Diaz bringing NEW tackling style?

Diaz bringing NEW tackling style?

I love new drills.


Comments (73)

Diaz brought "Hawk Tackling" to MSU last season. It appears he's doing the same thing here:

“I thought in the back end we were very poor in tackling,” Diaz said. “To their credit we’ve got some guys that are hard to tackle, but with the way we’re trying to teach it, it’s obvious we’re not ready for prime time yet. We have to continue to improve on that and some of the guys we have may not be able to. We told them, ‘Those who will tackle will play.’”

Needless to say his results in "teaching" the system last year had it's detractors..... Mississippi State Message Board: Manny Diaz Changed how we tackled

Mississippi State Seahawks? Dawgs embrace NFL tackling

STARKVILLE — Manny Diaz's first meeting as Mississippi State's new defensive coordinator attacked the core belief of every player in the room.

Those listening tackled a certain way their entire lives. They were taught by their PeeWee coaches and then their junior high and high school coachesl. Former defensive coordinator Geoff Collins has continued the lessons of traditional football tackling at Mississippi State.

Diaz, a disciple of the rugby-style tackle, demanded a change, one already accepted by the Seattle Seahwaks.

“I wanted to rebel,” senior cornerback Taveze Calhoun said. “Being a senior leader, I knew he wouldn’t put us in a position for us not to succeed. So I just tried to throw myself out of the way and stop being selfish and learn a new technique. But I ain’t gonna lie, the first time he told us, I thought the old way worked good enough for me.”

Mississippi State played its first game in 1895. Its defense's form-tackling hasn’t changed much since. Coaches taught defenders to attack the upper torso of the ball carrier, leading with the head across the opponent’s chest.

Diaz's philosophy is based on a system developed by Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks that's geared to prevent head injuries. Seattle practices its tackling without pads and helmets.

Carroll emphasizes “eyes through the thighs, wrap and squeeze and drive for five when necessary” for what he calls "Hawk Tackles."

A variation includes the defender using leverage after wrapping the thighs by rolling the ball-carrier to the ground. Diaz said no player has suffered a concussion while playing defense at Mississippi State this season.

“We don’t have any choice anymore if we want this game to survive,” Diaz said. “We have to do everything we can for the safety of the combatants in there.”

To hammer home the success of the rugby tackle, Diaz used film showing Seattle’s Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman and even former Bulldog K.J. Wright executing the maneuver.

“If he would have just come in and said, this is how we’re going to tackle, it probably would have been harder to get adjusted to it,” linebacker Beniquez Brown said. “But watching film and watching those guys tackle and how they attack the line of scrimmage, it was a big relief knowing they did the same thing.”

The old technique worked for Beniquez Brown last year at linebacker. He totaled 62 tackles, which were second behind second-round NFL draft pick Benardrick McKinney. He added seven tackles for loss, which was third-best on the team.

“The first thing that came out of my mind was, 'How am I going to do this?'” Brown said. “Growing up I was taught one way. (Collins) taught that way, then he comes here and tells you to change completely what I’ve learned my whole life. It was a stretch.”

Diaz, who had implemented the technique at Louisiana Tech and watched it pay off with 16 fumble recoveries, met the skepticism with film. He pulled 10 to 20 clips from Mississippi State’s final game last year in the Orange Bowl. They showed Bulldog defenders already using the rugby style tackle.

The key difference is the target.

“I look right at his hips," freshman safety Brandon Bryant said. “I see where his leverage is. His leverage takes me where I’m going to go.”

The technique emphasizes squaring up the opponent, tracking the near hip, then attack the thighs with the shoulder and wrap up.

“Whatever move he makes, I make,” Bryant said. “Then I throw my near leg and my near shoulder to his thigh. I try to put the knife through his thigh. Coach Diaz always says pretend there’s a knife on your shoulder pad. Throw your knife into his thigh.”

Bryant spent hours watching the Seahawks’ famed secondary, “The Legion of Boom,” prior to the 2015 season, particularly the Seahawks’ Super Bowl win in 2014 when they held the high-scoring Peyton Manning and Denver Broncos to eight points.

“It was a physical game. They played the game safe with great tackling,” Bryant said. “They made a couple of big plays. Kam Chancellor knocked some people out, but they take the head out of their tackles.”

