Defensive Line Tips: Defensive Tackle Reads

As the first line of defense, you need to be able to read the opponent’s offensive blocking schemes and throw them off track.

The defensive tackle has multiple assignments and alignments from play to play. To be successful, you must be able to read the offensive lineman in front of you, determine what type of block they are using and escape those blocks to find the ball carrier.

The first read and blocking scheme to commit to memory is the double team. As you come out of your stance, you need to engage the blocker in front of you.  You’ll feel the pressure from where the double team is coming. Fight it. Your goal is to rip through and split the two players down the middle to get to the ball carrier.

The second read is how to deal with the trap block. In this blocking scheme, you will see the offensive lineman release down inside of you. As they release down inside, get your hands on that lineman and squeeze to keep them from getting to the second line to block a linebacker.  Release the lineman and look for the backside guard to pull.  Put your outside shoulder into that backside guard, putting your body into the hole so that the running back can’t gain any yards.

On the pull block, when you see the offensive lineman pull away from you, it should be obvious that there will be another blocker coming back to you. Read where the play is going and work hard to get across the face of that blocker and into the hole where the running back will be headed.

Knowing what to look for as a defensive tackle is one of the biggest keys to making a play. The quicker you can read the offense’s blocking scheme, the sooner you can get in there and shake things up.