Replacing Dalton Keene’s Dirty Work

Dalton Keene
Dalton Keene has been an important blocker for the Hokies throughout his career. (Jon Fleming)

Though fans will remember him most for his big catches, Keene was a smart and tenacious blocker for the Hokies. Perhaps the bit of blocking he inflicted on Trevon Hill will stand up there with the catches, though on the whole his blocking didn’t get much attention. He was capable in pass protection, though it wasn’t a frequent demand of him, so we’ll focus on his run-blocking. 

Here he is blocking the Hokies’ Isolation play:

The Iso is an old school play where the o-line intentionally leaves a linebacker unblocked (or “isolated”) so a fullback or H-back can power through and crack skulls. Keene looks to get out-hit here, though the block is still successful. It’s a great example of technique beating impact.

Keene dips and drives just before contact instead of getting caught high. If he doesn’t get low, there’s a chance he’s forced back into the runner. He gets his helmet between the linebacker and the runner, which hinders tackling—you can see how the linebacker has a little more to fight through to shuck the block. Finally, he gets a safe hold in with his right hand. He grabs the linebacker’s outside sleeve while keeping his arm tight, before quickly releasing. The jersey doesn’t get stretched or twisted in an obvious way, and the arm doesn’t wrap around the defender.