Junior-college transfer Chris Martin, a projected starter on the defensive line for Kansas University, isn’t afraid to let Big 12 quarterbacks know that they will be facing a different pass rush than they are accustomed to seeing from the Jayhawks. He intends to come after them and not in a gentle way.
“I’m violent with my hands,” Martin said when asked to describe his strengths. “That’s the biggest thing. I’m really violent with my hands. I just have a knack for getting to the quarterback. I’m really fluid and explosive, and I shoot a lot of moves.”
He uses his violent hands to “shoot my moves with aggression,” and so many of the moves D-linemen use to get by blockers have violent names. Martin rattled off some of his best ones: “Bull rush. Swims, rips, long arms, post and stab, pick and ice, spin, pop, chop/club/rip. I’ve got a repertoire, man. Each one is something I can shoot.”
Martin, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound junior, has the wingspan of a 6-11 man, and his arms are more muscular than long. And he sounds and in practice looks as if he knows how to use them.
“You always have to go in with two, three moves in your head,” Martin said. “You’re about to spin and they stop you, you’ve got to come back out and shoot a rip, shoot something. It’s like clockwork with it. It’s always going. You can never stop with your hands.”
He described one of his favorite moves, the chop/club/rip: “You’ve got to chop down on their forearm. You’ve got to club. You’ve got to always pin on their elbow. There are pressure points on the offensive lineman’s elbow. Then you’ve got to rip. You shoot a rip. You shoot your arm right up under their armpit, raise them up.”
And the long-arm move, tell us about that one.
“That’s where I lock out my arm on them and ride them,” he said. “I push them all the way through, don’t let them get their hands on me, place it right in their chest, ride them all the way in. For me, because of how long I am, if I’m like this (sticks arm out) and I turn my body, he has no way to grab me. All he’s going to do is keep falling back and back and back into the quarterback until I feel his weight lean on me. Once his weight leans on me, I let go and release. It’s just like playing pulley with a guy. You just toy with guys like that.”
These are 300-pound offensive linemen he is referencing, and he’s talking about toying with them. Until the fall, when he suits up in games for Kansas, that’s all it amounts to, is talk. But it’s generally a good sign when a football player doing nothing more than talking creates the sensation of fear in the man listening, a man who actually weighs more than Martin. (OK, so it’s distributed a little differently.)
Martin turned the conversation from the moves he likes to execute, or as he put it, “shoot,” to a general culture change in the defense he is determined to help instill.
“You’ve got to be violent,” he said. “That’s our persona this year. Violent. That’s what we are. That’s our defensive mind-set.”
What’s that you say? I look frightened? Come on, the man was just talking. He didn’t even have pads or a helmet on.
“Not just the defensive line,” he continued. “From us to the linebackers to the DBs. We’re violent. We’re going to hit you in the mouth this year. We are not going to back down. We’re not going to be the same 1-11 defense. We’re not that. That was those guys before. We’re here now. This is 2013. This is the type of identity we want. “
Violent. Even the cornerbacks?
“All of them,” Martin said. “We have to have them as hitters. We can’t have anyone out there who doesn’t want to hit. Nobody that doesn’t want to cover. You’ve got to be willing to take that man one-on-one. We need guys like that. That’s what the identity of our team will be. Corners who will man up. Safeties who will knock your head off when you’re trying to post. Linebackers that will stuff the run, and defensive linemen that will kill the old quarterback or beat up the offensive linemen. That’s the identity we want. That’s the brand of football we want to play.”
You don’t think it will work? OK, you tell that to Mr. Martin. I’ll pass, thank you very much.