March 27, 2017
Welcome, everybody, to the Carriker Chronicles! I’m back to wearing my old school Nebraska gear throughout the duration of spring ball. It’s a little windy outside, and today along with my fierce offensive line returning: Trinity, Addison, and Jacob Carriker, I’m going to go in depth with some fundamental techniques for playing defensive line in a 3-4 scheme. I want to start right off the top with the four fundamental techniques, and I wrote down some blocks here that I’m going to go through and tell you how to play them.
The four fundamental techniques right off the top: Relentlessness -- an attitude, not something that can be coached; Feet, Hat/ Pad level, and Hand placement. I’m going to start with feet, because that’s the first thing to move when the ball is snapped. Jacob is my tackle here. I talked in my January 16th video about the differences between a 3-4 defense and a 4-3 defense. I’m going to go more in depth today, however, not going to talk about stepping forward vs. lateral again, because I already did that. Check out that video if you haven’t seen it! In a 3-4 defense, you step laterally. You’re not attacking, you’re reading and reacting. The offensive lineman has to move first. If Jacob steps to his left, my right, and I was trying to attack, I might get out of my gap and have to fight the guard in order to not be two gaps out of place. So I wait for him to make the first move, read him, and match him. Footwork is where everything starts. If you guess wrong and start off behind the 8 ball, you’re gonna end up behind the whole pool table.
Next, is your hat/pad level. Low man wins, right? That’s why I love wrestling (WWE, hahaha right? My old man is gonna hate that joke). But wrestling teaches you to get low. So, if Jacob fires out and hits me as a 300-350 pound offensive tackle (the Iowa/ Wisconsin type guys) and I’m standing up, he’s gonna drive me backwards. He’s gonna drive me to kingdom come, as my old coach used to say. If I’m lower and a 300 pound lineman hits me, even though I’m 260, I have the advantage. Low man wins. That’s especially true in wrestling, and that’s why wrestling helps so much with football. It’s all about your pad level.
Now, the last thing that I think is overlooked a lot in coaching, is your hand placement. If I bench 500 pounds, that’s phenominal. That’s gonna help me play football better. The problem is, if the tackle’s hands are inside mine, he’s gonna drive me to Fresno, as my other d line coach used to say. It’s one of those things, where if I bench 500 and he benches 300 but his hands are inside, it’s now like I bench 300 and he benches 500. The other thing about hand placement, is that it is the one thing you can recover from. If I step the wrong way, it’s hard to fight back across to my gap. If I’m up high, I can get low again, but I’ll be 10 yards back by the time I do. I can recover from bad had placement right away. Replacement is constant throughout a battle. If two guys are doing it right, it almost looks like a bad chicken fight. We can continually get our hands inside one another’s. This is why I like close grip bench press. Anyone who works out with me sees me do it. Great triceps exercise. But it’s also a great football exercise. When someone finally wins the had placement battle, they have a steering wheel to the other person. If the tackle is trying to reach block me and knock me inside, I have that steering wheel where I can throw myself into my gap. Those are the four basic fundamental techniques.
I want to talk about a few blocks. I just talked about the reach block. This is where the tackle tries to overtake me and control the C gap so the running back has a lane. In a 3-4 scheme, you’re responsible for two gaps. You know which one is yours by whichever is harder to get to. If the tackle is trying to cut me off and prevent me from getting to the B gap, I have the B gap, and vise versa. D linemen always have the hardest job because we’re closer to the ball. If he’s trying to cut me off from the B gap and I don’t get in there, I get a minus (-). Now, it’s the linebacker’s job to cover my… rear end. The linebacker is playing off of me. If I’m in the B gap, it’s easy, he’s got the C gap. If I don’t win and I end up in the C gap, he would now get a minus if he doesn’t get in the B gap. That’s how we all play off of each other, and that’s the “two gap.” If a tight end is helping with a double team, I have to fight through and get into the C gap. If my fierce guard and tackle are trying to double team me, I have the B gap because that’s now the harder gap. The linebacker then plays off of that.
We’ve talked about the double team, the cutoff, and the reach blocks. Let’s talk about the pulling guard. Let’s talk about the nose guard for a second. The nose guard has this humungous center he’s going against, and the guard pulls. If I’m in the B gap, the nose knows that I’m going to be there, and he has to pop to the other side of the Center. Otherwise, you have two guys in the same gap. Now, they’ve created an extra running lane by pulling this guard, and that’s how you get big runs. The tackle is taught that if he sees color flash across his face, to fight across no matter what. You’re only going to get two blocks if the guard pulls; a base block by the center, or a double team by the center and other guard, and you have to fight across that. They can do various things, with play action, pulling the center, etc. But this is just the fundamentals. It works the same with the defensive end. When I see the guard leave, I have to slide over to fill that gap, and the linebacker has to fill the gap I left. Otherwise, again, we have two guys in the same gap and create an extra running lane. That’s how it works on defense. They create an extra lane by pulling a guy, and we pop over and take it away.
So that covers the fundamentals, responsibilities for d linemen and linebackers, and gap assignments. I could go more in depth about rushing the quarterback in another show, but I’ll do a quick overview here. Real brief. If we have a “rip” call, meaning strong right (from the defensive perspective) and the linebacker is blitzing, the d end has a one on one with the guard, the nose tackle has the gap between the center and the other guard, and the other d end has contain on his side. Same holds true for a strong left scenario, just flip it. You have to run through the man to contain, as opposed to running around him. That’s how gaps are created. If you go through the guy and push him back, condensing the pocket, the quarterback has nowhere to go, and that’s how you get your sack.
Alright, everybody, be sure to check out my interview with Larry The Cable Guy from last week. He had me rolling throughout the show. Part one was on Monday, and part two was on Wednesday. He’s very outspoken and passionate about the Huskers. Until Wednesday of this week, GO BIG RED, and always remember… to THROW THE BONES!!!
P.S. For those of you who don’t typically watch the show but read the transcript, just know that the Carriker boys put on a very abbreviated clinic on firing off the ball, the utilization of the swim (punch) technique, the breaking of the quarterback’s ribs, and subsequent primal scream accompanied by the ceremonious Throwing of the Bones. You may get a glimpse of a future Blackshirt…