Mississippi State opened each day of practice through the spring and summer with similar tackling drills performed by the Seahawks.

But old habits don’t die easily.

“It takes a few games. It really does,” said linebacker Richie Brown, the Bulldogs' leading tackler with 73 stops (8 TFL, 5.5 sacks). “It’s hard to simulate a live game reps of doing it. We’re still getting better at it to this day.”

Beniquez Brown has 59 tackles, three shy of a career high with three games remaining. He’s a sack away from new bests in tackles for loss and sacks. Bryant forced a fumble in his third play as a starter.

“It’s helped a lot. It keeps you squared when you tackle,” Bryant said. “The square man wins. If your tackling shoulder is behind the runner, you’ve got a better chance of missing the tackle than when you’re square.”

Mississippi State’s defense reviewed every tackling opportunity this season during its open date last week. The film showed fewer missed tackles than in the early portion of the season.

The Bulldogs, though, have not reached a Seahawks-level of mastery with the rugby tackle yet.

“There’s no doubt we've improved as the year has gone on,” Diaz said. “I think that’s just trusting it and believing in the game speed of things. But we have to continue to improve to be the team that we need to be.”

Get ready for some growing pains.
Can't be mad with a coach trying to prevent head injuries most of the kids aren't going to be NFL superstars and future health is important. Seahawks seem to tackle pretty well
I was going to make a thread about this. When he initially got hired and I was perusing other boards, one thing that frustrated fans the most was how a Diaz coached team tackled poorly (and gave up too many big plays). He constantly talks about needing to tackle better (he did the same at Texas and Mississippi State), but his teams were constantly criticized for tackling poorly and unnaturally. So while I understand that he could have changed/gotten better since the Texas fiasco, he is still teaching the same tackling technique....

"Right now, the current panicky craze is to rag on defensive coordinator Manny Diaz for the fundamental issues the defense is having with tackling and with poor linebacker play."
Here: OMG MANNY DIAZ IS TEH SUCK!!!1!1 - Burnt Orange Nation

"This is why Diaz was fired"
Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u59qoOOoUcE

"...The third-year coach's firing marked the end of a truly forgettable era, one typified by last year's abysmal defensive unit, which set a school record for most yards allowed per game"... "racking up 259 yards on the ground against a confused, ill-prepared, and poor-tackling Texas defense"... "today’s iteration maintains too much residue from last season’s historically woeful squad, and a blooper reel of missed tackles and missed assignments sabotaged any hope of Longhorn victory."
Here: So Long, Manny Diaz: Defensive coordinator fired after Longhorns' forgettable Saturday - Sports - The Austin Chronicle

A pretty damming article on Diaz not making adjustments and having an unsound defense.
Chronicling the final moments of Manny Diaz and return of Greg Robinson - Burnt Orange Nation

**Interesting to note that after the scrimmage, Diaz said the D-line played well and made plays in the backfield, but the defense, overall, tackled poorly and gave up too many big plays. This seems to be a consistent theme when he is the DC. Obviously he hasn't coached a game here yet and a lot of this stuff could just be correlational, but this is definitely something to keep an eye on.
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I liked seeing Denzel pop guys as much as anyone, but there is a pretty dramatic difference between what Pete Carol teaches and Golden's tackling clinic. The principle of leverage jumps off of the screen, something we have not had in the Dorito era.

Caroll Method

Goldie Method

Dorito Method

I, for one, am cautiously optimistic since the concept seems intuitive and works hand in hand with proper leverage. Eyes on the inside thigh and shoulder through the thigh seems so much easier than getting the guy squared up, squatting, firing the hips, etc..., which all assumes you haven't already been juked.
Did anyone else get confused watching noD and goldy teach you how to tackle?? Now I know why we couldn't tackle for ****, who teaches their players to tackle high?? That's what the runner wants you to do
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good breakdown of Seahawks tackling and how Ohio State implemented it prior to their national title run.

How Pete Carroll's rugby-style tackle is changing college football - CBSSports.com

National College Football Writer

How Pete Carroll's rugby-style tackle is changing college football

Urban Meyer wanted nothing to do with rugby-style tackling at Ohio State. The idea of defenders using their shoulders to tackle, changing target points on a ball carrier and emphasizing wrapping up around the legs wasn't an easy sell to Meyer. Like so many coaches, Meyer had been taught that tacklers should force their heads across the chest of a ball carrier -- the “head across the bow” model that represented Tackling 101 for so long.

