Quick transition key to Akeem Spence winning Bucs NT job
No one would be surprised to see fourth-round pick Akeem Spence win the starting job at nose tackle.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t face some challenges in achieving that goal.
One of the adjustments Spence is making is learning to play the “tilted nose” that the Bucs employ, a tactic that requires the nose tackle to line up at an exaggerated angle. It’s not something many teams use this extensively, but it’s a staple for coach Greg Schiano and his defense. It’s not something Spence ever used at Illinois, either.
“That’s a 60 degree angle, so I never did that,” Spence said. “But (I’m) just repping it and going through it individually, practicing it (against) the goal post. Being here in the rookie camp and (OTAs), it’s starting to become natural for me.”
Spence wasn’t familiar with this element when he arrived, but he’s beginning to learn there are advantages to lining up tilted.
“It’s working out pretty good,” he said. “I can defeat some blocks easier and I’m learning how to move to the B gap.”
Overall, the biggest transition for Spence seems to be learning a defense. The tilted nose, Schiano said, won’t be too tough an adjustment after a while. And even when it comes to learning the scheme, there are fewer variables for Spence because his position isn’t as complicated as some others.
This, one would think, will enable him to play an important role on the team sooner than some other rookies.
“It’s not brain surgery in there playing the nose,” Schiano said. “But there’s a lot of stuff happening (quickly). So the more reps he can get and get an understanding of angles and feel and pressure, the better he’s going to be.”