Gridiron Grit Vol. III: In Football, Defense Wins Championships Part 2

November 1, 2011
by Justin

You already know the almighty cliché; defense wins championships. Honestly, it didn’t matter what sport I was playing; great defense was always the main focus. Football has had some legendary people line up opposite of the offense. Ray Lewis is my favorite linebacker, and someone who I think personifies what defensive football is all about. In the college football landscape of today, the best players come out of the SEC. The SEC is college football’s most dominant conference and produces NFL-level defenders every year. They have produced national champions for the last five years, and Auburn University is apart of that great football championship pedigree.

Welcome back to Gridiron Grit, your one-stop shop for college-level football training, tips and techniques, provided to you by In volume one ( we explored weight training, while in two (’t-compromise-your-size/) we focused on gaining weight without compromising your lean muscle mass. This is the second installment of volume three of the Gridiron Grit series, specifically dedicated to the defensive side of the ball. All three phases will be highlighted and broken down from top to bottom. Last week was all about the defensive backs ( so naturally were moving into the second level of the defense, the linebackers. Here are some of the great tips and techniques from College football’s defending national champion, Auburn University. Auburn is known for current NFL rookie-superstar Cam Newton, but Cam wouldn’t have held the 2011 AFCA trophy if he didn’t have a solid defense. These drills will turn you into a punishing college-level linebacker.


The Figure Eight

A great drill to get your agility to the level of a college linebacker is the figure Eight. Auburn football had an excellent defensive line last year that primarily ran a 4 man base front, led by Auburn’s college All American Nick Fairley. They kept Auburn’s linebackers free to roam the football field, sideline to sideline. A returning starter of one of college football’s most efficient linebacking cores was Daren Bates, who racked up 48 tackles in nine starts for Auburn last year. Here is a demonstration of the figure 8 done by two Auburn linebackers. If you want to increase the difficulty, have someone chase after you:


The Good Foot

This is one of college football’s meat and potato drills. The good foot drill improves your agility and lateral quickness, while forcing you to take quicker steps. Taking quicker, more precise steps will eliminate over pursuit and any imbalances within your tackling base. Be sure to focus on keeping your steps short and getting your knees up when you are passing over the bags. Here is a demonstration from one of Auburn’s linebacker executing the football drill:


Auburn hasn’t had the same success this year in the SEC. College football’s toughest conference has two teams (Alabama and LSU) in the top five that are going to face off to establish supremacy, and a possible berth in this year’s BCS National Football Championship. If you ever want to play on college football’s highest level like an Auburn Tiger, follow these drills. Until the next time, this is Gridiron Grit, and this is Yorick Hempstead signing off.



Yorick Hempstead is an ex-college athlete who is a sports blogger for He is always talking sports on twitter @HempsteadHuddle.

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