But Ohio State defensive coordinator Chris Ash pushed to change techniques after the 2013 season. Ash watched Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll's video of the Hawk Tackle, which sells the rugby tackle as safer for the head and more efficient to bring down ball carriers. Ash studied his past and present defenses and realized many of his players used rugby tackling anyway, not the technique being coached.

The idea of rugby tackling “was one that I fought at first and I said no, we're not going to do that,” Meyer said. “Chris Ash is very persistent, he's a very good coach, and (like) good coaches who really believe in something, stayed on me. … I listened. I did as much research as I could and ultimately we jumped in. Tremendous success right out of the get-go. You could see the difference.”

Across college football, there's a major shift occurring over how to tackle, largely in an effort to make the game safer. Rugby-style tackling has gained momentum, so much so that a company in Seattle devoted to promoting rugby is now trying to enter the marketplace to analyze college football tackles.

Could rugby-style tackling become a better tactic, if not a solution, for reducing football's concussion numbers? Could this be tackling's future at all levels?

"If this is something, as we go forward with the studies, that make us better," TCU coach Gary Patterson said, "then I think you'll see a lot of people go to this."

There's no precise way to identify how many college teams are applying Carroll's rugby-style tackling video or to what extent. Some teams use portions of the technique. Also, football tackles are like snowflakes -- no two are ever the same. Gary Darnell, executive associate director of the American Football Coaches Association, guessed that 35 percent of college teams use the technique. Duke defensive coordinator Jim Knowles estimated 50 percent.

Putting aside statistical guesses, there are anecdotes supporting the technique. And they're coming from some old-school coaches who know they must adapt to changing times or fewer parents may let their kids play football.

For years, 55-year-old Georgia Southern coach Willie Fritz had taught eyes up and chin-on-chest tackling. Shortly before the 2014 season, an assistant coach showed him Carroll's video. Fritz adopted the technique on the spot right as his team's two-a-day practices were about to begin.

“I must have watched that tape 20 times,” Fritz said. “One of my coaches said, ‘You just got done installing your tackling techniques all spring and summer and now we're going to change?' I said, ‘Yep, and these guys will buy right in. I'll show them a tape of Coach Carroll. They won the Super Bowl. They're NFL players. If they can do it, we can do it.' Last year's the best season we've ever had tackling.”

It's difficult to quantify how much safer, if at all, rugby-style tackling makes football. Rugby, which is played without a helmet, has faced its own scrutiny about concussions. But instinctively, rugby's tackling concept seems to make sense as a smarter approach for football, said Dr. Robert Cantu, a Boston University neurosurgeon and a leading voice about concussions and how football is played.

“Just the concept of taking your head out of tackling is good,” Cantu said. “Does it suddenly make tackling safe? Of course not. But to the extent you keep the head out of the hit, you're less susceptible. It's a good tackling technique. It's used in rugby for a reason. Unfortunately, they still have a lot of head injuries, but the head contact is accidental.”

Could the Hawk Tackle be taught at all levels?

Carroll's adoption of the Hawk Tackle was one of necessity. In 2010, the NFL expanded defenseless player rules to basically eliminate hits above the shoulders.

“I was resisting,” Carroll told SI.com in 2014. “How are we going to do this? How are we going to do that?"

So Carroll adapted and made the Seahawks into what he calls a “shoulder leverage tackling team.” In 2014, he released a video sharing the teaching points of the Hawk Tackle: eyes through the thighs, wrap and squeeze, and then “drive for 5,” meaning carry the ball carrier back five yards if necessary while engaged.

The video became a hit in football circles, trickling down to all levels of the game. Fritz even wrote a letter to Carroll thanking him for introducing the concept. Anecdotally, Georgia Southern defensive coordinator Jack Curtis said the team had fewer diagnosed concussions in 2014 after changing to rugby-style tackling.

“As football came out with new rules, what you saw from most football coaches is complaining and whining that you can't do this, can't do that and they're handcuffing us on defense,” Curtis said. “Pete Carroll, to his credit, said, ‘I'm going to teach this tackling and I'm going to sell it as a safer and more effective way.' When you watched it, some of the things we had been teaching forever, but it was hard to find it on film what you taught. It made a lot of sense.”

