And no I dont' mean "delirium tremens"(although there is a connection). I said in an earlier post that the TE was my favorite position on offense; well the DT is my fave on D. It is said in warfare amateurs talk tactics, pros talk logistics. In somewhat the same fashion the cognoscenti of football(I include the OBNUG readership) discuss the lines when analyzing teams. It may be trite to talk about the battle in the trenches but it is nonetheless true that is where the war is won.
Coach Pete is on record as saying offenses grab headllines but defenses win championships. Extending that further, the D-line sets the stage for all the defense will do and its nucleus is the interior linemen. Often their efforts are near invisible to the inexperienced eye; it is ironic that the defensive tackle can be effective without ever tackling anyone.
A sports psychologist once opined that the defensive football player hates structure. Nowhere is this truer than with the DT. Just as the political radical attacks the fundamental elements of society, so the DT seeks to destroy the foundation of the offense. The center and 2 guards are his focus, and if he succeeds the entire offense must be redesigned, and quickly, else all is lost.
Recall an earlier post wherein I described the "pro" set;2 RB's, TE, 2 WO's. The pro set is still a run first formation, and the evolution of the DT can be traced through the evolution of the pro set to the current offensive schemes.The counterpart to the pro set was the 4-3 defense(with a brief departure in the 70's to the 3-4). In the day the DT was generally a grizzly bear, rock of Gibraltar hybrid. So much of the action was between the tackles there wasn't much else he need/could be. That player is still here-Baker embodies it perfectly.Baker is also quick and ,within his own formidable parameters, fast(so are bears-30 mph for you backpackers).
The rule changes that led to more open offenses also inspired a defense requiring a more athletic DT-still powerful, but emphasizing more tiger-like explosiveness, adding a dash of cunning.Winn of course is clearly this-one need look no further than the penultimate(!) play of Fiesta II. Most remember the jiveacious penalty on Gavins; however, that same play had Winn enveloping Dalton like a starfish on a smooth stone. The entire Fiesta II game showed what a fully developed, healthy Bronco interior line could do to a very effective offense. Recall Poinsettia we were down, not just at DE but we werent that deep at DT either(moving Winn to DE underscored the problem all along the line).
I've described 2 of the DT types as bear and tiger. The third, the leopard, was the type we used to get by default.Bears and tigers are rare, and rarer still for our program in the day.Leopards have to be very cunning, quick, exploitative. Serendipitously, responding to the new offenses put more of a premium on that skill set and dovetailed nicely with our recruiting prowess. But as Lenin said "immense quantity has a quality of its own", or ,"size matters", and the fact that we have ample bears and tigers makes our leopards more effective. Koontz is an example; I think Grimes will fit in too. Paradis' development will land him in the "liger" category.
And looking to the future, I think we've crossed the final bridge as far as getting athletes goes. DTs not only have to be big, strong, and durable, they also need to be crazy enough to play the position yet still stay enrolled. They go up against the largest athletes in the world(ok maybe sumo wrestlers are bigger, but ever see a match?-not so athletic). Our current depth here shows that we are on the same stage as the rest of the elites.