Submitted by BBGoBlue on December 31st, 2008 at 10:39 AM

I have a question regarding the 3-3-5 and personnel. Given the recent resignation of SS, it seems that we will be seeing the 3-3-5 rather than a 4-3-4. What will our future defense look like, 2 DEs and 1 DT? Now I am going to make an assumption here as far as recruiting goes, but if we do get a highly rated DT “otter” in this class, are we just going to play 2 Des and say Martin in the middle? Now this question might not apply as much to next year as it might in the future. It seems like we would keep at least one very good player on the bench and that a 4-3-4 might suit the personnel better. Any thoughts?



December 31st, 2008 at 10:49 AM ^

A 4-3-4 is your basic 4-3.

But I suppose we will have to wait and see who is hired at DC. If it's Hopson, or maybe Casteel (highly unlikely), it will probably be a 3-3-5. You never know though.


December 31st, 2008 at 10:52 AM ^

I don't think the 3-3-5 will work in the big ten, its proof by looking at the Purdue game. Plus, the 3-3-5 will do nothing to stop a team like Wisconsin, MSU or Ohio State from just plowing through the middle with only 6 guys in the box.


December 31st, 2008 at 11:04 AM ^

I wouldn't say the Purdue game shows "its proof" the 3-3-5 won't work in the Big Ten. Given that the team only had a week to prepare for running it exclusively, it's pretty unlikely they were severely underprepared. Besides, Purdue is hardly a prototypical Big Ten team.

And the 3-3-5 is primarily designed to stop the run, anyway, so I'm not sure why it wouldn't be effective against those teams. Those teams predominantly run it up the gut, and I would argue that the 3-3-5 would be less effective against running backs with more lateral mobility, since there are just fewer linemen and linebackers. I admit, I don't know a ton about the 3-3-5, so I could be wrong, but I think this is just a lot of paranoia about the unknown.


December 31st, 2008 at 11:42 AM ^

Any scheme needs to be coached for more than one week to be successful. Obviously the spread offense takes some time to coach. If Rich Rod decided to run the Bo-era wing-t for one week it would have been even worse than what they were doing on the field. The fact that they even tried the 3-3-5 for one week speaks volumes on how bad the defense was struggling in Shafer's schemes, they seemed desperate.

I think you are misinformed about the 3-3-5. 3-3-5 simply refers to the personnel on the field not the formation they line up in. 3-3-5 does not mean that with the 5 defensive backs they are 3 safeties that line up 10 yards away from the ball. Against "base" offensive sets like OSU, Wisco, MSU (2 WR, 1 TE, 1 FB, 1 RB) 2 of the safeties (called spurs/dogs, think SS/OLB tweener) line up 3 yards from the line of scrimmage outside of the last offensive player on the line of scrimmage. In this line up the defense is more like 3-5-3, so there are the 8 defensive players in the box to stop the run. This is why I like the 3-3-5, its adaptability.

You can't say that any scheme can not work in the Big 10. If you ask me it is horrible mistake to stay in a 4-3 against any spread team (Northwestern, Minnesota, Illinois, Penn State, Purdue). You are asking LBs to cover alot of space on the field.

This juco coach explains some of his 3-3-5 scheme here:

Sorry, Meant for howarddestroysherbie

chitownblue (not verified)

December 31st, 2008 at 11:59 AM ^

I don't understand "_____ won't work in the Big 10" arguments. It's football the Big East plays with the same rules we do, and the SEC, and the Big 12, and the FCS. If it works, it works. The name of the conference doesn't matter.

If the argument is "it doesn't work against power rushing teams", then that, at least, has some substance. Except for the fact that the Big 10 really only had 4 power rushing teams left (Wisconsin, Iowa, MSU, OSU).


December 31st, 2008 at 10:56 AM ^

I don't think will see much of the 3-3-5, we have to much talent on D-line to waste on a 3-3-5 D, not saying the 3-3-5 is bad, just with our talent base we have/will have would be kind of a waste of talent, right now we need all the best play makers on D at this point.


December 31st, 2008 at 11:03 AM ^

The 3-3-5 is a defensive variation of the spread, putting speed and power on the field.

Rich Rod wants it, and it's coming. Get ready for it.

The team needs 6-8 defensive lineman and linebackers apiece to make this work. Then it needs a bunch of defensive backs. Have a look at recruiting this year. See a trend as to how Rich Rod is recruiting? Lots and lots of D-Backs/linebacker/safety hybrids.

Doesn't Pittsburgh run something awfully similar to the 3-3-5 in the NFL? If the 5th Defensive Back is just a mobile linebacker (think James Harrison on Pittsburgh, for example), and this person is J.B. Fitzgerald on Michigan, what in the world is everyone worried about? Purdue? C'mon - the team changed the formation on 6 days' notice. Of course there were going to be issues. I believe the team will be just fine if given 9 months to prepare in the 3-3-5. Just look at WV's defensive stats the past few years and go have another shot of whisky - it's New Years Eve.


December 31st, 2008 at 11:04 AM ^

Remember that WVU beat Georgia in a bowl game with it a few years ago, and stomped on Oklahoma in last year's Fiesta Bowl using the 3-3-5. The beauty of the defense is that you can actually attack the line of scrimmage and the backfield with multiple looks out of the 3-3-5. It seems to offer more of a "blitz option" look moreso than the standard 4-3.

What happened at Purdue was probably more of a desperate attempt to shore up a defense that was struggling everywhere but the front four. Obviously, to run a quality 3-3-5 and even a 4-3, you need fast strong linebackers and I think we were lacking somewhat at that position as well as the obvious secondary issues.

