Trying to negate Nash: With Big Ten talent, Chamberlain’s Hutmacher is tough to block
CHAMBERLAIN -- Nash Hutmacher is the focal point of offensive game plans for every opponent this fall.
The University of Nebraska commit will line up against players with similar size and strength next year, but the Chamberlain defensive tackle typically outweighs opposing offensive linemen by at least 100 pounds.
The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Hutmacher has the strength to fight through multiple blockers, the agility to avoid cut blocks, and even when he is seemingly neutralized, he has the speed to run down ball carriers on the opposite side of the field.
It leaves opposing offenses and coaches saying, “How do we block this guy?”
Hutmacher is always strong side of the interior of the Chamberlain defensive line, but his alignment is contingent on the offense the Cubs are facing each week.
Sometimes he lines up as a three-technique on the outside shoulder of the guard, other times he is a two-technique on the inside eye of the guard or he is a zero-technique: directly across from the center.
The attention given to Hutmacher is beneficial to Chamberlain linebackers, while 6-foot, 275-pound tackle Jackson Soulek has also had a breakout season due in part to the attention given to his teammate.
“It opens up holes for our linebackers,” Chamberlain head coach Jeff Rademacher said. “He gets double-teamed a lot or cut-blocked a lot. I think our linebackers have filled real nice. We have another big kid on the line and he’s really having a good year because Nash attracts so much attention.”
‘He’s hard to cut’
Many teams that had success against Chamberlain this season have not attempted to double-team Hutmacher. Instead, the goal is to simply stay in front of him and wall him off until the ball carrier runs past.
Some have tried to cut block -- a block on the lower body of larger defenders -- but it is rarely met with success. Hutmacher has the ability to use his hands to push the would-be blocker down or the agility to maintain his balance. Even if he does go to the ground, Hutmacher can also recover quickly.
“If you just stay in front of him, he can’t tackle anybody,” said Mount Vernon/Plankinton guard Thomas Baker, who has blocked Hutmacher the last three seasons. “He can just push people out of the way. So if you go to cut him, he’ll just step over you because of how tall and big he is.”
Part of Hutmacher’s ability to shed blocks easily comes from his wrestling experience, which involves frequent hand-to-hand combat that translates into line play in football.
“You’re going one-on-one with people and trying to beat them,” Winner head coach Dan Aaker said. “The two are tied together when you look at what kind of football player he is and the hands just come with that. I think that will be a huge advantage for him early when he goes to (Nebraska), because he’s already got that.”
Playing keep away
Teams have generated success this season by running away from Hutmacher. In Chamberlain’s three losses this season, MVP, Stanley County and Winner have attempted to bounce runs to the perimeter.
Many of those teams have installed an audible to flip a play if Hutmacher is aligned to the play side of the call. MVP was able to accumulate 434 rushing yards in a 55-21 win on Sept. 20 with such a plan.
Others have also tried to capitalize on his quickness at the snap by running a play right by him before he can adjust.
“We’re going to try to call plays to keep him guessing so he can’t pin his ears,” said MVP head coach Brent Olson. “Quarterback sneaks, traps, running away from him, running around him to try to give our offensive linemen and advantage. He’s got to play the guessing game with our motions. We don’t double him any more than anyone else, we just tell our linemen a break-even is a win.”
Of course any blocking technique or schematic adjustment becomes moot when Hutmacher fights off a block to make a tackle on the opposite side of the field.
On the occasions it appears Hutmacher has been stymied, it has become his trademark to hunt down the ball carrier, even if it may be a five yards downfield.
Olson even warns his running backs about such a possibility and even fears injuries, although not due to dirty tactics by Hutmacher, but rather simply because of the combination of his size and speed on impact.
“You don’t want to spend too much time against Chamberlain juking and spinning,” Olson said, “because you’re going to have a 305-pound man running fast behind you to clean up the play. We tell our guys, one cut and go. If you’re feeling it, get out of bounds or do what you need to do so you don’t have a guy like that hitting you from behind.”
Winner attempted to use that sideline-to-sideline ability as a weapon to slow Hutmacher. The Warriors accumulated 55 rushing attempts for 330 yards in Friday’s 28-6 win over the Cubs, while none of Hutmacher’s four tackles came behind the line of scrimmage.
“Hopefully you wear him down by making him go sideline to sideline,” Aaker said. “In a sense, that’s something teams have probably tried.”