Football is littered with specialized terminology. From punt gunner to climbing the pocket, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.
Shield Punt Formation
Shield punt formation differs from traditional punt protection, known as “spread punt” in a number of ways. First, shield punt formation is only allowed in college football. Whereas spread punt protection looks similar to a normal offensive line, shield punt protection places much bigger splits between linemen – typically 2 to 4 yards depending on the team. NCAA rules differ from NFL rules in that there is no penalty for a lineman being downfield illegally. Shield punt takes advantage of this by placing all linemen in a situation where they can quickly make a block while moving forward, and then get downfield to make a tackle.
The below still is from the matchup between Michigan State and Iowa. The Spartans align in shield punt formation with six men spaced 2 yards apart on the line of scrimmage, with one gunner lined up in a tight slot to the right. Six yards behind them is a wall of three men (the shield), which will take on any rushers getting through the first line:
Unlike spread punt, which blocks from the inside out, shield punt typically leaves defensive players in the A Gaps unblocked by the offensive line, allowing the shield to pick them up as they come into the backfield. In doing this, the linemen simply get a quick jab on players to the outside to slow them down momentarily, and then head downfield in coverage. The free rushers up the middle are picked up by the shield, which holds its blocks much longer.
Unfortunately for the Florida State punter, the shield neglects to block:
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