How To Fix Al Groh’s 3-4 Defense

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Al Groh needs to unleash the potential of his 3-4 defense.

Before I turn to the “Outlook” posts on the defensive units, I realize that the discussions about the DL and LB units are only going to beg the question: “Should we being using the 3-4?” Of course, that may be the favorite question to debate on the Edge message board, and perhaps an article about whether one should put hot dogs or bacon into baked beans also would beg the 3-4 question on the Edge message board. But I digress.

As many readers of the boards know, I am not a fan of the 3-4 defense, and I would not run it myself or at UVa. But setting that aside, I also do not believe that the 3-4 defense is one that cannot succeed at the college level. Further, I do not believe that those two positions are mutually exclusive. In fact, there are several systems, both offensive and defensive, that I might not employ but nonetheless can appreciate. The 3-4 falls into that middle ground for me.

So instead of just criticizing coach Al Groh’s 3-4, I decided that I would step up to the plate and offer my suggestions for how to fix it, accepting for the moment that this means I fall within the 62,000 fans that have not spent 100 hours on the week’s gameplan and whose opinions thus are not requested and not required (no, Coach Groh, that was not one of your best quotes). And by “fix”, I do not mean that Groh needs to take his system through a 12-step program. In fact, I think I can get him there with only a third of the work. So, without further ado, here is JHoo’s Four Step Program for fixing Al Groh’s 3-4 defense at Virginia.

Step One: Speed

This is really a step that applies to two parts of the process – who you recruit and where you slot the players once they enter the program. I also could title Step One as “Do Not Play The 3-4 With DEs as LBs.” But I thought that “Speed” was a little less obnoxious.

I have always felt that the 3-4 is – and has to be – a “speed” defense. Now, I admit that I prefer just about