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Implementing the 3-4 Defensive line

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Before getting into who fits where first it might be nice to take stock of the players marked as defensive linemen in the UB Spring Prospectus. It should be noted that nowhere in the prospectus does the word 'Node Tackle' appear, but the word tackle does appear.
"Junior Richie Smith (Pen Argyl, PA/Pen Argyl) looks poised to earn a starting tackle spot. Smith appeared in all 12 games and has 24 games of experience under his belt." -- UB Football Prospectus
Until the team kickoffs this fall we really won't know how they are going to line up but according to most reports (McKissic at the first spring practice practice, the article form a College Station news paper about Colby Way, and others) it appears UB will be using someone in the role of nose tackle even if they don't go by that name.

Player Height Weight Year 09 Games Notes
Steven Means 6-3 232 Sophomore 12
Richie Smith 6-2 291 Junior 12
Anel Montanez 5-11 282 Senior 12
Gordon DuBois 6-1 248 Junior 12
Kenny Scott 6-0 309 Senior 9
Jerry Housey 6-0 247 Senior 7 2009 - LB
Willie Moseley 6-4 214 Sophomore 6
Solomon Richberg 6-4 290 Junior 6
Derrick Brown 6-2 266 Junior 0
Jaleel Verser 6-6 233 Sophomore 0
Matt Hornbuckl 6-1 260 Freshman RS
Jibrille Fewell 6-1 280 Freshman RS
Albert Sparks 6-3 320 Freshman RS

Most 3-4 defenses require the nose tackle to be a dominating force on the line, anyone who can not constantly occupy 2 or even 3 blockers will leave the ends, and any rushing linebackers in an impossible situation. In addition to size and strength nose tackles need to have a unique ability to take abuse.

"You see your life pass before your eyes about four times a game. The center hits you in the stomach, one guard gets you in the ribs, then the fullback drills you in the chest just as one of your own linebackers smacks you in the back. If you're mad at your kid, you can either raise him to be a nose tackle or send him out to play on the freeway. It's all about the same." -- Fred Smerlas, Nose Tackle Buffalo Bills
If you want to see what happens if the nose tackle is not up to the task just look at the 1992 Super Bowl. Buffalo outplayed the giants in all but once facet of the game. Then Bills nose tackle Jeff Wright was too small to play the position and the result was a Giants running game that made the high powered Buffalo offense completely irrelevant.
"The nose tackle and the inside linebackers, those are three guys that are very important. But when you go through it, the nose tackle is probably the single-most important guy." —Joe Collier, Denver Broncos assistant (1969-1988)
In gap attack 3-4 defenses the nose tackle typically lines up in the zero position and is assigned the task of attacking the gaps on either side of the center. He still has the same zone of responsibility but rather than focusing on occupying bodies he is responsible for occupying space.



For my money there are four likely UB linemen who will get tasked with the job of "Playing on the highway". Those four linemen are the ones who possess the one thing you cant teach, size. An NFL nose tackle should be, minimally, 320 pounds at the collegiate level a player can get away with 300 plus if they are athletic enough.

Albert Sparks, 6-3, 320; A two-year letter winner for head coach Brian Basil at Irving MacArthur High School. During his senior season he had 60 tackles and four sacks.

Kenny Scott, 6-0, 309; Scott saw light action in nine games last season, he managed one tackle.

Richie Smith, 6-2, 291; Played in all twelve games last season managing nine tackles, a sack and an interception. Mentioned in the prospectus as a possible starter.

Solomon Richberg, 6-4, 290; played the final five games of the season.