How would the 3-4 work? And will the Chiefs affect GT?

I wrote this on Sunday, but then some news started popping up and it got buried in cyberspace. Since it’s my blog (or our blog, Carroll) I’m going to go all Dr. Frankenstein and resurrect it:

For the sake of fun, let’s assume that Al Groh is hired as Tech’s defensive coordinator and  installs a 3-4 scheme. Note: Romeo Crennel’s decision to go to Kansas City as defensive coordinator could further improve the odds of Groh taking the same job in Miami. Crennel was rumored to be up for the Dolphins’ job, as well.

Anyway, onto the subject at hand.

Who would fit where?

Because we’re doing this as a fun exericse, we will assume that all the injured players are healthy and can play by the fall, so Hall, Anderson, Taylor, Jackson, etc. are back.

All formations can be run differently, but in most 3-4s the defensive linemen are responsible for two gaps, compared to the one gaps that the linemen in the 4-3 are responsible for.

The linemen are usually bigger because they are there to get a push into the backfield, disrupt the blocking schemes and to take up blockers and space so that the linebackers and safeties can make plays.

So, who would start on the line in Tech’s 3-4? If bigger is the model, some combination of T.J. Barnes, J.C. Lanier, Jason Peters, and Ben Anderson would seem like a natural rotation. Izaan Cross, Robert Hall and Logan Walls, who weigh less than the others, would be in the scheme, as well though in different roles, I would imagine. There’s really not a bonafide pass rusher in that group, though. But, that’s mostly OK because the linebackers are there for that.

Nose tackle is the key. the player has to be huge and active to control the gaps on either side of the center. Would that be Anderson? He’s not as big as Barnes or Lanier, so I’m not sure. He is strong at the point of attack, though. Barnes and Lanier could both be used, similar to how Baltimore used their Ticonderaga-class tackles a few years ago. Those guys took up four blockers by themselves. Doing so would give Tech a numerical advantage. If two guys take up four blockers, that leaves 9 guys to worry about 7 guys. It’s kind of like what Tech’s offense does with its schemes, just in reverse.

In passing situations, Anthony Egbuniwe and Emmanuel Dieke could come in to rush the passer.

Tech’s linebackers would seem to be the strength of the defense next season, with Julian Burnett, Brad Jefferson, Kyle Jackson, Steven Sylvester, Malcolm Munroe and Mario Edwards (who played safety this season) back. All are quick and can move sideline to sideline. Sylvester, in particular, really showed what he could do in the Orange Bowl. It’s not beyond possibility that Egbuniwe and Dieke could play some lb in certain situations.

Anyway, all that’s just fun conjecture.  Tell me how you think they’d line up.

33 comments Add your comment


January 13th, 2010
2:17 pm


January 13th, 2010
2:24 pm

Sorry for a lack of knowledge here, but are there any other programs running a 3-4 that we could comapre to?


January 13th, 2010
2:24 pm

Sorry for a lack of knowledge here, but are there any other programs running a 3-4 that we could compare to?


January 13th, 2010
2:29 pm

(technically 3rd?)


January 13th, 2010
2:32 pm

My problem is that the D-line seemed undersized to begin with this year. You are saying this scheme requires larger players up front, which we never seem to have in depth on either side of the ball. I’m afraid people will run all over us more, especially once we get more of their O-linemen on our undersized linebackers, we will be in big trouble.

GT Anchorage

January 13th, 2010
2:32 pm

This is a kind of obvious answer and I don’t mean to sound condescending, but Virginia from this past year is a good team to look at (since Groh was the head coach). They had a great defense with a huge line. I think that Groh would make an immediate impact if he joined. It would give us a good defense to complement our offense.

The only problem is that it will be hard for the defense to play well consistently because they are facing the option offense everyday in practice. I think that is what we saw this year, but if we could give up less than 25 pts a game that would be great


January 13th, 2010
2:39 pm

Actually I suspect that Groh is now going to the Dolphins, so this 3/4 deal may be a moot point, but…

For it to work, you need 300+ pounders on the D-line (absolute necessity at NT) and very active, speedy outside linebackers on both sides.

Look at DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer of the Cowboys – both can turn the corner against most OT and cause havoc in the backfield.

What I hope CPJ keeps in mind if they go this route is to beef up not only to handle the ACC, but also the SEC. That should be his goal.

What good does it do to dominate the ACC and lose to UGA?

All that will accomplish is to get the fan base and the boosters so restless that they will start demanding change.

More importantly, any dreams of National championship aspirations must include beating the top SEC team, and to do that, you need “meat”!

Midstate Jacket Fan

January 13th, 2010
2:44 pm

If we ran a 3-4 I could invision on obvious run plays loading the line with Lanier, Barnes, and Anderson; then bring in guys like Egbuniwe and Dieke to play inside linebacker with Jefferson and Jackson on the outside. Sounds like a stone wall to me.

If nothing else; it would complement our offense in that it is something different or unusual [atleast in CFB] for other teams to prepare for.

