Thursday, October 07, 2010

New scheme gives DT Cole bigger impact

San Francisco running back Frank Gore is stood up at the line of scrimmage by Seattle tackle Colin Cole in first half action.


October 3, 2010

Seahawks: 3-4 alignment puts former nose guard in center of run-stopping plans

Renton - Early against San Francisco in the season opener, running back Frank Gore bounced outside and broke free with nothing but daylight between him and the end zone.

Gore was headed for a sure touchdown before Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Colin Cole swooped up the Niners’ running back, holding him to a 6-yard gain instead.

“I know Frank was upset about it, but had (Cole) not been there that was six points,” Seattle middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu said. “Those kinds of plays are special. … He’s been playing amazing lately, and I just hope he keeps it up.”

The play was an example of the new freedom Cole has been given in Seattle’s 3-4 hybrid scheme, resulting in higher productivity for the 6-foot-2, 330-pound former nose guard brought in before the 2009 season to help the Seahawks’ run defense.

Cole is tied for sixth on the team with 11 tackles, and has a pass deflection. He said the team has shifted him from a penetrating nose guard playing in the gap to a two-gap player head up on the center, allowing him to read the running plays and move to the ball to make a tackle.

“It’s just the way the scheme is made up,” Cole said. “I’ve always played with the mentality of being able to play sideline to sideline and get out on some of those plays. So it’s just the fact that now kind of being at the line of scrimmage and being able to have one guy on me helps me find the ball better, especially being over the center. The center usually brings you to the ball for the most part.”

Cole’s change in focus was part of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll’s emphasis on getting bigger inside to stop the run and force offenses into third-and-long passing situations.

Seattle was solid against the run last season, finishing 15th overall (98 yards a game). But the Seahawks have raised their level of play in 2010, and are fifth overall against the rush (67.7 yards per game).

“Stopping the run is always going to be an important part of the program,” Seahawks defensive line coach Dan Quinn said. “For me, it’s how good you can play the techniques, which is something we’re going to continue to work hard to do, and to have great pride in that. I think when you have a good run defense, it opens up other opportunities for you.”

Along with Cole, Brandon Mebane has been a force inside. But the Cal product has been limited this week with a calf injury and might not be available today.

So it will be important for the Seahawks to lean on their depth inside.

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