Special Teams: Always Force The Punt

By FirstDown PlayBook on Nov 18, 2023
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Sometimes the simplest of things gets overlooked as coaches draw up their schemes. FirstDown PlayBook saw this more than once this weekend, as we watched college football. We saw punters take the snap and roll out for a rugby punt and literally just hold the ball. Why? The punt return team did not force the punt to be kicked.

Talk about wasting a lot of players’ effort and assignments. If you do not force the punt as a punt return coach you are wasting your unit’s time. What we saw was a rugby punter roll out and just essentially hold the ball until his coverage unit got down the field.

The poor punt returner had no chance. The best he could have done was to fair catch the punt. This is a big task too when you are playing against a rugby punter. It is hard for a punt returner to actually gauge the launch point. The punts are often also line drive type of kicks.

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All of the FirstDown PlayBook Punt Returns have at least one force player and most have two. Why? Well, go back and read the paragraphs above, but there is more. Try explaining to your head coach about why the other team was punting, but the punter decided to tuck it and run for 40 yards. If you don’t have a force player then that is about to happen to you.

So take a look at this short video below. It’s not rocket science but be careful that as you are playing offense with your latest greatest return. Don’t forget that you are still on defense. Once you force the punt, your punt return scheme will have a much better chance of succeeding too.

Special Teams Coach Gerry Gallagher