It’s been a slow season when it comes to the addition of new phrases to Harbaugh’s vernacular, but one thing he’s mentioned a few times this season that has stuck with me is one’s “football sensibilities.” This is very much a feel thing, and it’s the reason I picked this play. Wisconsin blocks this as well as they can; there’s a Mack-truck-sized lane for the back with one guy to shake. Each guy has an opportunity; someone will succeed, someone will fail. It’s binary. It’s brutal. It’s decisive. That appeals to my football sensibilities.
What were you expecting from them at that point?
“I had a read and I seen the fullback come to my side off a little short motion, and then I just read off the fullback and I tried to get down to the line of scrimmage as fast as I could. So as soon as I came down there and read the fullback’s block I tried to fit the hole as fast as I could and get my arms on the running back and tried to get him down as fast as I could, so that was pretty much my read on that play.”
It was 2nd-and-6 at that point, so pretty much everything’s available to them. Were they tipping anything as far as run or pass goes?
“Oh yeah. We seen how heavy their hands were on the ground with the linemen, and the D-line gives the linebackers the checks and the linebackers give us the check and we read that really well and I came down and executed the play really well.”
The receiver on the outside was running a drag. Did you see him and have to get underneath him first or was he not really an issue?
“On that play I did not. Josh Metellus was in the back helping the corner with that coverage.”
You were talking about the fullback earlier. Once he motions over, you basically know where the play’s going to go?
“Yeah, yeah. Watched film on them all week and saw that type of motion. They had more plays out of that type of motion, but I was very confident on that play. Got down there and trusted my gut feeling and made the play.”
That hole opened up perfectly for you to make the tackle, but were you expecting, based on what you’d watched on film, the back to bounce?
“I was expecting him to hit the hole harder, I thought, a little bit at me. I didn’t expect him to bounce it back inside, which he tried to do, and then I just tried to trace it back and get my arms on him, which I did. I did expect him to hit that hole. Like you said, it was wide open, and I tried to get down there as fast as I could to close it because, you know, once it’s not closed you know he has room and he’s a good back. He can make you miss, so I just tried to get down there as fast as I could.”
So when he decided to bounce he saw that you were in the hole and there was nowhere else to go and last minute he decided to cut?
“Yeah, I don’t know what he seen but yeah, I think that might have been the reason why. Me getting down there so fast, he wanted to cut it back. So, like I said, I just tried to get down there and just fill the hole as fast as I could.”
Technique-wise, what’s most important when you’ve got pretty much a free hit like that?
“You just want to bring your feet and shoulders to the tackle. When you make contact you want to keep your feet going, especially with a back like that. He’s big, and once he gets contact he’s going to keep his feet moving, so you want to get your body on his body and keep your feet moving and just wait for your guys to get there to finish it off.”