The trenches in football refer to the area along the line of scrimmage where the offensive and defensive lines play. The trenches are considered the most physical part of the football field due to the close proximity of the players.
Lining up just about anywhere else on the football field is going to have a least a few yards of separation between you and other teammates. When in the trenches there is a total of at least eight players between both teams.
Lining up so close to one another means there is going to be physical contact every play, oftentimes with multiple players.
Additionally, the trenches feature some of the strongest players on the football field. When it comes to the bench press, prospects that play in the trenches such as the offensive tackle position and the defensive tackle position often lead the way.
Defensive ends, center and guards are a few other positions near the top of the list.
Having all the strongest players on the field confined into this small area means there is going to be a lot going on.
Duties In The Trenches
When in the trenches different position groups are going to have different roles. Below we will break down what the offensive line and defensive line are doing.
When a running play occurs the defensive line has the goal of bringing down the running back. But before they bring him down they have to be sure to cut off his path.
On rushing plays, the offense will look to open a hole in the defensive line. The runningback will know where the hole is being created and will attempt to run through it once they get the ball.
It is up to the defensive line to not allow the offensive players to push them out of the way. Defensive tackles should have the awareness to feel where they are being blocked in order to determine where the running back intends to go.
The line must then plug that hole before the running back gets through. If they are able to plug the hole then the running back will likely be tackled in the backfield.
On passing plays the goal of a defensive lineman is to get out of the trenches and into the offensive backfield.
The offensive line will work to keep the defenders in the trenches while they will try their best to get past. Ideally, the defenders want to end the play by sacking the quarterback. Though pressuring him while he throws has a large effect as well.
On rushing plays offensive linemen get to block downhill. On these plays, the offensive line will attempt to push the defenders back as far as possible from the line of scrimmage in order to gain some yards for the running back.
The offensive line will also be tasked with opening a hole for the running back to travel through. This will usually involve an offensive lineman laying a block on a defensive lineman in order to create an alley.
These are the sorts of plays in which offensive linemen are able to be especially physical with defenders.
On passing plays the offensive line drops backwards and forms a pocket for their quarterback.
In these plays, the offensive lineman will take on the defensive line as they try to work their way into the backfield.
The left offensive tackle plays the biggest role on passing downs as he protects the quarterback’s blindside. This is the side the quarterback has his back to which makes it difficult for him to see pass rushers coming.