The Dent technique is violently ripping your outside shoulder through the inside pec of the trapper, redirecting your shoulders vertically, and trying to make the tackle on the ball carrier.
By Alex Smith
Spring Lake High School (MI)
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It is my firm belief that you will always get what you emphasize. At Spring Lake HS, our goal on defense is to keep things simple for our kids, present multiple looks to the offense, eliminate vertical seams in our defense, and force running plays to bounce to our perimeter players. For us to effectively execute this style of defense, we spend a lot of time working on what we call the “Dent” technique.
Before we begin talking about what a dent is and how we teach it, I’d like to define what a “Vertical Seam” is, and why they must be eliminated.
VERTICAL SEAM = A gap that is created when an edge player runs upfield and is kicked out by a puller/lead blocker.
The clip below is an example of what we define as a “vertical seam”. As you can see, the right defensive end runs upfield and is kicked out by the pulling guard. This is where the vertical seam in our defense is created. It is also important to note our play side ILB and rolled-up safety in this clip. Notice how they are working towards the sideline on their pursuit path, expecting the ball to be sent to the perimeter by the edge player. If the edge player would've executed a dent technique, there would be no vertical seam and a minimal gain.
A dent is very similar to the traditional “wrong-arm” or “spill” techniques that many people have used to great success. The reasons that we prefer a dent over a “wrong-arm” or “spill” are:
- The dent technique is more physical, aggressive, and violent.
- It gives our edge player a chance to make the tackle.
- By denting, it allows us to potentially occupy 2 pullers, instead of just 1 (change the math at the point of attack)
DENT = Violently ripping your outside shoulder through the inside pec of the trapper, redirecting your shoulders vertically, and trying to make the tackle on the ball carrier.
WRONG-ARM = Throwing your outside shoulder parallel to the line of scrimmage to secure the gap inside of a trapper.
This report will focus on how we teach, progress, and utilize the “dent” technique to defend gap scheme runs that are featured in many of today’s modern offenses.
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- Coaching points and film of the “Pup Technique Drill” used to teach edge defenders to close space and gain ground on visual keys.
- Coaching points and film of the “Snap Square Drill” used to teach edge defenders to gain back to the ball on kick out blocks.
- Coaching points and film of the “Standing Dent Drill” used to teach edge defenders to work vertically on kick out blocks.
- Coaching points and film of the “Dent and Pup Drill” used to teach edge defenders to run their feet through contact on kick out blocks.
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Again, when it comes to implementing techniques to match your scheme, you will get what you emphasize. This technique must be something that your edge players work on multiple times throughout the week. We truly believe that the dent technique will allow your players to be physical, eliminate vertical seams in the defense, and will clean up the perimeter fits for second and third-level players.
Meet Coach Alex Smith: Coach Smith recently completed his second year as a defensive coordinator at Spring Lake High School (MI). Before arriving at SLHS, the team was 0-9 and surrendered 40+ points per game in 2017. In his 2 years at Spring Lake, the defense has decreased their average points per game to 23 points/game, has made back to back playoff appearances, and recorded 3 straight shutouts for the first time since 2001. From 2015-2017, Coach Smith was the defensive coordinator at Shepherd HS (MI). In 2014, he was a defensive graduate assistant at Austin Peay State (FCS). Before his beginning his coaching career he played LB and DE at Central Michigan University from 2009-2013.