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(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Former Gator Assistant Revolutionizing the Game at Dartmouth

A football team that doesn’t tackle sounds quite unheard of today. But, Dartmouth College is changing the game.

How it Began

Following the nationwide concerns about concussions, Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens thought, “There has to be another way.” He changed how his team practiced.

He said it might have not been the best career move with a new university president, athletic director and coming off an 0-10-2 season.

Teevens went 6-4 the next year with his new tackling philosophy. The team utilizes things like agile bags, pop-up dummies and a robotic tackling device that resembles a 180-pound player running a 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds.

The robot came about from watching a remote control car. Teevens went to the engineering department at Dartmouth and had a study program created in regard to developing the technology.

Showing Improvement

“You will never be tackled by another Dartmouth football player,” he told his recruits. As a former Gator assistant under Steve Spurrier, Teevens credited the Head Ball Coach for developing this new strategy.

Teevens said his players were skeptical at first, but seniors like Isiah Swann and Jack Traynor told their coach they felt fresher than they ever did in high school.

“We’re the best-tackling team in the league,” Teevens said. “We average five missed tackles a game.”

He saw a 50 percent drop in missed tackles the first season after eliminating tackling. It allows the coaching staff to be specific with what kind of tackles to practice.

No Drop-Off on Saturday

Spreading the Word

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

About 100 college programs, 22 pro teams and 100 high school teams use the robotics created by Dartmouth. However, Teevens’s movement hasn’t gained much traction. He thinks it’s because of the potential downside.

“If someone is having success and, all of a sudden, they go 4-8 and they’re not tackling,” he said. “Well it’s because they didn’t tackle (in practice).”

Dartmouth’s head man went to the NCAA in 2017 about eliminating in-season tackling but that was too aggressive. Two weeks later, he got every Ivy League coach on board at a meeting.

Teevens on Getting People on Board

But, he said more and more coaches are coming up for video tapes on how they conduct practice. The team even has instructional videos on YouTube for interested parties.

Getting Ready for 2019

Don’t forget, Dartmouth has a season upcoming too. Teevens said his team was picked to finish second in the Ivy League.  The Big Green finished 9-1 overall and 6-1 against Ivy League schools.

Outlook for the 2019 Team

Teevens on the Ivy League

The Dartmouth Big Green face off with the Jacksonville University Dolphins on Sep. 21 at 1 p.m.

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