Is this thing on?
I did not make this headline up
I know everyone has been panicking about DE recruiting, but I'm wondering if the coaching staff might have a different plan. We've recruited 3 people who can or most likely will play LB ( Mike Jones, Bell, Barnes) and are expected to land a commitment from Brandin Hawthorne, another LB. It would seem weird to bring in all these linebackers after numerous LB recruits we pulled in last year, but it got me wondering: what if we are going to switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 base front? This could explain the lack of DE recruiting and the large amount of LBs we've gotten. Michigan can pull in just one DE and be done for the class, instead of 2-3 DEs that everyone is praying for. I'm curious what you think about this, and is 3-4 used in college, and if so, what's it's pros and cons?
BSE Electrical Engineering
University of Michigan '05
I don't believe this is the idea. Scott Shafer is an avowed fan of the 4-3 and has repeatedly stated his intent to use it, and not the 3-3-5 stack Jeff Casteel deployed at West Virginia, as his base set. In some more recent interviews, Shafer's talked about how quickly Michigan's picked up the scheme and his intent to be a "multiple front" defense, but the 4-3 is and likely will be the base going forward.
This probably makes the most sense given the personnel, too. In the 3-4 you're supposed to have one honkin' nose guard who will absorb two blockers on every play and two "defensive ends" who are 270-280 pound guys closer to three-technique DTs than true DEs. During Michigan's one-year experiment with the 3-4 in 2004, Larry Harrison and Pat Massey -- two guys who were 4-3 DTs --were the ends. The traditional defensive end sorts often end up as outside linebackers, like Lamarr Woodley did in '04 (and is now with the Steelers). I don't think the move actually lessens the need for DE sorts, it just changes where they're deployed. But I'm not intimately familiar with the benefits and drawbacks of the 3-4. (Maybe GSimmons85 will bless us with a breakdown?)
I do know it's extremely rare in college. AFAIK, no Big Ten teams use it as a base set, and I don't recall any in outlying territories that do so regularly, either. Michigan did see a number of 4-3 teams revamp their defense into a 3-4 look designed to stop the zone read (Iowa and USC most prominelty), but those were one-game adjustments only. The big exception: Notre Dame, which adopted the 3-4 when Corwin Brown became defensive coordinator. It's early, but the results weren't inspiring.
Meanwhile in the NFL, the 3-4 has spread from the Steelers to a goodly portion of the league. Why are colleges lagging? I don't know but theorize that the defense requires the sort of athletes college teams can't get their hands on with enough regularity to make it a consistent winner.
Brian- What do you think of the possibility of Brown taking Feagin's snaps and have Feagin red-shirt? If Feagin isn't going to be all that great of an option, what would be the point? (Unless you want to have both of them in the backfield, which could be frightening I suppose.)
I guess what my question boils down to is, what do you think of Brown actually taking snaps as a QB?
Brown at QB is strictly a Wildcat thing, IMO. He's playing McFadden.
On Feagin: Rodriguez made it clear in his last press conference that Feagin was not making the impression he needed to if he was going to be a candidate for serious playing time, but conflicting reports from practice indicate the coaching staff still has hopes of working him in midseason. I take this as a vote of no confidence in the current QB starters, or at least an acknowledgement that it's going to be rough at times and once Feagin gets acclimated they'll have to give him a shot just to see.
I do take your point, though: if Feagin just can't throw enough to make defenses respect him as a quarterback, you're basically running the Wildcat and you may as well do that with Brown. That way you can maybe redshirt Feagin, see how he does when Beaver and Newsome arrive in the fall, and move him to one of the positions LSU and Miami saw fit to offer him at.
This is not likely to happen, IMO, as Michigan will put Feagin on the field at some point just in case. It's hard to argue with that thinking, as anything that helps the Rodriguez era get off on the right foot will greatly aid recruiting. Expect Feagin to see the field unless one of the two guys in front of him is unexpectedly effective.
Speaking of the Wildcat:
I tend to believe that Michigan's offense, given the QB limitations this year, stylistically is going to look like some combination of Northwestern(base)/Missouri(TE use)/Arkansas(Wildhog). My question, what percentage of the plays run at Arkansas were run out of the Wildhog formation? Is there a quick answer out there?
Robert W. Petti
Unfortunately, there is no UFR-equivalent for Hog fans and no handy compendium of how often the Wildcat was deployed. I dug up a couple things, though. In Arkansas' ridiculous upset win over LSU, it was the majority of the Razorback offense:
Arkansas ran the Wild Hog formation 31 times for 294 total yards and four touchdowns - 11 times for 67 yards and one score in the first half, 15 times for 216 yards and three end zone celebrations in the second half, and five times for 11 yards over three overtimes. The Wild Hog accounted for 57 percent of the Razorbacks' 513 total yards of offense and four of UA's seven touchdowns.