Before the Hawk Tackle -- colleges change Carroll's label to suit their nickname, such as Eagle Tackle at Georgia Southern -- so much of tackling was the defender putting his head across the body to stop a ball carrier's forward momentum. As receivers and running backs became bigger, some college teams shifted in the past decade to more leg tackles as an equalizer against physical mismatches.

“We've been tackling legs for a long time,” said Patterson, TCU's coach. “You end up behind them. We all would like to drive through and do everything, but running backs have either gotten too big or too fast, and everything is an angle and grabbing their legs and being able to get them down. The big ones stiff-arm you, the other ones run away from you. … For 15 years, we've believed if you size right in the hole, you're going to be a leg tackler.”

But for many college coaches, they knew just one way to coach tackling or they didn't have the terminology to describe some of the rugby-style tackles seen on film. One of the major arguments against the Hawk Tackle is how players fit on their tackles. The defender is supposed to track the near hip of the ball carrier and then lead with the near shoulder in the runner's thigh. If a ball carrier is on the sideline, there's the potential for whiplash or the tackler only hits the runner's back.

“Try that on Adrian Peterson a couple times and he'll say, ‘Bye, bye,' yet it's taught that way,” said Darnell, who spent 37 years as a coach for 11 universities. “But it's an amazing technique to see. I think about it, as a little kid, I played sandlot football forever and we didn't have helmets and tackled each other to the ground sort of like that, and I think we made it through all right.”

Some coaches struggle with teaching defenders to put their shoulder behind the ball carrier. There are concerns about how two defenders fit while closing in on a ball carrier.

“Part of that is rectified that when you wind up in that moment when your head is behind him, you hit and roll,” Darnell said. “The concern some coaches have is you're not tackling with your body, you're tackling with your arms. That's a problem. But at the end of the day, the great tacklers tackle with their legs.”

Darnell said the Hawk Tackle is the closet technique he has seen that could be taught at all levels. He hopes to see a point when youth, high school, college and the NFL adopt one way to tackle. He doubts that will ever happen so neatly, but he could envision the NFL, AFCA and youth organizations creating a coalition one day.

“If we were to get all four levels singing the same song, football would be a lot easier to discuss when we're talking to parents,” Darnell said. “From a legal standpoint, we would solve a lot of things if we could get that done. If someone got hurt, maybe they didn't follow protocol. The beauty of the Hawk Tackle is they have all the fundamentals, they have the vocabulary for it, and if there's a problem, we can all see what it is and adapt.

“Behind the scenes, I don't think there's many people who wouldn't want to see a single way to do it. But it's never been that way because you have such great defensive coaches, they're not willing to change. But the point is the No. 1 objective at this time is safety.”

The art of selling rugby tackling to colleges

Perhaps more than anyone, Rex Norris symbolizes the convergence of rugby and football. Norris is the son of Rex Norris Sr., a longtime NFL and college assistant who served as Barry Switzer's defensive coordinator, and Norris is the great-nephew of former Baylor coach Grant Teaff.

Norris also loves rugby. He has coached the oldest high school girls rugby club in America, a nationally-recognized team that regularly sends players to Team USA.

Last March, Norris resigned as the head football coach at Kentwood High School in Washington after 11 years and with an 87-30 record. Part of the reason was to spend more time with his daughter. Part of it was to blend rugby and football together. Norris became director of football programming at ATAVUS, a Seattle-based company that announced in September a partnership with Ohio State and the University of Washington to analyze every possible data point imaginable of their players' rugby-style tackles.

Before a re-launch in June, ATAVUS was known as Serevi Rugby -- named after the founder, Waisale Serevi -- and designed to teach and grow rugby in the United States. Serevi, a native of Fiji, was one of the world's greatest rugby players before he retired. Now the company has its hands in football, too.

Norris said ATAVUS has partnered with the computer science department at Washington to develop a specialized database that improves the grading and safety level of football tackles. Norris said ATAVUS receives weekly video from Ohio State and Washington to analyze about 100 data points for each play. So far, ATAVUS has watched 1,600 tackles this year. The video will help ATAVUS create reports for the coaches that can address tackling issues and modifications to tackling drills.

