The rules are:
- If the center blocks away from you - Penetrate
- If the center blocks toward you - Loop
Here the center is blocking toward the Tackle and away from the Nose. The Nose reads the center blocking away and continues to penetrate to the opposite A gap. The Tackle has the center blocking toward him and will use his hands on the center then loop over the top of the penetrating Nose.
Here the Tackle reads the center away and penetrates. The Nose reads the center blocking toward and loops.
Torch is an effective pass rush stunt.
When the center pass sets toward the Nose the Tackle becomes the penetrator. This is a 1 on 1 inside pass rush against the guard for the Tackle. The initial inside step by the Nose holds the center's attention and prevents help by the center on the penetrator. Our Tackles beat the guard's block in this situation a percentage of the time. The rest of the time the Tackle's penetration disrupts the QB's footwork. The QB has difficulty stepping up into the throw when the penetrator is on the midline. If the QB does not attempt to step up, the contain rushing DE's have a great opportunity to collapse the pocket. Often the QB's most viable option is to slide in the pocket away from the penetration.
The QB feels open space to step into a throw or to use as an escape lane. As the QB slides into the open space the Nose loops into the same space and pressures the passer.
When the center pass sets to the Tackle typically the offense is in some form of slide protection. The Nose now has the 1 on 1 inside pass rush. The Tackle will loop and apply late pressure on the QB as he slides in the pocket away from the penetration.
Torch is also good against the run.
Against power the center will always block back away from the play. Therefore, the looping DT will always be looping into the play. The play side offensive tackle is combo-ing to the backside ILB and is not looking for a looping DT. We have also had success against power with the penetrator disrupting the path of the pulling guard. Torch is similarly effective against any other gap scheme play with down blocks and a puller (Counter, Trap, Pin&Pull Stretch or Toss, the Wing-T, etc.)
Against zone blocking the center will block play side. The penetration forces the running back to cut back directly into the looper.
Torch is effective vs. the run and the pass. The negative is the investment time to get good at running it. One simple drill we use to teach Torch requires two DT's, a coach/player , two garbage cans, and a hand shield.
The coach lines up as the center holding the hand shield. The garbage cans stand in as guards. The Tackle and Nose react to the movement of the hand shield as the ball. The DT's take their initial step then either penetrate or loop. In the first reps of the drill, I tell the DL where I am going to step. They know pre-snap if they are a looper or a penetrator. The focus on the reps where the DL know what is going to happen is the technique of the twist. Both DL must focus on get-off. When DL are first taught the Torch concept in install meeting they often equate reading the block with slow off the ball. We work hard to make sure they react to the ball and re-establish the L.O.S. on their first step when Torch is called. The other coaching point for the penetrator is to get to an aiming point in the opposite A gap. For the looper the key is to shock the hand shield and use great block shed technique before looping. The center is stepping toward you to block you. You must shock & shed before your loop.
Once we get everyone reps where they know pre-snap what they are going to do, we transition into the DT's not knowing where the center will block. The DT's must now react to the center while maintaining great technique as in the early reps. I like to put a player at center on these reps. The drill is simple and very rapid fire. Every DT can get a bunch of reps in a 5 minute period of practice.
Our defensive tackles have taken a great deal of ownership in Torch. I think they feel it is "THEIR" call in the same way a linebacker feels about a blitz. Torch is a nice addition to your arsenal if you are looking for a way to twist to the right place more often.