Miami coach Randy Shannon said on Wednesday that he that he doesn’t consider chop blocks to be illegal and that Tech doesn’t “high-low” defenders. The Yellow Jackets will host the Hurricanes on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
A chop block is an illegal block in which a defender is engaged by two players simultaneously, one hitting him above the waist and another below. The term is often confused with cut block, a legal tactic in which an offensive player tries to take a defender’s legs out by rolling on the ground in front of him or diving into his legs. That block is employed by Georgia Tech and numerous other schools. It is often done on the backside of plays to keep defenders from catching up to ball-carriers.
“Chop blocks to me are not illegal,” Shannon said on Wednesday. “It’s getting guys on the ground within the scheme. They do not high-low you. They just make sure they get you down on the backside. So sometimes you know when people hear the word ‘chop block,’ they’re thinking it’s something negative.”
During a meeting with the Miami-area media on Tuesday, Shannon was discussing Tech’s blocking schemes and said: “It’s a major concern because chop blocks are part of what they do. It’s always the backside of it, not the front side. We are going to work on it in practice. I don’t know if the officials will see it. They probably will not see it, but its part of what we have to work on. We have to work on it and tell our guys that we can’t depend on officiating to help us. If the guy gets you, you have to get up off the ground and keep running. The difficult part of it is that you can lose somebody due to it, and you don’t want that to happen.”
Tech coach Paul Johnson laughed when asked about the chop-block comment during the ACC teleconference on Wednesday, saying “I think that’s illegal. We’ve been called for one for this year, so we must not use them a lot. Some people don’t know the difference between a chop block and cut block.”
Johnson has said numerous times that it’s not a tactic that they teach, but they do sometimes occur because Tech’s linemen are often trying to get off the line to block linebackers and safeties. As they come out of their stance, a defensive lineman will engage them as another offensive player is trying to execute their assigned block on that defender, resulting in an inadvertent chop block.
The issue reached a crest last season when Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer sent tapes of what he thought were illegal blocks made by the Yellow Jackets in their game in Atlanta. Johnson called the allegations a joke. During the offseason, the ACC placed an extra emphasis with its referees on watching for chop blocks and crack-back blocks.