January 1, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive coordinator Greg Mattison prior of the 2013 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Football: Different Defense? 4-3 Over vs. 4-3 Under

GBMWolverine Coach's Corner2Posted at 12:00pm — 2/26/2014

Michigan Football: Different Defense? 4-3 Over vs. 4-3 Under

We got a question on the message board from Blackie6, one of our regular posters about the possibility of changing defenses and thought we would share with our front page article followers as well? This is why it is important to become a member of the message board to get technical questions answered and discuss with others on what is going on inside the football program.

Blakcie6: Are we changing from an under to a 4-3 over with James Ross III moving to “Sam” linebacker and Jake Ryan to “Mike” linebacker?

Not sure if we/Michigan is changing to, or just adding another look.

Many 4-3 over tackle gurus, Lovie Smith for example, started trading “Sam” and “Will”. Lining “Sam” up opposite the tight end and “Will” with the tight end. This is because one of the areas offense exploit in both the “over” and “under” defenses is iso and zoning to the quick side. The alignment and spacing makes it tough to defend those schemes. By switching the linebackers you get more favorable match ups.

4-3 Over ... 4-3 Under DefensesThe “4-3 under” and “4-3 over” are basically sister defenses.

They are both adaptations of the basic 4-3 front. We hope the technical information and gap responsibilities below do not confuse you. But if so remember football is a very technical venture. Here is a photo of the technique with a numerical identification system is used to describe where defensive linemen and possibly linebackers will line up against an offensive front (offensive linemen and tight ends).

The 4-3 Under Defense Base Rules and Alignment.

4-3 Under DefenseThis defense is the brainchild of Monte Kiffin and is a cousin of the Tampa 2 defense. It is basically an eight-man front against the run. It is also a gap control front.

The theoretical advantages of the 4-3 Under include: (1) the ability to better control gaps; (2) the defense is strong against the run, and (3) the alignment presents and excellent opportunity to pressure the passer.

4-3 under defense 2Disadvantages:
In the same line of thinking the identified disadvantages of the 4-3 Under include: (1) this defense takes great discipline and spacing; (2) one mistake and the ball carrier is in the secondary, and (3) a running quarterback in a spread formation can wreak havoc.

1) “Mike” and “Sam” linebackers – The defensive line angles to the open side, with the “Sam” blitzing the same way off the edge and the “Mike” blitzing the strong side B-gap.
2) Free Safety blitz: The defensive line angles to the “Sam” side with the free safety blitzing off the edge.

4-3 Under Defense fullConclusion:
The Under tackle is a very sound base defense. It is also a flexible base that allows coaches to adjust and easily adapt.

In the 4-3 under the alignment basically calls for stemming or shifting the defensive front towards the tight end.

The nose tackle plays an outside shade on the offensive center to the tight end side. The strong side defensive end plays a 5 technique outside shade to head up on the offensive tackle; The Sam linebacker plays an 8 or 9 technique, head up to an outside shade on the tight end. The quick side defensive tackle plays a 3 technique, outside shade on the offensive guard away from the tight end and the quick side defensive end plays an outside shade on offensive tackle.

The 4-3 under Defense as a Defensive End.
Quick Or Open DE:
This is usually the best defender, one clinic I attended they described him as one of two best defenders along with Sam LBer and needs to be an absolute BEAST!

Strong Side DE’s:
Plays similar alignment and he must also not get reached by offensive tackle, but he also has to be careful not to get flushed or pushed out of his C Gap.

4-3 over defense 3In the 4-3 Over Defense
The defensive front stems, or kicks away, from the tight end.

The strong-side defensive end plays an 8 technique head up on the tight end; the strong-side defensive tackle plays a 3 technique outside shade on the offensive guard to the tight end side. The nose tackle plays either a 1 technique to an outside shade on the offensive center, or a 2 technique inside shade on the offensive guard. Finally, the quick side defensive end still plays an outside shade on the offensive tackle.

4-3 Over DefenseAdvantages:
Stems the defense to the strength of the offense. It accomplishes this by placing the defensive tackle to the strong side. Over tackle also allows the defense to play a bit more aggressive.

With the defensive tackle aligning to the strength, defense can be hurt with short-side isolation. That is why many started flipping the linebackers. Attempting to get better match up by placing the larger linebacker to the quick or open side.

4-3 over defense 2Conclusion:
You can be successful running either defense. It is more about having the proper personal to play either defense.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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