Here is the quick and dirty on this article. T.J. Barnes is going to play a 2 Gap nose guard/tackle and the ends are going to play a 1 Gap scheme. Inside backers and outside backers will play accordingly, but I will get to that if I have time. Who reads this stuff anyway when it is stuck over here on the side?
Do I have inside knowledge of next year's defensive scheme? No. Did I see something that tipped me off during the Spring game? No. So what am I talking about?
First, I simply want your opinion about the defensive concept of Tech changing from a 2-Gap to a 1-Gap system but with the following caveat. I do not think Tech is going to change what it does with the nose position. Except for this. Though the nose will theoretically be responsible for any play that happens on either side of the offensive center (a 2-Gap approach) the marching orders have been drastically simplified. The job now is to make sure that no matter what else happens on the play, the center is punished. Plastered might be a better word for it. The nose will be asked to not think but hit, tackle but not anticipate the tackle. Just push. Hard. Make it hard for the center to do anything other than hike the ball. If you miss a runner or two during the course of the game, let the linebackers worry about it. The main job and in most cases the only job will be to keep the center from being able to do more than one thing each play.
My hunch is that the inside backers will be asked to cover as many as four gaps between them. But again I will get to that if I am not bored with this article by then. I get bored easily. So, if you are ready to discuss, go ahead and skip the rest of this.
When I was a child I had one of those electric football games with the vibrating fields, the ones that people now make fun of because they were so low tech. I loved my mine and have always thought that people who didn't love them did not know how to play with them.
Each football player came on a little pedestal, the bottom side of which contained four small, plastic, sprue-like hairs. The magic of physics would conduct the vibration of the field through these hairs, and, depending on which direction they were slanted or bent, the tiny football player would move in a desired direction. I suspect people who hated this game hated it based on the fact that there were a thousand ways for players to go wrong or run the wrong way.
I kept it simple. I made sure most of my players were lined up to run fast and straight by adjusting the bottom hairs accordingly. If I wanted them to slant or stunt I simply pointed the player that way on the line of scrimmage. My running backs and ends were the only ones whose "hairs" I adjusted for special plays. I was especially good at running sweeps and end around plays. My offenses usually scored on every drive.
What does this have to do with T.J. Barnes? Well, if you have read this far you clearly don't have anything better to do so here is why in my fevered brain I associate the two. In this old electric football game there were ways to get an advantage, or at least exercise some control over how a play transpired. On defense I would always play a nose tackle. What my opponents often did not know (unless they were good friends and I told them) was that I had glued a small metal nut underneath the platform of the player I used for nose tackle.
This effected his performance in the following way. He ran slightly slower. He always maintained forward momentum. As a matter of fact you could put three blockers on him and he would still slowly mover the pile.
This meant the center of my defensive line was always secure and I could stunt my linebackers any number of ways.
T.J., your job is to be the guy carrying the extra metal nuts in your platform. Just plow straight ahead. Do not slant or stunt to one side or the other. Just push the center straight back on every play. We will call it a 2-Gap position but it won't even be that complicated. Everyone else on the front seven will have to think about what they are doing whether they are playing a one gap or a two gap or some hybrid multiple gap technique.
I think Al Groh is up to something and I think it is going to work this year. He has intelligent, fast and big linebackers who can multi-task. All he needs over the center is somebody who will create a log jam or at least keep the center from getting to the second level. Barnes can do that. I am a believer that he is big enough for this simple job.