Arkansas had 77 snaps in that game.
In the bowl game it was less prominent:
• When lining up in the Wild Hog formation, Arkansas accumulated 82 yards rushing on 14 plays.
Arkansas had 83 snaps in that game; across those two games the Wildcat accounted for 28% of the Arkansas offense. It's not just a trick play here and there, it can be a part of a pretty decent collegiate offense... if you've got Robotbeastpig taking snaps. I don't think Michigan has that guy, but they do have the wide array of potential ballcarriers that could make the Wildcat effective.
Is this thing on?
this thing is on.
Now - Please can we never speak of pat massey again.
I roasted some maize on the grill today. It was delicious.
I pose this question to Brian, but also to the rest of the huddled masses.
Is it possible, with that huge class of LBs we had in 2008 (in addition to our continued pursuit of guys in the secondary as well as LB for 2009), that the staff is going to convert some of the bigger/slower LBs to DE to fill our needs - not quite a Shawn Crable role, but some kind of hybrid.
I remember something Brian said last week about Safeties we are currently recruiting that are projecting more as LBs, and therefore isn't growing LBs into DE or Hybrid roles possible, or even likely?
Deploying more athlectic guys from the end position might also fit the more aggresive defensive approach of Shafer. I obviously have no idea, but I don't think I have heard that solution discussed everytime the "ARGGGH no DEs!!!!" sentiment comes up.
sure i would be happy to help, just let me know what you want.
About the 3-4 vs the 4-3.... the 3-4 is what the 50 defense is when you play against spread teams.... and its important to remember that principle when talking about why you use the 3-4 or the 4-3. I hear the conversation being about the nt and the ends. The reality though is that what makes nt, and ends effective in the 4-3 or 4-4 makes them effective in the 3-4. You protect weaknesses with nt's or ends by angling, slanting etc. just like you do in an even front. The BIGGEST diffence between a 4-3 and a 3-4 scheme is the olb's these are the guys that make you decide what type of defense you run, that and what the majority of your opponents offenses are like. In a 3-4 to be able to morph into a 50, as well as be able to play against the spread with the same personal, you have to have olb's that can play in space, and be able to play a 9 tech on a tight end, from a 2 point stance. When 3-4 teams are suprised by double tight formations, they walk down there olb's and BAM, its a 50 front. When 4-3 defenses see double tights, or a spread, they have to make descions as far as removing players from the box, or shifting linemen.
Obviously im a big fan of the 3-4 becasue of its versatility, and becasue ive become pretty good at coaching guys on how to play that olb spot. Shafer is a base 4-3 guy, true....... but ask him what he runs against spread teams, or what he likes to zone blitz out of it, and he is all about the 3-4 okie defense.
The 4-3 was a way to stop the power I game, Triple option offenses. It lacks the versatilty to effectvely defend the the parimeter against the spread imo.
Robotbeastpig > Manbearpig ?
First of all, the premise for the first mailer's note is incorrect. He mentioned that Bell, Mike Jones, and Barnes are all likely or able to move to DE.
Barnes is strictly an inside linebacker; there has been no talk of him moving to DE, and in fact, that would take away his biggest strength - plugging a running lane.
Bell's ball skills are way too good to put him at DE. He could play either safety position or OLB, but not defensive end. He might be able to play OLB in the 3-4 that was mentioned, but there's a big difference between 3-4 OLB and 4-3 DE. It's not impossible to play both, but if I were Rodriguez, I wouldn't even think about putting Bell down in a three-point.
The only one of that trio to be a potential DE is Mike Jones. He's a fierce hitter with limited ball skills and agility. He has good straight line speed, but he won't be a safety in college (as the recruiting sites have him listed). He's about 205 pounds right now, but by the time he plays at Michigan, he'll probably be a 225-230 pound outside linebacker. At that size (or a little bigger), Michigan could line him up as a weakside DE. Taylor Hill and Marcus Witherspoon are also potential candidates to become DE's.
Uh, Magnus, first mailer's post was talking about Bell, Jones, and Barnes at LB, not DE. Bell and Jones play safety in high school but will most likely be moved to LB due to skills, size, and possible scheme changes. I doubt these guys will be put at DE, and if they are, that means that we would have completely struck out at DE recruiting.
Odd fronts are great against spread teams and teams that like to pull lots of guards because the Nose Tackle can really muck up pass protections vs. spreads and really mess with. Personnel wise I agree with Gsimmons and his statement that the real benefit to 3-4 is the versitility to not break base defense versus more offenses.
Regarding the Mailbag question: Lots of 4-3 DCs will recruit LBs to play DE (see Dennis Erickson at Miami circa 1990).