Tech trying to improve defense with rugby-style tackling

Georgia Tech’s defense has stressed better tackling in the preseason, the facet of the game having been one of many that was subpar last season.

It has been a particular priority for the secondary. Cornerbacks and safeties are often the last line of defense, where a missed tackle can mean a touchdown for the opposition.

“Because there’s going to be some plays that those guys are going to make in the open field that, it doesn’t have to be a pretty tackle,” safeties coach Andy McCollum said. “Get it down, make ’em snap it again.”

McCollum said he has seen improvement from the group, particularly Lawrence Austin, slotted as the starting nickel back.

“I think Lawrence Austin’s probably had the biggest improvement from a year ago of wrapping up,” McCollum said. “Lawrence likes contact. But he’s got to be a guy that wraps up.”

One technique that coaches have emphasized is rugby-style tackling, a form of bringing down ball carriers that is considered safer and more effective. Traditionally, players have been taught to put their head across the body. In a rugby-style tackle, the defender puts his helmet to the side of the body and brings force with the shoulder.

Popularized by the Seattle Seahawks and coach Pete Carroll, the tackling style is thought to reduce concussions as the head is not as much a part of the collision between ball carrier and defender. Tech started using it two years ago, McCollum said, in part because it “made a lot of sense injury-wise.”

“We do the same thing (in practice daily), keeping the hat out of it, running through tackles,” McCollum said.

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