Part of the many transitions that Texas A&M will go through in its inaugural season in the SEC is changing from the 3-4 to a Multiple look with a 4-3 base. In part one I will discuss some benefits and risks of the 3-4. The reason behind discussing the past is because former Aggies D-Coordinator Tim DeRuyter had recruited personnel for the 3-4 defense for the last 3 years. It may seem subtle but every minute detail matters in the SEC.
- Disguises 4th or even 5th blitzers
The idea behind only having 3 down lineman is being able to disguise the 4th blitzer or any other additional blitzer in a package. Typically, the 4th rusher is one of the outside linebackers. This is the type of position that Von Miller and Damontre Moore thrive in. They have a fast first step and great speed. Typically these players struggle playing stationary positions like inside linebacker. Reading and reacting is not there strength but playing fast and on the move is. The 3-4 is perfect for these players because the scheme accounts for a freelance type of player. The 4-3 does not.
- Allows more zone coverage options
Along with being able to disguise the 4th blitzer, the 3-4 also allows for more zone coverage possibilities. The option to only rush 3 and flood certain zones with an extra defender also becomes an option. Along with the disguises, it allows for a showcase of different pre-snap looks.
- More fluid shifts to different fronts
Having only 3 down lineman means that there are more possibilities for different fronts. It is easy to shift lineman left or right a gap and put another man on the line of scrimmage. This is another benefit to the freelancing linebacker like Moore because it keeps the offense from consistently knowing where he will rush the passer from. The fluidity of this type of front allows for an instant 4-3 type of look. This type of diversity has some high risks but can also pay high dividends.
- More diverse personnel packages within base defense
Due to being less committed to having linemen on the field, there becomes the advantage of having more diverse personnel packages within the same look. A coach could put a nickel type package together without getting away from the 3-4 look and playbook too much. A 4-3 requires an entirely different package and playbook to be put on the field for a nickel look.
A fluid defense means that there are a lot of moving pieces. The 3-4 defense is a hard defense to perfect but when a defensive unit figures out how the pieces work, it can shut down the most potent of offenses. The difficulty lies in the ability to constantly disguise coverage’s and blitzes. The 3-4 doesn’t focus as much on balance as it does pressure. The scheme coupled with the teams’ style of defensive play can create a stifling atmosphere. This type of defense usually plays fast and relies on the big play. High risk, high reward.
Part II will cover the the 4-3.
About the Author
Written by Russ Hale
I played Inside Linebacker at the Junior College and NAIA levels. In 2009 I graduated from UNLV with a B.A. in Liberal Arts. I finished Graduate School in 2011 with a M.S. in Sports Management & Marketing.