By Max Fransen
Defensive Coordinator and Inside Linebackers Coach
Herscher High School (IL)
Last year, like many high schools and colleges across the country, our program implemented the mint front into our defense as a result of the growing popularity of the spread offense. As a first-year defensive coordinator, I was transitioning our team from a 4-man front to a 3-man front. I like the Mint front because it only requires 3 defensive linemen. As I coach at a small 3A school in rural Illinois, numbers, and size can be limited from year to year. Other benefits of the mint front include the closed B-gaps, as well as the easy linebacker keys.
Starting in the center of our defense, the nose tackle lines up in a 0 (head up the center) and plays the “lag” technique. Too often, interior defensive linemen can get washed down the line trying to cross face a lineman while attempting to maintain a gap. The lag technique takes advantage of the center by allowing the nose to control the A-gap away from where the center steps.
If we are playing a gap-based scheme, the nose’s hand on the side of the running back should be down. This allows the nose to get hands-on the center and prevent him from blocking back on one of the 4i's. However, if we are playing a zone-based scheme, the nose’s hand opposite the running back should be down. This allows the nose to get hands-on the center and prevent him from having a free release to the linebackers. As the nose explodes out of his stance, he will naturally fit into the A-gap away from where the center steps. While doing so, the nose should lock out and force the center’s body in the opposite A-gap, thus 2-gapping the A-gaps.