Hold it: How Florida skirts the rules to block punts

(AP photo)

Update: Punt block legit, says Muschamp

Updated at 9:55 with Joker quote.

In 2008, in the very first quarter in Gainesville, Florida blocked back-to-back Kentucky punts and recovered each inside the UK 5-yard line. The Gators scored touchdowns on the first play after each block. The rout was on. In 2009, at Commonwealth, Florida’s Chris Rainey blocked a UK punt and recovered in the end zone for a TD in the Gators’ 41-7 win.

So does Florida use a bit of illegal trickery to blog block punts? Kentucky coach Joker Phillips seemed to imply as much today after practice when talking about the Gators’ ability to block punts. Phillips mentioned, not in an accusatory tone, that the Gator linemen will pull the offensive linemen one direction or the other to let a teammate shoot the gap and get to the punter.

Update — Here is the Phillips quote: “Speed. Speed, you know, at which they come off. And their speed are big guys. Their linebackers and defensive ends are on their punt team. We’ve got receivers and DBs on our punt team to try and get that speed on the field. They’ve got big guys pulling this guy that way, and this guy thata way and a little fast guy with world-class speed comes up the middle to block it. And you can’t get off the block. We’ve got to punch them in the mouth when they try to grab you and get their hands off of you and come off and block the little guy that tries to split the gap.”

And that’s exactly what Florida did last Saturday when Chris Rainey blocked a Tennessee punt early in the second quarter.

Here are the pictures.

Frame 1: Here Gary Danielson circles Rainey as he lines up behind the linemen as Tennessee is in punt formation.

Frame 2: After the snap, you can see (1) the Florida lineman using his arm to hook the Tennessee offensive lineman and pull him to Florida’s left. Meanwhile, the Florida lineman (2) to the right of Rainey takes an outside angle to help open the gap for Rainey.

Frame 3: As the Florida lineman pulls his man downfield (3), Rainey shoots the gap (4).

Frame 4: Rainey blocks the Tennessee punt.

Here is video of Phillips when asked why Florida is so good at blocking punts.

 

Here is Rainey blocking a Kentucky punt for a touchdown in 2009.

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