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Essentials in the Development of Defensive Tackles.

A 4A school with an enrollment of 651 students, the Cushing H.S. football squad is usually made up of about 50 players and has a defensive line that may average anywhere from 162 pounds, as it did last season and could go to perhaps 249 pounds this year.

That obviously requires a set of techniques that will be flexible enough to fit the different body types that we get from one year to the next.

Following are the nine essentials that we address in the development of outstanding defensive tackles and a great run defense.

1. Stance.

We teach the natural right-handed three-point stance. We understand that we are giving up some contact points by restricting ourselves to a right-handed stance, but we feel that the benefits derived from all the extra reps that it gives us in our contact drills more than compensates for the loss of contact points.

Our linemen don't have to think; they just get into their stance and play football.

In our basic three-point stance, the feet are set about armpit-width apart with the right foot staggered toe to instep with the left foot.

The right hand is grounded even with the nose straight down from the right eye, with the weight over the fingertips. The back is kept flat, with the neck bowed and the player looking through the top of his face mask.

2. Alignment.

We align according to the defense, using the gap and numbering system shown in Diag. 1. O, 2 and 4 techniques are head up, 3 and 5 are outside shade techniques, 1 and 4 are inside techniques, while A, B, C, and D are the gaps.

3. Movements (Take Off).

Move on the ball or the hand of the player on whom you are aligned. This movement is so important that we are willing to give up two offside penalties a game to ensure our quickness.

4. Attack (Charge).

Read on the run and react to the different kinds of blocks. One of our key coaching points is to never tell our defensive linemen to read, as this may tend to make them less aggressive. We tell them to feel the blocks as they move - which really gets them to read the blocks while they're attacking.

Head-up Technique (0.2, 4): Take an explosive straight six-inch step with the right foot and then bring the left foot parallel, while striking a neutralizing technique into the lineman as you feel (read) the head-up keys.

Inside Technique (1, 4i): Same as steps as above.

Outside Technique (shade 3.5): Same steps as above.

5. Neutralize (Strike a Blow):

In striking a blow, you must negate the blocker's charge - get your pads under his pads and keep them parallel to the LOS. We use the techniques shown in Diag. 2 to neutralize our opponent's hand shiver, shoulder blow, and forearm shiver. The technique used depends upon the blocking scheme we encounter.

Hand Shiver: Dive both hands forward, striking the blocker with the heels of the hands, while keeping the arms flexed, and follow through with your body weight.

Shoulder Blow: Strike through blocker with the shoulder and follow through with your body weight. Bring your legs up under the shoulder blow.

Forearm Shiver: Drive forearm forward, upward and outward as if you were driving an uppercut into your opponent's face, but with the back of your hand. The forearm should be partially extended away from your body. Use the other hand to throw the blocker.

6. Hold (Controlling).

All linemen must use a hold technique at the point of attack, employing one of two methods:

Hand Grab: Grasp blocker's jersey with both hands, holding the man away from your body and legs, and controlling him. Keep your legs spread in moving toward the ball-carrier (glide step).

Shoulder: Control the blocker with your shoulder at the point of contact while closing the gap and forcing the back to reroute.

7. Escape.

Locate the ball-carrier. If the defensive lineman does a good job of "holding" at the point of attack and does not run around the blocker(s), he will have no problem locating the ball-carrier.

We use one of two methods depending on the relationship of the ball to the blocker [ILLUSTRATION FOR DIAGRAM 3 OMITTED]:

Glide Step [ILLUSTRATION FOR DIAGRAM 3 OMITTED]: When the ball is on the front side of the blocker, we teach our DT to step laterally with the inside foot when moving inside, or with the outside foot when moving outside. After moving the proper foot the DT must bring the opposite foot parallel to the lead foot, keeping them spread apart for a solid base. Use quick gliding steps while controlling the blocker and moving to the ball-carrier.

Cross-Face [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 4 OMITTED]: When the ball is on the backside of the blocker, we want our DT to pull the blocker's jersey down with the hand closer to the ball while ripping across the blocker's chest and face with the opposite arm, trying to put his bicep into the blocker's far armpit.

While ripping across the blocker's face with his arm, the DT must try to step on the blocker's far foot with his own far foot. The ideal position is hip to hip. Coaching point: Teach the DT not to be in any great hurry to cross-face or he will open up the cutback lane.

8. Pursuit.

Good pursuit is essential on defense. After escaping a block, take the path that will enable you to make the play and prevent the cutback. Pursuit is 90% effort and 10% ability. Teach your players what full speed is.

9. Tackling.

The defensive linemen must feel responsible for either assisting on or making each and every tackle. We demand that they make at least 25 tackles a game. That kind of production will win 90 to 95% of those games.

By teaching and perfecting these nine essentials, you will improve your defensive tackles' production, and this will in turn, improve your overall run defense.

Note: All steps indicated in the diagrams are six inches or less.
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Article Details
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Author:Underwood, Robert W.
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 1999
Words:1020
Previous Article:Body Language.
Next Article:Gut Check Strength Program.
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