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Georgia Tech Football: Why 2016 will be Different - How a NT Could Transform the Defense

Let’s take a look at how the addition of a true NT could help Ted Roof’s unit in 2016.

Brandon Adams

This week we’ll be taking a look at some of the things that will distinguish the 2016 season from last year’s disaster. To start things off, we’ll take a look at how the arrival of Brandon Adams could shape the defense. Adams isn’t guaranteed to play this year, so this particular entry is more of a “could” than a “will” be different. From coach Johnson’s comments, however, it seems like Adams has a pretty good shot at playing this year.

What’s a Nose Tackle? What does 1-Technique Mean?

“Nose Tackle” is a generic term that generally refers to the defensive tackle who lines up closest to the center. “Technique” refers to where a certain defensive player lines up in relation to the offense. Here’s a visualization:

The 1-Technique is generally used by the Nose in a 4-3 defense such as Ted Roof’s. The 0 Technique is generally used by 3-4 defenses that employ 2-gap schemes such as Al Groh’s. A 4-3 1-Technique will often shift between the 1-Technique and a 2i-Technique, but is still referred to as a 1-Technique or Nose Tackle.

The 1-Technique’s primary job in this defense it to absorb double teams and anchor the point of attack without being moved off his spot. Throughout this article, I’ll be using gifs from the NFL to demonstrate concepts. Here’s Terrance Knighton, absorbing the double team and hold the point of attack, while making the tackle for good measure.

Notice, how Knighton was able to keep the Mike LB “clean” by demanding the attention of both the Center and Guard. By doing so, he helps the LB to easily get in on the play, even though the backer initially read the wrong hole.

Here’s another example from Carolina’s Star Lotuleilei (You may remember him from the 2011 Sun Bowl):

So how does this differ from a 0-Tech? NTs in the 3-4 defense are generally responsible for both A-gaps, while the 1-Technique is only responsible for 1. When a defender only has only 1 gap assignment instead of 2, he can afford to be a little bit more aggressive, as can be seen from Star Lotuleilei in the 2015 playoffs here:

In the pass game, the nose is responsible for “pushing the pocket” in order to collapse protection back into the QB’s face. By doing so, the defense can close up the passing lanes and possible lanes of escape. Since QBs hate interior pressure far more than edge pressure, the line will devote more attention to those with shortest path to the passer. By demanding multiple protectors, the NT can give 1-on-1 or clean looks to the 3-Tech, the DEs, and any blitzers.

So What Does All This Mean for The Jackets?

There are plenty of holes to discuss in the Georgia Tech defense, but we’ll focus on lackluster run defense, poor pass rush, and trouble with running QBs.

The improvements a NT could bring to the run game are pretty straightforward, and we’ve discussed how Adams could contribute to the pass rush by opening up opportunities for others. But it’s the other situation that’s a bit more interesting. The last few years, running QBs like Marquise Williams, Logan Thomas, and Deshaun Watson have been a big issue for Tech. A NT could help fix this hole in a number of ways.

In the run game, a running QB gives the offense an advantage by making the game truly 11 on 11. He has 10 blockers and, in theory, only 1 clean defensive player who can get him. By bringing in a player who can eat multiple blocks without getting moved from the hole, the Tech defense could whittle down on this advantage. In the pass game, the DEs will be able to more aggressively get after the passer, as a true NT could help ensure pocket integrity and close multiple escape lanes up the middle. By allowing the DEs to keep pressure and helping the LBs to keep the QB from scrambling, the NT makes a huge difference.

Allowing Adams to play this year could be a huge boost for the Tech defense. He won’t reach his full potential as a freshman, but the advantages to finally have a player on the team that fits at 1-Tech could be staggering.