Making A Great Linebacker, Part 4: Coaching The Finish

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By Jacquis McCray Jr., Defensive Line Coach, Salisbury University

There are four words that come to mind when I think about great linebackers: eyes, feet, hands and finish. These four words should be emphasized every day in practice. Part four of this series focuses on the finish.

Training The Finish

The finish is so important because even if a linebacker is great using his eyes, feet and hands – but does not finish the play – the result could be a touchdown.

Regardless of whether you are on the practice field or on the game field, there needs to be some type of finish with every play and every drill. The finish may be tackling the ball carrier, running to the football until the whistle is blown, recovering a fumble, creating a turnover, or possibly having your linebackers sprint 5 yards through the cone after completing every drill.

Linebackers must be aware of how important it is to finish every play. I try to finish every drill either with a form tackle or fumble recovery.

Here at Salisbury, once we get done with our team stretch, we get together as a defensive unit and do some sort of pursuit drill. Defensively, we believe that good things happen when all 11 guys are sprinting to the ball.

It is very difficult for an offense to game plan against a defense that has 11 guys pursuing and hunting the football on every play. If your defensive players do not have the will and desire to pursue the football on every play, they may be on the wrong side of the ball.

In closing, I would like to once again thank everyone who has helped me get this far in the coaching profession. As a coach, there is always something to do and learn. Always look for ways to master your craft. Remember, you only get out what you put in! Best wishes to all of you this upcoming season.


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