignment. Psychologically, you're messing with him a little bit because he’s thinking, “Oh, he’s going to do a different move.” And you might do a different move, your choice, but just know once you've moved a little bit and adjusted your alignment and altered your line, you just changed the rhythm of your rush.

Now you're not predictable because he is not going to punch you in two kicks, he’s not necessarily sure how this is going to go. And the fact that he’s thinking about it because you just shifted a little bit, brings a little confusion and maybe a little fear. Some offensive linemen have gotten so used to the rhythm that even though you've moved your alignment, he’s going to be used to let his hands go in two kicks.

But guess what Big Dawg? You're not going to be there in two kicks. Why is that? Because you just widened your stance. You changed your alignment. You just changed the rhythm of your rush but muscle memory is telling him two kicks, punch, two kicks, punch.

Well this time, two kicks, release your hands, he’s reaching for you, ta, ta, hand combat, he goes to quarterback. You heard me. Two kicks, release those hands, ta, ta, hand combat, he goes to quarterback. What are you saying Big Dawg? I'm glad you asked. What I'm saying is, is that sometimes the move is not the problem. Sometimes the problem is that you didn't move.

Here's another proverb I want to read to you from the Big Dawg Bible of course. And it reads, “Oh football player, you want change but you won't change a thing.” But where I'm from Big Dawg, that's called insanity. You know what I'm saying? Insanity as in, you keep doing the same thing over and over and over and over again but you expect something different to happen.

What's wrong with you Big Dawg? If you don't change anything there will never be change. The only way to change is through change. You are not going to get the change you want if you're not willing to change.

Unfortunately, I work with so many defensive lineman that when I first get them, they are afraid of change. They are scared that the change isn't going to work. So I ask them, “Okay, so you're telling me you don't think that this is going to work? In your mind it is not going to work. There is no chance of this working. Question for you, have you actually tried it?” They'll say, “No.” And my answer will be, “So you're telling me that it's not going to work and you haven't tried it.”

Coaches how many of our athletes have said to themselves, “That's not going to work.” Yet they have not even tried it. They didn't even try to change. You're trying to figure out, “Gosh, what am I doing wrong as a coach.” You aren't doing nothing wrong as a coach. They won't change. Why? Because they are afraid of change. They are afraid that if they change it's not going to work.

Well the only thing that beats a fail is a try. You haven't even tried it. You haven't tried it yet Big Dawg. How do you know it's not going to work? Either way, you have to be willing to change. You have to change the rhythm of your rush. You cannot be predictable.

You will be surprised how much an inch will change your life. I know that may sound dramatic, but I'm telling you, an inch to the right will change your life. An inch to the left, an inch off the line of scrimmage will change everything. The mere fact that you're changing can bring you success because it's not necessarily where you are, it's the fact that you're moving. You can't be tracked or you can't be traced.

I have a perfect example for you. I'm playing college football at the University of Florida. They had me at nose tackle at the time. That was around 2000, yeah, my bad. Sorry. I'm not telling you how old I am.

But anyways, so I'm playing nose tackle and I'm doing really good, right? I'm tearing this in the up. I'm doing my hands, I'm cashing the hands, sweeping, quick swimming, all that stuff. I'm doing my thing Big Dawg. You should have saw me out there in that blue and orange at University of Florida. If you're not a Gator, you're Gator bait. You know what I'm saying? Are Florida boys out there?

So anyways, but something started happening that I didn't like, right? So the center is tearing me up. He locking me down. I'm sitting there like, “Whoa, wait a minute, what's going on?” The moves that I was just doing on camp, all of a sudden they're not working no more. I'm like, “This guy got better or did I get worse?”

I'm sitting there with my head in my hands trying to figure out what's going on. I am puzzled Big Dawg, I don't know what's happening. But I was doing the same moves over and over and over again. Now I mixed it up but I was in the same spot as I was doing the same moves, right? I wasn't necessarily moving as much as I could have been.

So, this thing starts really bothering me. I mean I was sitting there depressed. You know what I'm saying? I'm like, ‘Man, I may not get as much playing time because of all of a sudden I'm not winning my one-on-ones, right? What's going on?”

So, I go in the film room and I'm sitting there in the film room by myself. You understand? I'm sitting there by myself. I don't want nobody there around me. I just got my clicker in my hand and I'm sitting in film by myself.

All you college athletes out there with them iPads, you all are spoiled, man. You all are spoiled. I didn't have no iPad. I had a clicker. I had that clicker and I was in that film room watching film, the way it should be done not an iPad. I'm messing with you all man, that's pretty cool.

But I'm sitting there watching film and as I'm watching film I'm like, “Man, what is this?” I'm rewinding it, I'm rewinding it, pausing it, rewinding it, pausing it, rewinding it, and I'm like, “Man, what's going on?” So, as I'm watching it, something came over me and I began to … I paused it and when I paused it, I looked at what the center was doing.

