Football Terms for the Next-Level Fan

My friends … we are beginning our fourth year of learning together, and it is time to have “the talk” about some fundamental terms, because an understanding of them gives that next step up of learning that you and the thousands of “Next Level” readers who come to this site want. I promise that if you take the 15 seconds to understand the terms below, you will be glad you did. This will help you understand so many analyses in the future, especially by the guest coaches.

For the first time in more than three years of doing analysis for this site, I have to break down and refer to “techniques,” which is where defensive linemen line up, and “gaps,” which are the spaces between offensive players on the line of scrimmage.

Now, hey! I lost a bunch of readers right there … but rest of you you can tough it out for another 15 seconds and you will learn something that few football fans understand and it is not that complicated.

Alignment on Defense

Placements for defensive linemen are “Techniques” numbered 1-9, while offensive linemen have “Gaps” A-C.

Let’s use the chart above as a reference point to look at Oregon’s 3-4 defense and the responsibilities the defenders have. “Techniques” are simply the spots where the defensive linemen line up. Does the exact position matter? Yes — whether you line up over the inside shoulder or the outside makes a huge difference for what you are trying to do on defense and the block they are trying to carry out on offense. The “techniques” count the same on both sides. It’s easy peasy! So when we refer to a “3” technique, that is lining up on the outside shoulder of the offensive guard.

Now you could take the time to describe where a defensive lineman is lined up to start a play, but coaches have condensed conversation with these numbers so that everyone among them knows which precise spot the defensive lineman is located at the beginning of a play. Each location will have different playing techniques for the DL that will use this along with various responsibilities he will have in reacting to the many offensive blocking schemes from that alignment. When you state the technique number, it’s easy to grasp and everyone knows the same system.

Here we see the gaps on each side of our beloved Ducks!

From Video

Here we see the gaps on each side of our beloved Ducks!

Gaps” are the spaces on offense between the linemen (see above). The “A” gap is on both sides of the center, and the lettering moves out concentrically from there. Now c’mon, admit it … that was pretty simple!

Note: Although rarely referenced, the “D” gap outside the tight end does exist.

Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Oregon Football Analyst for CFF Network/FishDuck.com
Eugene, Oregon

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