The conference doesn't matter as much as the personel running it. Trying to run a defense with personel il-equipped to do so will fail every time, for proof, check the Detroit Lions.


December 31st, 2008 at 11:28 AM ^

My question is about personnel and running the 3-3-5. I am not trying to knock the 3-3-5 because I don't know enough about it. Just looking at WVU stats, it looks like a pretty good D.

But, suppose "otter" commits and not '09, but '10, we have MM and Otter, or whoever else as a DT, wouldn't we be better off having them both on the field. I think MM will be very, very good and depending on how others pan out, we could have a lot of talent on the Dline to only play one of them at a time.


December 31st, 2008 at 11:25 AM ^

I'm not sure what your questions is asking, BBGoblue. By definition, if we play three defensive linemen, one will be a DT and two will be DE's.

If you're asking about personnel we have on the current roster or incoming, here's my take on where each one would play in the 3-3-5.

Van Bergen - DE
Patterson - DE
Banks - DE
Graham - DE
Martin - DT
Sagesse - DT/DE
Campbell (?) - DT
Lalota - DE
Roh* - DE
Graves - DT/DE
Jones - DT/DE

If we go to the 3-3-5, I would not be surprised to see Roh decommit and go elsewhere. He might not be a great fit as a DE in a three-man front. If that happens, I wonder if Taylor Lewan would also decommit. I'm not saying these things WILL happen, but it's something to consider.


December 31st, 2008 at 11:43 AM ^

you're assuming the Otter is committing on Saturday. If the Otter doesn't commit Saturday, the talent base looks just fine for having one DT on the field. With the Otter, you've got a Martin / Campbell rotation-buffer policy in case of injury/fatness/Butler-ness, and you can move the rest around or redshirt an incoming recruit or two, which is what we should really be hoping for here. Get Roh and LaLota 30 pounds heavier of muscle and get them ready for when Brandon Graham leaves.


December 31st, 2008 at 11:50 AM ^

Jamison, Taylor, Johnson are gone. The only D-linemen that made solid contributions this year that are coming back are Graham, Martin, Van Bergen. None of the other D-linemen wowed anyone last year. There is your 3 man line. If Campbell comes to Michigan, a HUGE if, it would be asking alot for him to start immediately even if he enrolls early. Campbell still will be a 18/19 year old going against senior O-linemen. He could be the first sub for Martin at DT and see alot of time there. I don't know how much Mich can rely on Sagesse.


December 31st, 2008 at 2:52 PM ^

a 3-4 where you have a nose tackle and two bigger DE's who could play both end and tackle, sort of like WVU's Scooter Berry. Looking at the current depth chart at WVU it lists a NT, a DT, and a DE, which is probably your pass-rush type.

MM could play NT or DT, Graham DT or DE, and I've heard Van Bergen can play DE or DT. A guy like Roh could be a DE or a stand up rush-end like Woodley and Harrison, as someone mentioned earlier, and I think of the Otter as a great NT. The personnel will depend on the down and distance of course and once again this set seems to have a lot of flexibility.

With more speed on the field this seems to be a good choice to combat the more explosive offenses in college football today but I imagine it's also easier to recruit for since quality linemen seem a little harder to find.


December 31st, 2008 at 12:19 PM ^

I believe if you run a 3-3-5 you'd still go to a Nickel look on passing downs. Therefore, Craig Roh would be likely used as Lamarr Woodley is by the Steelers. Additionally, I believe Gsimms pointed out that a 3-3-5 doesn't necessarily mean 1 DT and 2 DE. It's more about getting your strong, fast players into the line to eat up blocks and free up linebackers to flow unimpeded to the point of attack. This could mean a line of MM, Otter, and BG next year in the standard 3-3-5 look, with RVB and Sagassee as the primary subs, or bringing RVB onto the edge in a Nickel look.

Basically I think RR will use a combination of the 3-3-5, 4-2-5, and Nickel packages. IIRC the difference between the 4-2-5 and the Nickel is pre-snap alignment (1 deep safety in the 4-2-5 and 2 (SS/FS) in the Nickel) and a slight difference in personnel, as the Nickel is swapping a CB for a LB and the 4-2-5 swaps that LB for a SS/LB hybrid.

Someone correct me if I'm way, way off base here but it seems that Rich Rod will use these three formations to create mismatches and advantages in the same way he has structured his offense to have the edge.


December 31st, 2008 at 1:08 PM ^

I don't know that being a nickel pass rusher is enough of a reason to attend a school. If you had scholarship offers from a ton of good D-I schools, would you want to go and play about 33% of the defensive plays (a number I pulled out of my ass) or would you want to go and play every down?

chitownblue (not verified)

December 31st, 2008 at 2:54 PM ^

Also, most scouting reports I read suggest that both Roh and LaLota (especially Lalota) excel more at stuffing the run than rushing the passer - wouldn't that dovetail more with them fitting into a 3-man line?


December 31st, 2008 at 3:06 PM ^

Lalota, yes. Roh, I'm not so sure. He did end up with 100+ tackles this year, so he's obviously present in the run game. But he also had 16 sacks. He's listed as a weakside defensive end and he's 230 pounds. I don't know that he'll necessarily hold up as a 4-tech or 5-tech.


December 31st, 2008 at 3:07 PM ^

It might be possible that he plays both in college but I think that he make a perfect NT. We've seen some good players that had the same size as him in Watson and Branch but neither of them were thought to be as talented as The Otter. It seems a player like him could make the 3-3-5 more effective.