n behalf of David Bennett and theentire defensive staff at CatawbaCollege, Richard Kent (DC), Jim Tomsula(DL) and Ryan Haglan (OLB), it is an honorto contribute some of our ideas to the 2001
. I was asked to write on asubject that plays one-third of a role of avery good defense. Since the staff’s arrivalin 1995, we have been able to develop aprogram that competed in a tough SouthAtlantic Conference. The progress fromyear-to-year in every area of our programhas made the staff’s time here very enjoy-able. We were able to watch an averagedefensive unit in 1995 mature into one thathas ranked among the best in every cate-gory nationally over the past five seasons.Our success can be attributed to our play-ers’hard work and dedication. Within ourconference, our defense was the No. 1ranked rush defense (1996-2000), totaldefense (1997-2000) and scoring defense(1997-2000). Nationally, we ranked in theTop 10 in the same categories during thesame years. In 1999, we led Division II inrush defense (53 yards per game) and2000 scoring defense (8.3 points pergame). Those were just a few defensiveaccomplishments that our players haveworked so very hard to reach in order tocontinue the tradition of Catawba defense.
Linebacker Play at Catawba CollegePhilosophy:
Our philosophy of line-backer play is very simple. Linebackers arethe leaders of the defense. They areresponsible for all calls made for alignment,strength of formation and adjustments toformations. I feel that this role is perfect fora linebacker. Linebackers are the only play-ers on the defense to gain control of thehuddle and speak to them every play of thegame. With this control, they are forced intoa leadership role. It is up to them to makethe best of it.
We can’t stress how importantit is for a linebacker to be a leader in everyaspect of his life. He must be a leader oncampus, in the classroom, weight training,conditioning and on the field. They are allimportant for the development of a leader.
The stance is the most impor-tant part of linebacker play.Aplayer mustbe put in a stance he can be most suc-cessful in. Here is what I teach my guysabout their stance:•Feet parallel.•Shoulder width apart.•Bend at knees, hips and ankles.•Chest out with back flat.•Weight on the balls of your feet.•YOU MUSTBE COMFORTABLE.Being in a comfortable position from thestart will enable the linebacker to berelaxed in his stance. He will not have anywasted movements getting to the ball. Aplayer in a stance that he isn’t comfortablein will first relax and then react to the play.Our linebacker will start every drill in agood stance. Even if we are just runningthrough bags in pre-practice. This willdevelop a feel for a comfortable stance.
In our scheme of defense,our linebackers have to understand the tri-angle (Diagram 1). The triangle will givethem all they will need in diagnosing theplay.The first key will be the initial key.Theinitial key is a runningback for direction.The only movement that I am looking forfrom this key is his read step. The read stepis a six-inch jab step. The read step willgive them movement but will not get themout of position. His next phase in the trian-gle will be finding his under key.The underkey is used to identify the intent of theblock. Finding the uncovered linemen willbe the best under key.This key will showyou one of four blocks that you can use toidentify the play.The blocks that you maysee will be base, cut off, down block andpass block. Identifying the block will giveyou an indication on what play you maysee. It will also help your linebacker knowhis fit in the defensive scheme.
: The linebacker will haveto force the line of scrimmage with his out-side pad free. Having his leverage pointlower than the opponent does. He needs
• — •Curtis WalkerLinebackers CoachCatawba CollegeSalisbury, N.C.
LBC:Leaders By Choice
Diagram 1: TriangleDiagram 2A:Base Block