By Dan Guttenplan
Herb Hand, a veteran offensive line coach who has helped coordinate numerous dynamic offenses, spent his first season as co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Texas in 2018.
I know your background is as an offensive line coach. What are you planning to speak about at the USA Football National Conference?
“The topic I’m going to cover is titled, ‘Taking your drills to the game.’”
Are the drills for offensive linemen or other positions on offense?
“We’ll focus on drills particularly geared toward drop-back pass protection. I want our drills to show up when we watch game film. We will have some cut-up and film breakdowns. We have coaching points for the drills, what we’re trying to accomplish with each drill, and how those drills are then transferred into game action. The players need to know what you’re looking for and your philosophy behind each drill.”
What is the key to leading a drill that carries over into a game?
“My thing with drills is that if you can’t explain to a player why or how it fits into game scenarios, you shouldn’t be doing the drill. That’s going to be the focus of the talk.”
I saw a video of Nick Saban meeting with his assistant coaches after a practice, and he explained that all drills should be introduced in meetings, then practiced at walk-through speed, and then practiced close to game speed. Do you share that philosophy?
“It’s a similar approach. Before we ever incorporate a drill into the practice plan, we present it in detail to players in a unit meeting session. We say, ‘This is what we’re trying to accomplish. Our philosophy is we explain how to run the drill and then why. Then, once we’re on the field, and we have a limited time to work, we can maximize the time for reps. If I have a 10-minute practice period, and I have to take three minutes to explain the drill, that’s wasted time. All of the explanation has to happen before we ever hit the field. If we have an opportunity to walk through it, we can give them an example of what it should look like.”
So, another key to a successful drill is maximizing reps for each player?
“Repetition is the mother of all learning. When you’re on the field, it’s reps, and then follow it up. Watch it on film. Then, correct from the film. As a coach, you say, ‘Here’s what we still need to work on.’ That’s the whole key to it. If you’re teaching technique or fundamentals, show them how it’s applicable in the games.”
College coaches often say the biggest learning curve for offensive linemen is in pass protection. Why is that?
“First of all, there are many great high school coaches that do an excellent job teaching pass protection. I’ve stolen drills and coaching points from high school coaches I’ve watched. All coaches borrow and plagiarize. We pick up what we can, whether it’s high school, college or the NFL. I’m always looking for coaching points.
“With pass protection, there’s a lot that has to do with each individual. You can’t coach it in cookie-cutter fashion. You have to take into consideration a particular player’s strengths and deficiencies. Then, he has to overcome those deficiencies. It takes time; it’s a development position. Guys that play at the highest level are continuing to develop their craft.”
Hand’s Chalk Talk
Saturday, Feb. 23
3:45 to 4:30 p.m.
Check out Texas co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand speaking about, “Taking drills to the game.” Hand has been an offensive line coach at Texas, Auburn, Penn State, Vanderbilt, Tulsa and West Virginia.