Well come to find out, I was so close to him and I was exploding off the ball that eventually he found my rhythm. He knew what was going on. He knew that when the ball snapped in one kick for him, and two of my steps, I would run right into his hands. I kept running right into his hands and I did not realize that he started to identify my rhythm. I didn't catch that.

I'm like, “Okay, I think I know what it is. He's snapping and throwing his hands out there and me being dumb, I'm running right into his hands and he’s just grabbing cloth.” So I said, “You know what? I think I know what I'm going to do.”

And it came over me. I said, “You know what? I'm going to back up an inch. I'm going to back up an inch see what happens because I think if I back up just a little bit …” I know sometimes we say crowd the ball, crowd the ball, crowd the ball. Yeah, it's good sometimes but you got to change. Change the rhythm of your rush, change your alignment.

So all right. Next day I got my game plan. My game plan is I'm going to make it look like the same thing, that I'm in the same alignment, but instead of me widening out, I'm going to actually back up just a little bit. So I try it. Here we go. I couldn't wait for one-on-one boy. It was the big payback. You know what I'm saying? I couldn't wait to get him back Jack.

But here it is, one-on-one and I lined up, and I just slid back an inch, maybe two, just back a little bit and the ball snapped. I still took my same steps but I was in a different alignment, backed off the ball a little bit.

This time, he snapped the ball, his hands was out there and I saw him this time, he was in there floating. Guess what I did? Ta, ta, ta, hand combat, go get that quarterback. That's exactly what happened. His hand was out there floating because he was used to that rhythm and all he was doing is throwing his hands out there and silly me, right, I was running right into his hands. Not this time. I figured out that an inch, that inch changed my life.

As soon as I did that, then I started to actually move my alignment a little bit. I started moving it, differentiating my position where he couldn't track or trace me. He couldn't tell what the rhythm of my rush was.

It was at that point I realized that I got revelational knowledge that I have to change, that if I want change I have to change. The only way to change is through change. I had to change the rhythm of my rush. I needed to be proactive in my pre-snap of my pass rush.

Are you getting what I'm saying? It wasn't the pass rush move that was causing me to lose. I was winning with that pass rush move. It was the fact that I wasn't moving before my pass rush move. I wasn't being proactive. I wasn't adjusting my alignment.

Have you all ever seen Any Given Sunday, that movie, 1999 came out, 1999 with Al Pacino? If you've seen that movie you probably already know what I'm getting ready to talk about. Probably one of my favorite quotes or football movies of all time.

Al Pacino, the head coach, and you got all these football players in a locker room and right now they're losing, right? So Al Pacino makes this awesome speech and he says something like this. “Life's this game of inches, so is football.”

And all of a sudden you see Al Pacino pointing at Jamie Foxx and Jamie Foxx has got that eye, the tiger in his eyes, or at least he’s trying to have that eye of the tiger and then he says, “Because in either game, life or football, the margin of error is so small.” Here it come right here Big Dawg, my favorite line, “The inches we need are everywhere around us.” Wait, hold on. Say that one more time Al Pacino. “The inches we need are everywhere around us.”

What are you talking about? “Inches.” Where are they Al Pacino? “Everywhere around us.” Everywhere? “Everywhere.” Man, that's a true statement man. What we need to succeed is right there. We are inches away sometimes from success. Literally inches away. If we would just back up a little bit, if we would just move over a little bit, if we could just simply change it will bring forth change.

Think about what I'm saying. The inches of success that we have are everywhere. We have to learn to use everywhere, not just this spot or that spot or this stance or that stance.

If I'm doing something that's going to cause me to be predictable, then I'm not doing the right thing. If you ever read any books on war, one of the elements of war is surprise. Got you. You thought I was going to be there, but I'm not. Pop, pop, pop, hand combat, got you quarterback.

What does it take to be successful in your pass rush? You have to be willing to sacrifice an inch to gain an inch. Think about that for a second. Coaches and athletes. As a coach, have you ever seen your athlete an inch away or a step away from the quarterback?

Athletes, my Big Dawgs, have you ever been a step away, a reach away, inches away from swatting at that ball when that quarterback is throwing that ball on the high L and there you was inches away from making a play. You was inches away from making the play. Well we could have gained that inch when we moved an inch. Maybe by moving an inch we would have gained an inch to make that play.

This is what I'm saying every time I say we have to teach our Big Dawgs to be tacticians in the trenches. Tacticians, what is your tactic? It's not just the weapon you're using, it's not just knowing how to use the weapon.

But what is your tactic? It's not only about what move to do and it's not only about how to do the move. It's also matters where. Where should I start this time? How can I change the rhythm of this rush where I am not predictable? Your answer is an inch away or an inch to. Football is truly a game of inches.

So, let me give you another practical scenario. There is so much to this, but let me give you another example. Let's go back to my three technique because I gave you an example on it previously.

Let's say, again, you're lined up in tight three. You should know what that guard is thinking. You should know that if you're a tight three in a man hand stance, that guard should know where you're going to step and you know that he knows that. You're a step ahead of him. You want him to know that. You want him to get used to that rhythm.

