What It Feels Like To Decleat Someone

Oct. 23, 2003

The big offensive linemen in the middle don't get recognized too often, partially because they don't have stats for the average fan to follow. However, one of the pure joys of playing in the offensive trenches comes when a lineman knocks a defender off his feet and onto his back. There are many different names for this feat--decleater, pancake, knockdown--but all linemen share the same desire to experience this supreme act of physical domination over and over again. USC linemen are historically renowned for this accomplishment. In fact, former Trojan lineman Dave Cadigan once had 24 decleaters in a single game! Below, USC senior offensive tackle Jacob Rogers--who is an All-American and Outland Award candidate--shares what it feels like to 'decleat' a defender. Here, he recalls a scenario from the 2002 UCLA game.

'On that one particular play it was a zone play to my side and I just engaged a guy in run blocking. He was a defense end. He was trying to play the reach block, and he was trying to throw it outside with me right there and I got him just right.

'In a big game like UCLA, emotions are running really high. I was able to get into him and finish him out on their sideline for a couple of plays in a row. It was a great feeling. When you knock that guy on his back and you are on top of him, you know that you dominated him during that play. Not only that, but their sideline was right there so they are all going crazy. It is a great feeling. It is what you strive for on every play.

'You have to get the right leverage with the guy and be perfect on your technique and with your landmark. In order to get that kind of leverage on a guy, it is a matter of staying low and getting your hands inside on the guy, running your feet and then finishing him. In an average game, it doesn't happen a whole lot. If you stay after a guy you can usually finish him, but for you to land directly on top of a guy, that doesn't happen too often. But once you do it, you just finish the play like you are supposed to do. Some guys like to talk after they do it, but I like to just hop up and get ready for the next play, and hopefully I can do it again. When you are doing it, it is an unbelievable feeling. Every time you do that, it is like you achieved perfection. When you are able to knock them on their butt like that, it's a great feeling because that's how you break down a defensive end--by not letting him do his job.

'Eventually if you continue to do that, you can make a guy quit. As he is going down and you are looking at his face, you see all the color just go out of him. He realizes that he is going to get chewed out for that play, and that is really embarrassing for him to let that happen. You feel good going back to the huddle and hope that you can do the same thing on the next one. By doing that you are able to build up your confidence and mental edge for the rest of the game. It helps you get into your own personal rhythm and get a feel for the guy you are going against.'

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