When Norris coached high school football, he behaved like most coaches after one of his players made a tackle. He might make a “great tackle” comment and then he moved on, simply happy that the ball carrier was on the ground.

“I didn't analyze it,” Norris said. “But if you talked to me about passing and blocking and running, I was all over the kid and could talk to him. There are a lot of coaches that feel either you know tackling or you don't. You're either naturally a great hitter or you're not. We couldn't disagree more. The game has changed because players are bigger, faster and stronger than ever. The I-formation downfield run through a hole has changed. It's sideline to sideline. So tackling has to change, too.”

The idea by ATAVUS is to create more instinctive tacklers and a dominance rating for tackling, Norris said. If a player makes nine out of 10 tackles but every tackle was 10 yards downfield, that defeats the purpose. Instead, Norris looks for tackles from a dominant position that stops progression and yards after contact.

“Ohio State and Washington have gone past the Hawk Tackle,” Norris said. “I would say they both definitely are 100 percent into the concepts of rugby tackling, and the way they practice it and evaluate it means the expectations of tackling has gone up.”

At Ohio State, Meyer has a play count that limits certain players' contact in practice, according to Norris. Once a Buckeyes player exceeds 2,000 plays in a year (practice and game plays), the player changes jerseys and can't hit or be hit in practice, Norris said.

“It's about understanding there are different ways getting to what you want,” Norris said. “But you've got coaches out there now quitting because there are state laws saying you can't have as much contact. They can't see past contact as the educator. When you watch martial arts, those guys are doing stuff against air all the time. They're not striking people all the time. The same concepts can be done with tackling.”

Last month, The Seattle Times quoted Washington coaches speaking highly of their work with ATAVUS. Ohio State spokesman Dan Wallenberg said the Buckeyes do not have a contract with ATAVUS and has not paid for its services. ATAVUS did visit campus as a potential vendor, Wallenberg said via email. In a press release dated Sept. 2, ATAVUS quoted Ash, the Buckeyes' defensive coordinator, supporting the company's work.

After being told of Ohio State's comments, ATAVUS released a statement that said it has worked collaboratively with Ohio State and Washington coaches as “strategic partners, providing each other with feedback as we evaluate how best to design our program to truly meet the needs of coaches before we roll it out on a broader scale. For both programs, we are working through details of our ongoing relationships, which includes discussions on formal contracts, but at this point there is no commercial agreement between either school and ATAVUS.”

Norris said he met with Oklahoma last summer and may meet with Nebraska soon. Missouri, Arizona, Clemson, Florida State and Michigan State are examples of other colleges that use some form of rugby tackling, according to Norris. ATAVUS will speak at a Texas High School Coaches Association clinic next July.

Here is Norris' concern: Youth coaches will watch the Hawk Tackle video and try to apply the technique without knowing what they're doing.

“I had a buddy at a Texas high school who said the first day they tried Hawk tackling, two guys got a concussion and they stopped it in the first five minutes because they didn't know what they were doing,” Norris said. "There were a lot of inconsistencies in the (Seahawks) video than some of the things we showed them. Certainly, it's been a fantastic thing for football teams across the country to run with it. It told this company there's probably a need for this analysis."

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, who started teaching roll and low tackles two years ago, shared a similar safety concern, even though he loves how the technique allows for tackling practice every day without violent collisions. Fitzgerald serves on the advisory board of the USA Football tackling committee. He said USA Football has discussed incorporating rugby tackling into its “Heads Up” tackling program, which advises defensive players to keep their heads and eyes up and use the front shoulder as the point of contact.

“My concern (with rugby-style tackling) at the youth age -- and I've got two boys playing football -- is their helmets are so much heavier than the rest of their body,” Fitzgerald said. “I think you've got to be pretty mature to execute that low tackle properly because your eyes do go down. It's hard not to keep your eyes up, and when you put your eyes down it puts the head and neck in a vulnerable position. I think it's a great teaching tool and technique for our level, but I'm not sure about grade school.”

Whether or not rugby-style tackling fully catches on, the intent is good. Duke adopted the technique two years ago in part because football's brain trauma crisis directly hit Knowles, the Blue Devils' defensive coordinator.

