Beaver Football 101: Defensive Line

Hello and welcome to's newest feature, Beaver Football 101. The man with the chalkboard is recruiting analyst James Greule, and OrangeAttack is the uh...other guy. <br><br> To the untrained eye, football can appear to be a chaotic ballet of bodies flying in seemingly random directions. Nowhere is this more true than the offensive and defensive lines, where casual observers might think that it's simply a matter of strength vs. strength, and scheme is rarely even considered.

Digram of a 4-3 base defense We think that the men in the trenches deserve a closer look, and where better to start than the defensive line?

Oregon State employs a 4-3 base defense, which means that the Beavers utilize a four man defensive line consisting of two defensive tackles, two defensive ends, three linebackers, and four players in the secondary - two safeties and two corners.

On the defensive line (also known as the front four), sometimes one of the two defensive tackles (DT) is referred to as a nose guard (NG). The nose guard is the position we are going to discuss in this feature.


Q: Where does the nose guard line up?
A: A nose guard can line up anywhere from the inside edge of the offensive guard to head up (straight across from) the center.

Diagram of a 4-3 over defenseQ: I thought that Oregon State played with two defensive tackles? How do I know who the nose guard is?
A: Oregon State's base defense is an "over." Typically that means that the defensive tackle to the strong side of the field lines up on an outside shade of his guard while the weakside guard (NG) lines up on the inside of his guard, closer to the center.

If both players stay on their side regardless of the strength of the field, then neither is considered a nose, but if they flop so one guy takes on the bulk of the double teams, then he is considered the nose.


Q: Who is the nose guard in Oregon State's defense this year?
A: I don't know if we flip this year or not, I have not seen it. But Alvin Smith is the best candidate if they are (or decide to start) flipping.


Q: What are the keys for the nose guard?
A: Basically there are six keys on the offensive lineman (OL) to your inside. The venter can go one of six ways:

  • Pull away from you
  • Block down away
  • Shoot straight out to the next level, and block a linebacker.
  • Block down on the nose guard
  • Pull in front of you
  • Pass set

You have responsibilities based off of what direction he heads.

The Beaver defense in their 4-3 set.


Q: What are those responsibilities?
A: Basically they are as follows:

IF the OL Pulls away:
Then the NG "water-skis", or tails the pulling guard to the play -- but watch out, because the far guard is going to down block you, or you are going to be cut by the guard on your side.

IF the OL down blocks away or shoots straight out:
Then the NG trap reacts at the heel's depth of the original line of scrimmage, finds the ball and pursues.

IF the OL Blocks down on the nose guard:
Then the NG shoves him back in the direction from which he came, hopefully well enough to cancel two gaps -- one with his body and one with yours.

IF the OL pulls in front of you:
Then the NG knocks him on his ass. The offensive line will very rarely do this, but if they do, you better get up quick because there is a 90% chance that the guard on the side that the offensive line is pulling towards is going to cut you...hard.

IF the OL pass sets:
Then the NG better freaking pass rush.


Sir Henry Anderson in a three-point stance.

Q: What are the different stances the NG can line up in?
A: 95% of the time the nose lines up in the three-point stance - inside hand down. Sometimes in short yardage situations the NG will line up in a four-point stance.

The third stance is a three point tilt, which is based off the offense being run and very rarely implemented at OSU.

Well, there is the bell, that means class is out - pencils down. Please don't mention to Mr. Greule the chalk on his pants, sometimes he's sensitive about that. 

We hope that you enjoyed the first installment of Beaverfootball 101 and hope you will join us again in the future.

If you have any questions that you'd like answered in future installments of Beaver Football 101, e-mail them to with "Beaverfootball 101" in the title.  Go Beavs!

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