By Nathan Linsey
Defensive Backs/Special Teams Coordinator
Emporia State University (KS)
Here at Emporia State University since 2012, we have traditionally finished in the middle of the pack as far as our defensive numbers and statistics. If you look at the numbers over the years, the takeaways were there and the tackles weren’t. Following the 2014 season, when we finished 4-7, I went back through each play from that season and tried to figure out why we weren’t successful. After reviewing the film, the biggest concern was our inability to complete our tackles. Far too often, 3-4 yard check downs/runs were turning into 8-10 yard gains and 10 yard completions were turning into “explosive plays.”
That off-season going into spring ball we decided to focus on tackling in more detail to put our players in a better chance to be successful. Going into spring ball, we decided to break into five groups instead of three we typically did to focus and get into more attention to detail with how we were practicing our tackling. This also allowed us to have smaller groups at each station to allow for more reps. Each coach was responsible for teaching a phase of the “Hornet Tackle” and allow the players to carry out the drill. The five different drills involved with the Hornet tackle was our Leverage/Tempo Drill; Outside-In Hornet Tackle; Inside–Out Hornet Tackle; Roll Tackle; and, Profile Tackle.
This drill really stressed the importance of your inside-out tempo of the ball carrier. We set up a cone every 5 yards for 20 yards and split up into 2 lines; one line being the ball carrier, the other being the tackler. The tackles starts about 2 yards behind the ball carrier about 10 – 15 yards away. On the whistle, the ball carrier will take off at a moderate pace (60-70%), slowing down and chopping their feet at each cone as if he were to cut back on the tackler. The tackler would pursue always keeping good inside out leverage with eyes on the ball carriers hip, “taking the air out of it.” Once the ball carrier would slow down at the cone, the tackler would square up his feet into the “near foot, near foot” technique to keep good leverage. The tackler should never overtake the ball carrier. Once the tackler reaches the ball carrier, he should tag off on the hip and the next group will continue.
To study film of this drill, click on the video below: