Friday, May 10, 2013

Torch: Lighting Up the Offense with a Read Twist

Twists can be used to great effect in disrupting an offense. Unfortunately, twists can also create gap control/pass rush lane issues for the defense. When a twist is called to the right place at the right time the result is defensive success. The challenge is getting the twist to the right place the highest percentage of the time. One solution is to have the defensive linemen read the twist to determine who will penetrate and who will loop. Torch is a read twist by the interior defensive linemen. TORCH stands for Tackles Read the Center. The DT's can be aligned in a heavy 3 and 2i, 2 head up 2's or in 2 inside shade 2i's to run the twist. Both DT's step initially inside and read the block of the center.

The rules are:
  • If the center blocks away from you - Penetrate
  • If the center blocks toward you - Loop
Here the center is blocking toward the Tackle and away from the Nose. The Nose reads the center blocking away and continues to penetrate to the opposite A gap. The Tackle has the center blocking toward him and will use his hands on the center then loop over the top of the penetrating Nose.
Here the Tackle reads the center away and penetrates. The Nose reads the center blocking toward and loops.

Torch is an effective pass rush stunt. 

When the center pass sets toward the Nose the Tackle becomes the penetrator. This is a 1 on 1 inside pass rush against the guard for the Tackle. The initial inside step by the Nose holds the center's attention and prevents help by the center on the penetrator. Our Tackles beat the guard's block in this situation a percentage of the time. The rest of the time the Tackle's penetration disrupts the QB's footwork. The QB has difficulty stepping up into the throw when the penetrator is on the midline. If the QB does not attempt to step up, the contain rushing DE's have a great opportunity to collapse the pocket. Often the QB's most viable option is to slide in the pocket away from the penetration.

 The QB feels open space to step into a throw or to use as an escape lane. As the QB slides into the open space the Nose loops into the same space and pressures the passer.
When the center pass sets to the Tackle typically the offense is in some form of slide protection. The Nose now has the 1 on 1 inside pass rush. The Tackle will loop and apply late pressure on the QB as he slides in the pocket away from the penetration.

Torch is also good against the run.
Against power the center will always block back away from the play. Therefore, the looping DT will always be looping into the play. The play side offensive tackle is combo-ing to the backside ILB and is not looking for a looping DT. We have also had success against power with the penetrator disrupting the path of the pulling guard. Torch is similarly effective against any other gap scheme play with down blocks and a puller (Counter, Trap, Pin&Pull Stretch or Toss, the Wing-T, etc.) 

Against zone blocking the center will block play side. The penetration forces the running back to cut back directly into the looper. 

Torch is effective vs. the run and the pass. The negative is the investment time to get good at running it. One simple drill we use to teach Torch requires two DT's, a coach/player , two garbage cans, and a hand shield.
The coach lines up as the center holding the hand shield. The garbage cans stand in as guards. The Tackle and Nose react to the movement of the hand shield as the ball. The DT's take their initial step then either penetrate or loop. In the first reps of the drill, I tell the DL where I am going to step. They know pre-snap if they are a looper or a penetrator. The focus on the reps where the DL know what is going to happen is the technique of the twist. Both DL must focus on get-off. When DL are first taught the Torch concept in install meeting they often equate reading the block with slow off the ball. We work hard to make sure they react to the ball and re-establish the L.O.S. on their first step when Torch is called. The other coaching point for the penetrator is to get to an aiming point in the opposite A gap. For the looper the key is to shock the hand shield and use great block shed technique before looping. The center is stepping toward you to block you. You must shock & shed before your loop. 
Once we get everyone reps where they know pre-snap what they are going to do, we transition into the DT's  not knowing where the center will block. The DT's must now react to the center while maintaining great technique as in the early reps. I like to put a player at center on these reps. The drill is simple and very rapid fire. Every DT can get a bunch of reps in a 5 minute period of practice. 

Our defensive tackles have taken a great deal of ownership in Torch. I think they feel it is "THEIR" call in the same way a linebacker feels about a blitz. Torch is a nice addition to your arsenal if you are looking for a way to twist to the right place more often.



  1. Really like this a lot. Im going to link to it from Strong Football. Great stuff man!

  2. Great! Really great! I've never been seen good article for DL stunts like this.

  3. Great Post! I will start to do it with my boys! Do you know if it is possible to aplay this concept in a twist with the DT and DE?

  4. Wouldn't it be possible to aply this concept all over the line?

    3 tech and end, do it against the OT.

    1 tech and end, do it to OG, with a blitz to set the edge.

    And the standard betwem the two tackles, with proper practice not knowing where it is coming from should be really hard to defend.

    1. We use a 2i/5 twist with an outside blitz all the time. Unlike torch we call who goes first, usually the end. The blitz/twist has proven very effective. We will run it from the qbs blind side with the front side aligned in wide 9 and 4i. The arm side high pressure with the end crossing his face will force him to roll against his arm either into the blitz, or into the twist. We tell our twist, to cross faces. If anyone turns to face him and block, keep working out. He may end up as the contain guy depending on the blitz angle.