Nov 23, 2013; Iowa City, IA, USA; Michigan Wolverine player Brennen Beyer (97) intercepts a pass and returns it for a touchdown against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the first quarter at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Wolverines: The 4-3 Defenses -- Part III

GBMWolverine Coach's Corner2Posted ay 4:00pm — 7/28/2014

Michigan Wolverines: The 4-3 Defenses — Part III


The “over” shift in scheme has been decree by football historical technicians a result of the annihilation of defenses by offensive predecessors of the spread offenses, namely the strong option and wishbone packages of teams like Switzer’s best Oklahoma teams. The standard college 5-2 and even the base 4-3 defenses were in harm’s way. The over shift could shift linemen to the strong side if the destination was thought to be heading in that direction, or a defense could easily shift the Mike and linemen locations favoring the weakside area by sliding to the under version.

Many successful programs have used the 4-3 Over defense. Regardless, most programs have scrapped the basic old style 4-3 base in favor of the over or under versions. Offenses have evolved; it is tougher to shut offenses down, due to changes in scheme and high-level offensive talent. Defenses have used the over and under 4-3 versions to somewhat “hedge” against the offenses most likely objective.

If a defense plans on stopping some of the high-octane offenses that attack the edge, there had better be a group of outside linebackers and ends that have reasonable speed, strength, and the ability to play in space. In the 4-3 Over only the middle linebacker needs to be the traditional stud linebacker of the past. The outside linebackers must tackle well and can be kept on the same side of the field or flipped. Of course, this is easy to lay out in theory and difficult to translate to the field. This may also help to explain some of Coach Mattison’s recruitment ventures the last three years.

Aug 31, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Central Michigan Chippewas running back Zurlon Tipton (34) and Michigan Wolverines linebacker James Ross III (15) reach for the ball in the first quarter at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

So, speed is imperative, and with the proliferation of spread and edge/flank attack offenses it will remain a priority. Some programs take safeties and make them linebackers, take linebackers and make them defensive ends, and take defensive ends and make them into defensive tackles, all in the name of speed. Michigan appears to be doing the latter as some of the ends are becoming tackles

One position in the 4-3 Over variation that cannot be hybridized is the middle linebacker. In this defense, the Mike must be a true old-style tough football player, a true linebacker type that can help to control the bubble that results from an uncovered area in the area between the weakside 3-technique-defensive tackle and the nose tackle. However, the Sam and the Will as stated can be flipped, so that the stronger linebacker can also be in this vulnerable area.

Next up will be a look at the personnel that will make up the Team 135 Michigan defense, one that is still under construction, and one that will have some high level competition for starting spots. Depth is a good thing.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu

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