Many coaches look at punting as the raising of the white flag when on offense. Some coaches even look at punting as what you do when you've failed to move the ball. I look at punting as an opportunity to stress my opponent even further. For years I was like the others and simply aligned in a standard tight punt formation, punted the ball, hoped like hell my guys covered well and got the defense on the field. Well, not anymore! I'm going to take you through some of the evolution of my punt teams to where we are today and show you how you should relish the chance to punt the football instead of looking at fourth down as a failure!
A few years back in American Football Monthly magazine, there was an article on the Loco Punt. I can't remember the specifics, but I remember the scheme being very simple, fake friendly and utilized directional punting. What I really liked about the Loco Punt was not only the directional punting, but the fact you punted towards a split receiver, who could release and get down field quickly. I also liked all the fake potential the Loco Punt had as well. Here is the base formation:
The punter started by initiating a "shift" call which took the WB and moved him on the LOS and dropped the RE off. Once set, the RE would then go in motion and align as a wing to the left side of the formation as shown below.
The punt protection and coverage schemes were also very simple, so much so we really only repped them once a week. The fakes made us known around our league as a team that fourth down didn't always mean we were going to punt. The last season I was in charge of the punt team we had a punt fake success rate of over 75 percent with 7 or less yards to gain (it helped our punter was also an option QB)!!! Needless to say I was sold on the idea that punting was "giving up".
The Wildcat Punt
Well, enter my new job, where last year I really only dealt with defense, and now this season due to our head coach being sick, I'm now in charge of just about EVERYTHING! So, I got a chance to go back to the punt team. Well, we have chosen to run Dave Cisar's Unbalanced Single Wing Offense and one formation in his playbook is very similar to the good ol' Wildcat. I looked at that formation some time before deciding to go with some things, but here's what I came up with and so far we've been DEADLY with our punt team.
Coverage is also very easy, and since most teams can ill afford to give up six players to double team the three gunners you have presented them, you now have easy free releases down field for the RE, LE and the WB. The coverage for the Wildcat punt is shown below:
The fakes are the key essentials to the Wildcat punt as well. If we want our punter to read the punt return team's reaction to our scheme, we give him a "green" call, which stands for green light if the punt return team bails out in coverage. The punter will see this and simply tuck the ball and run for the first down.
The OL simply blocks the GOD rule (inside gap, on, down) with the right guard pulling and wrapping while the BB leads. This call has been made because the defense decided to give us four players to our two-man surface. Depending on who you have at punter either the punter can call this fake or the coach, but either way you have caught the defense guessing, and now are making them pay for it.
If the defense chooses to overload the strong side of the formation, we simply check to the sweep to the weak side. Since we rugby punt, many teams will try to do this overload, but it leaves them extremely weak to the short side of the formation.
If the distance to go is greater than you want to run for it, or the defense has remained balance, yet you still need the fake, the pass fake is a good way of moving the ball down field. The RE will clear the zone by releasing outside as if covering and running a "go" route. The WB, will also take his normal release, but will run an out route instead of covering (this route is usually wide open because the safety has been trying to block the WB all night long covering punts, he does not expect an out route here). The QB, will drag across the formation looking to come out on the strong side about two yards deep giving the punter an outlet receiver if he gets in trouble. The line blocks with hinge protection and the BB slides out and blocks the first threat outside the PT. The punter gets the snap looks to punt for two steps then rolls out looking to hit the WB at the first down marker.