“The thing about max protection is it’s mainly for us to keep the quarterback in the pocket because we don’t want him to run,” said nose tackle Travis Tuiloma. “We just keep squeezing [the pocket] and making it smaller, so it puts pressure on him.”
The Cougar defensive front hasn’t been able to put a whole lot of pressure on the opposing quarterbacks over the course of the season. Tuiloma had a very good game against UCF and his performance was spotlighted by Bronco Mendenhall. However, as a whole the lack of pressure up front has been noticeable.
“I feel that we could get a lot more pressure even though there’s only three of us rushing,” Tuiloma said. “As long as we try to condense that pocket down and do our best to get to the quarterback with three guys.”
Rushing against a max protect offense with a four man front, let alone a three man front, can be very challenging. If the defensive front can’t get to the quarterback they need to disrupt the passing attempt by denting the pocket.
“Oh yeah it’s definitely tough,” Tuiloma said. “You don’t really have many options because if you go left or to the right there’s always two to three guys there. All you can try and do is just go forward and try to push that pocket.”
The question of whether or not to pass rush or simply defend their gaps is determined both by the play call but also a personal decision by the defensive lineman. The decision to break off holding a two-gap to pass rush has to be one that’s made rather quickly.
“It’s a bit of both,” said Tuiloma. “We have our base defense the 3-4 where it’s pretty much a 4-4 [with a safety rolled up]. We have to make sure we have our gaps secured in order to react to pass situations. When it’s like that we’re supposed to move laterally, but we do have plays were we have to move vertical. That transition moving from lateral to vertical is tough, but we’re still working on that part.”
Cougar Cam: Travis Tuiloma
Travis Tuiloma talks about his performance against UCF. He gives his thoughts on what he needs to improve to become a better d-lineman, taking on the two-gap, and knowing when to break off into a pass rush. He talks about the pass rush focus of the d-line and much, much more.