Knowles was good friends with former teammate Tom McHale, an ex-NFL player who died in 2008 at the age of 45 from a drug overdose. McHale was diagnosed post-mortem with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease often found in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma.

“Tom's wife, who I'm close to, donated his brain to research study and that gave me a lot of pause,” Knowles said. “You really have to look at how you're doing things. It's still a great game, right? But we need to preserve it, even if you have to do some drastic things. In order to protect this game, tackling like this is a necessity.”
Diaz is just trying to teach kids how to tackle the tight way. Last season our D couldn't wrap, left feet way too early, and took bad angles, especially in the open field. Anything is better than getting pushed back 5 yards every play, knocked on our *** and getting juked by mediocre skilled players. If they stick to his teachings we should see progress by the meat of the schedule. The negative mindset of the entire program ( fans included) has to change. You can tell some of us have been scorned too long......now every positive gets a negative remark before giving it a chance. Relax.....give these kids a chance to learn... the last thing we need is for them to lose confidence.
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Seems like it would be hard to field a physical defense with this technique. (at least on the back 7) But then again, Seattle's doing it, so...

My only problem with tackling legs is that leg's move. RB's are chopping their feet, raising their knees, high stepping, etc etc etc. Leg's are violent and tend to be hard to grasp. You're also not gonna create many turnovers grabbing at legs. Fumbles are forced when you tackle the torso.

Honestly, I can see pros and cons with this technique. But maybe it is a better way. I'd like to learn more about it.
Perhaps this technique will keep Carter from getting kicked out of half the games.
Did anyone else get confused watching noD and goldy teach you how to tackle?? Now I know why we couldn't tackle for ****, who teaches their players to tackle high?? That's what the runner wants you to do

well the guy in the second video was so effective at teaching tackling that he is now coaching TE's. go figure.
I'm into results. If we see other team on ground quickly all is fine. If not, then Diaz has to go and go quickly. Personally, I want defense to deliver pain. That pain has huge benefits in 4th quarter.
I'm into results. If we see other team on ground quickly all is fine. If not, then Diaz has to go and go quickly. Personally, I want defense to deliver pain. That pain has huge benefits in 4th quarter.

There is a lot more slamming, or so it looks like, with the hawk tackle technique. I'm sure (if it works) the new technique will pay-off in the 4th quarter too.

Also, yeah safer, true. As a spectator who has no chance of suffering a concussion while watching the game, I LOVE that sound of someone just getting WRECKED (but not injured). I hope we still get some of that.
I liked seeing Denzel pop guys as much as anyone, but there is a pretty dramatic difference between what Pete Carol teaches and Golden's tackling clinic. The principle of leverage jumps off of the screen, something we have not had in the Dorito era.

Goldie Method

Dorito Method

I, for one, am cautiously optimistic since the concept seems intuitive and works hand in hand with proper leverage. Eyes on the inside thigh and shoulder through the thigh seems so much easier than getting the guy squared up, squatting, firing the hips, etc..., which all assumes you haven't already been juked.

Goddamit these guys were f*cking retarded

I get annoyed just watching their stupid instructional tapes

D'Onofrio is a jack ***, and Paul Williams probably doesn't even know how to tie his own shoes

You can thank Shalala and her libtarded agenda for that abortion of a coaching staff
This is just another example of a staff that is at the front of coaching not at the tail-end. I will say, rugby guys still attack the ball-carrier without pads and helmets and this may be how they do it.
Here's a great technique see the man ball you knock the **** out of him and make sure you wrap up.
At least he is trying something different. Our tackling has been abysmal (like most aspects of our game) the last 10 years.
Tackling has been a major issue with diaz im hoping it was personel more than the style he teaching
At least he is trying something different. Our tackling has been abysmal (like most aspects of our game) the last 10 years.

Hard to disagree with that..

Unless we are trying to perfect arm tackling, almost anything will work.

Still, much like our defensive "philosophy" the last few years, I am not a huge fan of trying to teach new fundamentals to kids once they reach the collegiate level and have been playing a certain way all of their lives....it takes too long to break the old habits, and then quite some time to master the new technique.

We were always taught to wrap the legs and drive thru. Best way to bring down a ball carrier. Too often guys stay high and give up too much YAC.