Colts Key Matchup: Saturday vs Wilfork

Colts Pro Bowl Center Jeff Saturday takes on New England's nose tackle, Vince Wilfork, in a battle that will determine how diverse the Colts' running attack can be Sunday night. Greg Talmage has the details...

Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is finally becoming comfortable at the nose position of the Patriots 3-4 defense. Wilfork admitted the transition from college to the NFL was full of adjustments. He recently told Pro Football Weekly, "Well, you know, I come from the University of Miami, where we're a straight penetrating defense. My whole rookie year and part of last year, it was like they were molding me into a nose tackle. I didn't have it right away. It took time for me to grow into it. Just to understand the types of blocks you receive, the type of formations, what you can get out of formations."

Wilfork is a true two-gap player who disrupts power runs and counter plays between the tackles. He contributes mainly on first and second downs, so Colts C Jeff Saturday will not have to deal with him on every snap. He is also a space-eater inside, who has the body mass to anchor and control the point of attack.

The wide-bodied run stuffer usually commands a double-team. Unfortunately, if forced to double Wilfork it allows an inside linebacker –Tedy Bruschi or Junior Seau – to roam free on running plays. This is the huge task for Jeff Saturday against New England on Sunday night. If he can control Wilfork without much help, the Colts running game should yield plenty of positive yards between the tackles. If not, the Colts run gameplan will become increasing more predictable because Indy will be forced to run outside and off-tackle.

One of the knocks on Saturday despite his recent Pro Bowl status is that he lacks the strength to move powerful nose tackles off the line of scrimmage. While Saturday may not possess the strength to consistently overpower Vince Wilfork, he knows how to use his technique, smarts, and work ethic to hold his ground against almost any DT in the NFL. When run blocking, Saturday takes smart angles, and if left uncovered will use his quickness to get up and through to the second level to chip. This, however, is easier said than done against a practically unmovable object like Vince Wilfork.

Vince Wilfork just continues to get better. He is an enormous hard-to-block plugger. In order to be successful, though, you have to go right after him and attempt to wear him down. Jeff Saturday might just be the guy to do that. While he may be not able to overpower Wilfork often; he won't let Wilfork overpower him either. He can hold his own too.

The winner of this matchup won't be determined by which one gets the better push on the other, but rather by who wins the battle laterally, gaining control over the gaps in the interior of the frontline as these two slug it out right at the line of scrimmage.

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