I sat down to do my usual Sunday-night film dig and didn’t have to dig far to find the play I wanted to go through on Monday. I started with Chris Evans’ vault because a human wearing full pads shouldn’t be able to jump over another pad-wearing, presumably angry human whose only object is to fling their mass into said person. I didn’t even get to the vault itself before something at the top of the screen caught my eye: the numbers printed on the back of a Maryland defensive lineman’s jersey. Like leaping a person, that, too, is a sight to behold on the football field. To gain additional insight, I asked Patrick Kugler about the technique behind how he and Ben Bredeson spun that guy.
Let’s start broad: were the defensive linemen tipping anything during the game?
“No. The formation that we were in, we knew kind of what they were going to be in and we knew that inside zone scheme was going to be pretty good because it’s a box-sensitive play which means you can only have [redacted] in the box usually for the play to work but by spreading them out with the three-receiver set we knew that one of the linebackers was going to go out and cover the slot, so it allowed us to get good double teams up to the backers and yeah, got to see Chris make the pretty sweet play.”
So I wanted to talk about the art of the double team. Take me through that. What’s most important? Is it speed off the ball or is it leverage or is it something else?
“I think the most important thing is getting hip to hip, definitely. With the 2i, because he’s playing on Ben [Bredeson], Ben’s got to get a good initial lift on him. Then I come in and get really tight with him, and if I bring a lot of power to that we’re going to get some good movement, so it’s all about that initial pop and getting hip to hip and being able to drive them off the ball.”
How’d you end up turning that 2i?
“Like I said, yeah, Ben got two really good steps down and was able to turn his shoulder a little bit which allowed me to get in there and kind of get squared up on him, allowing Ben to work up to the backer.”
To go back to double teams for a second, does it depend at all on chemistry and time on task with the guy next to you, or is that something where if you’re both sound technically you can kind of plug and play?
“It definitely helps when you have a lot of practice at it. Coach Drevno does a great job. We work at double teams countless hours during the week. Yeah, but it definitely becomes an art form. I think me and Ben got a pretty good feel for most of our double teams because we’ve been doing it all season. Me and Mike [Onwenu] as well and Cesar [Ruiz], just getting everyone in there. But it definitely takes a lot of work to get a really good double team.”