So now we want to change. We want to change our alignment. So now let's say we move ourselves couple inches over and actually line up in a four I. When I say four I I'm speaking to the inside shoulder of the tackle, right on that tackle's toe.

Now you got to keep in mind that that tackle has a defensive end or an outside backer. If that offensive lineman, is not fanning, that offensive tackle has to take that defensive end.

So whatever that offensive tackle has lined up, he has to move off that spot. He got to pick his poison. If he stays there, that defensive end is going to bend a corner on him. But if he moves, you have this space now that you can work vertical to.

Now the offensive guard is trying his best to cover you up. But guess what Big Dawg? You too far. You too quick. You ate too much turf. You beat him to the point of attack. Now all of a sudden he’s reaching for you because he did not get on top of your line. And why did he not get on top of your line? Because you changed your alignment.

You are smart. You made a good choice. You adjusted your alignment, which completely changed your projectory, your pass rush route. Now all of a sudden you're out of reach. Pop, pop, pop, hand combat, got your quarterback.

These are the kind of things I mean when I say you have to be a tactician in the trenches. What is your tactic? What is your tactic that goes along with your attack? Every attack has to have a tactic. Be a tactician in the trenches. Don't just focus so much on what move to do and how to do the move, but also pinpoint where to do it.

Do I quick swim from a tight three, do I quick swim from a four I as I rush to guard, do I put my man hand down or my gap hand down, do I back up off the line of scrimmage an inch, or do I crowd the line of scrimmage?

See now you're being smart. Now you're being a tactician. Now you're playing chess in the trenches. You got him thinking and any time you get an offensive alignment thinking, he is playing slow while you playing quick.

And in the trenches you know we need every edge we can get. We need every advantage we can find. Play with his mind while you're on your grind. You see? You're not just attacking his body. You don't have to keep lining up in a tight three and bullying him over and over and over and over and over again. You don't have to do that Big Dawg.

Yes, play hard, be aggressive, play with good leverage, out will the man in front of you, be hungrier than him, it's two pieces of meat and one dog, who going to eat? Yes all that whole is true. But why can't I be smarter than you? Why can't I use my mind to get inside? Sometimes you got to give a little to gain a lot. Come on, think with me Big Dawg, think!

Let me repeat the question again now that we've had this discussion, coach, what's the best pass rush move I can do? What's that pass rush that's going to get me to the quarterback? What's my answer? Big Dawg, be proactive in the pre-snap. Do the move that works with you but be proactive in your pre-snap before the pass rush. That can sometimes be just as effective as the move itself.

Be proactive, move an inch, move back, adjust your alignment and now your alignment is not predictable. Change the rhythm of your rush. Don't allow him to get into a rhythm and get into a perfect set every time you rush to quarterback.

My answer, stop doing the same move from the same spot over and over and over again. If you won't change, Big Dawg, you got to change. The only way to change is through change. Be proactive in your pre-snap. Big Dawg, coaches, I promise you when you learn how to skillfully adjust your positioning on the line of scrimmage, it's going to make all the difference in the world.

I'm telling you, I always go back to the time where I was having trouble at nose tackle. Though I was down in the dumps but I was getting blocked, I was so grateful for that experience because I had learned a valuable lesson. And that is change brought me brought change, and I learned that I can't be afraid of change. I can't be afraid to fail so therefore refuse to change.

Well Big Dawg, I want you to know something, have you ever thought of walking as falling. Walking is falling forward. The problem is, is that as you were trying to walk you were failing so much that you figured it out. You said, “You know what? I'm tired of falling forward and landing on my face. So you know what I'm going to do this time? The next time I lean forward I'm actually going to stick my leg in front of me.

Let's try this. I'm going to lean forward and I'm going to stick my leg in front of me. I'm going to do something different. I'm going to change. I'm going to fall forward and stick my leg in front of me. Oh, I caught myself. I'm going to fall forward again and stick my other leg in front of me. Wow, I caught myself. Look what I'm doing, I'm walking.”

Walking is falling, you just learn not how to fall as you fall forward as you walk. Sometimes falling is exactly what we need. So hopefully falling will bring change because eventually Big Dawg, we all get tired of falling.

So the champion in me says I'm tired of losing, you know what? I'm going to do something different. I'm going to change. Big Dawg, don't be afraid of change because change, good change will change your life. Pastor one more time for me. You know I'm just telling the truth.

Hey Big Dawg, I know we got better today. That's what it's all about. Good is not good when better is expected. Your progress is our success and we're succeeding because you're proceeding and that's what it's all about for us over here at Big Dawg Football.

As always, thank you for your time because it is valuable and we appreciate you spending these few minutes with us. I sincerely appreciate you spending these minutes with me Big Dawg talking trenches like two wise men under a tree. Finally found something good to eat trying to teach and train these young men to keep them off the street. Go Big Dawg. Go be the king you was meant to be.