D Line Study: Case 2 – 3 Technique

Oct 23, 2014 | Front, Even Front Structures, Defense

By Mickey Mays
X&O Labs

The 3-technique's B gap alignment puts him in position to make more plays than any other defensive lineman. The absence of bootleg and reverse responsibilities allows him to play faster than a defensive end versus the run, and his outside alignment over the guard often puts him in one-on-one pass rush situations. One of the biggest challenges a 3-technique faces is the number of blocks and schemes he must learn to recognize and defeat. Ronnie Eaves, defensive coordinator at North Hall High School (Gainesville, GA) agrees. "Without a doubt, he has to be football smart," said Eaves. "And a first year player cannot play the 3-teachnique. There are just too many things going on around him."

Our intent with this report is to show you all the run-block possibilities a 3-technique will see during the course of the game, and more importantly how to defeat them.

If you're wondering how vital a solid 3-technnique is to defending the run game, consider the following statistics we pulled from a recent survey: 64.7 percent of coaches surveyed put their strongest and most athletic defensive lineman at the 3-technique position.

In order to develop the pro-typical 3-technique, 74.8 percent feel the ideal size for the position is between 6 feet to 6'2 and weigh between 201-225 pounds. That kind of size is needed to defend the strong side blocking combinations in the run game such as double team blocks and drive blocks. These blocking scenarios are the ones we will discuss in the report.

For starters, a 3-technique's B gap alignment puts him in position to make more plays than any other defensive lineman. When compiling the notes for this report, we assumed that a common discussion among coaches would be whether to align him in the B-gap and jet him up the field on the snap or to align him in a true outside shade with emphasis on keeping the offensive guard off the linebackers. Although, only 11% of coaches teach B gap penetration pre-snap, we found it does have merit when protecting against reach schemes, which was one of the more common concerns among those surveyed.

According to Omaha Nighthawks (UFL) coach Pete Kuharchek, the main factor in this decision is the ability of the individual player. "If I had a really athletic and talented 3-technique I would align his inside foot on the outside foot of the guard and just tell him to penetrate the B-gap," said Kuharchek. "His athletic ability will keep him from getting reached by the guard or cut off by the offensive tackle, and he can be a disruptive force in the backfield and a playmaker. His wider alignment and gap charge give him a better chance to destroy the angles vs. a double team. The lesser the athlete, the heavier he has to play on the guard – a better alignment to protect linebackers."

For the purpose of this report, we will address the following nine blocking schemes a 3-technique will encounter in the run game. Each will be explained in detail:

Primary Blocks and Schemes:

  1. Reach Block: Guard gets hat to outside shoulder (single block)
  2. Fan or Turnout: Guard attempting to widen 3-technique outside and down the L.O.S.
  3. Double-Team: Drive block by guard + down block by offensive tackle
  4. Power Scoop: Drive block by guard + cutoff block by offensive tackle
  5. Loose Scoop: 45 and up by guard + cutoff block by offensive tackle
  6. O-Scheme: Inside pull by guard + back block by center
  7. G-Scheme: Outside pull by guard + down block by offensive tackle
  8. T-Fold: Turnout by guard + inside pull by offensive tackle
  9. Veer Release: Tight inside release by guard + release by offensive tackle

According to our research, the chance of a player becoming overwhelmed by the sheer number of possibilities must be a factor in personnel decisions. A fundamental goal should be teaching him how to defeat all blocks and schemes while taking the thought process out of the equation. The only way to get this done is turning recognition into reflex through key drill repetition.

Eaves does this by continually drilling what he calls his "Read Progression Drills" so that a 3-technique doesn't have to think, just react to what he sees. These drills should be done daily.