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OrangeLarry

4-3 or 3-4 (or 4-2, 3-3, 4-4, or 3-2)?

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Written by a good friend of mine who is a Texas Ex and former head coach at Karnes City H.S.
 
In this day of football's multiple offenses and pass promoting rules, labeling a defense according to the number of the DLs and LBs is misleading. A DC must choose a sound defense that will best use his talent, best match up with his opponents' talent and schemes, and best be conveyed to his staff and athletes.
 
It would be futile to argue that Muschamps 4-3 or Orlando's 3-4 is superior. Both are great DCs that know their defenses, can teach them well, and make them match up with opponents. The effort, character,  and talent of the athletes determines the success on the field, and both DCs will appear to be in differing fronts during the season depending on their folks and the opposition's schemes.
 
Tom Orlando may believe in the 3-4, but in the Big 12 he actually runs a 3-3, and 3-2 the vast majority of the time. A 3-2 front with a six man (dime) secondary that includes 2 to 4 large, fast safeties matches up well with today's spread and scarcity of good TEs. Texas certainly demonstrated that for half of the 2017 season.
 
The Horns will miss Jason Hall's and Deshon Elliot's size and speed combination that allowed them to fill in for missing LBs in the dime package.  Hall's ability to play a DE, a LB, or a S made the dime extremely versatile and most effective.  The Texas dime (or "lightning") often looked like a 3-2, 3-3, or 3-4 front and then would morph into other alignments/slants/blitzes by the snap.
 
The most common way to attack a 3 man front with 6 DBs is to run draws, delays, and some screens.  The offense shows pass, the LBs and secondary drop and seperate from the 3 rushing DL, and the draw/delay can be deadly with the natural vertical seams. 
 
When 2 or more of the DBs can successfully move up to blitz or play DE at any time, as well as playing secondary coverage successfully, the draws and delays are much less successful.  Add in the Texas 2017 LB speed, solid 4i DEs, and Poona Ford's disruption at the nose and the Texas dime package was truly lightning!
 
It appears that Orlando has inherited or recruited the talent to adequately replace losses in the secondary, in the DL by committee,  and LB (except, possibly, for Malik's speed) in 2018.  If that is true, Orlando showed he and his D staff can certainly teach, so Texas' D should be solid, and make Horns' fans believers in the 3-4...uh 3-3...er 3-2, or...uh lightning, or whatever.
 
I am looking forward to that rematch with Maryland! 
 
Hook 'em.

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