BHam jacket

January 13th, 2010
2:47 pm

This is all BS conjecture anyway!
Wait until we get a Defensive Coach!

21 TECH FAN 21

January 13th, 2010
2:48 pm

I think barnes needs to improve a great deal after what I saw this season. I saw him get almost get knocked over by several RB’s.

However, I agree with Barnes, Lanier, Peters, but I would take Izaan Cross over Ben anderson..Ben played well against Duke..Who? Duke..He didn’t even play that well. The gap was wide open for all of his sacks.

What do you think about freshman Denzel McCoy? I think he could get great playing time.

Now for the linebackers..Julian Burnett, Brad Jefferson, Kyle Jackson..I agree with…Sylvester and Munroe are great choices too.

I think cooper and Sweeting will start. Also..I think Jerrad and freshman Ryan Ayers is gonna be starting for sure. He is going to be a great play maker.

What do you think about the offensive side with freshman Charles Perkins? His stock went up alot..He is on the ajc as top 5 players now I believe!!


January 13th, 2010
2:50 pm

In response to the size issue it will not be much of a problem. We have undersized DT’s right now, 280lb to 290. In the 3-4 scheme the two DE’s operate much more like tackles because their job is to take up space and control gaps, instead of rushing the paser. Guys like Anderson and Peters will move to DE in the 3-4. Our current DEs may get a look, but because of their lack of size don’t be surprised if they are moved to OLB. The biggest key in a 3-4 is to have a beast at Nose Tackle. The bigger the better, but he has to be in control of his body to influence the line of scrimmage. TJ Barnes and JC Lanier are the only two guys on our roster who really fit the bill. From what I’ve seen of Barnes he lacks the intensity and motor to start at NT. Lanier was our top-ranked recruit of 2009 and redshirted this year.
And so our lack of size does not affect us because undersized players are simply downgraded a position. However, the 3-4 requires a dominant NT and I don’t think Paul Johnson would consider switching to it if he wasn’t confident someone could play that position.
Our depth at linebacker will be further reinforced by moving some DEs. Brad Jefferson will probably hold down one ILB spot and the rest will basically be open tryouts. Mario Edwards does not have the size to play LB, 220 is really a cut off point for a LB in the 3-4.
I would be very excited to see us switch to the 3-4 as it could fix some of the problems we have on defense, like rushing the passer.

Been There

January 13th, 2010
3:10 pm

We played 3-4 under Pepper Rodgers. As always Tech had speed linebackers. Side to side and against the pass we played well. The biggest issue is not NT but large down hill inside linebackers. One tackle no matter his size or ability can only do so much. It then comes down to a Guard on a Linebacker man to man and the O still might have a Fullback for clean-up duty before the ballcarrier. Thus the old 3-4 or really an Oklahoma 5-2 modified for better pass defense became the current D which is a K-State/Miami speed 4-3 where 2 tackles occupy the Guard-Center-Guard and speed at linebacker both inside and out allow them range to make plays and cover off tackle when a wide set crashing DE is used for pressure.The issue then is whether on a year end to year out basis Tech can recruit undersized speed at linebacker or large physical run stuffing linebackers.

RE: other teams that run the 3-4...

January 13th, 2010
3:11 pm

…see Exhibit # 1, which is also the current mythical National Champion – ALABAMA.

@ GT Anchorage

January 13th, 2010
3:12 pm

The first team defense faces the scout team offense in practice, not the first team offense. So you are incorrect in saying they face an option team everyday. The scout team mimicks the opposing teams offense.

Hey, GT Anchorage...

January 13th, 2010
3:18 pm

…evidently the cold is affecting your cerebral faculties! Yes, you face the scout team most of the time during the season, but in the learning process called spring practice and summer pre-season, you face your best vs your best, which means facing the option on offense all the rest of the time.

And, during the season, when you scrimmage full speed, it is still the #1 D vs. the second “O”, and that means still facing the GT/Paul Johnson option offense – and that is not necessarily a good thing for learning to defend other offenses at full speed!


January 13th, 2010
3:22 pm

“The scout team mimicks the opposing teams offense.”

That’s true. So if our defense is ill-prepared you could try to blame the walk-ons and freshmen that comprise the scout team, but every team does it that way. I think ours is probably just fine.

Don’t know how I managed to miss Bama running the 3-4! WOW…

Sorry, that should be addressed to @GT Anchorage...

January 13th, 2010
3:24 pm


January 13th, 2010
3:25 pm

At 6-4 335 jc lanier will be the answer to our problems for big men he is one big guy


January 13th, 2010
3:32 pm

I usually don’t have a very good idea of what I’m talking about, but especially on this one. Anyway….

My biggest gripe about 09’s D was that after Miami (I think), we heard “we have to simplify the scheme”. And after UGA and Clemson, “guys are in the wrong place”.

I don’t care what D-scheme Tech runs, so as long as the players know what it is and how to execute it.

Gripe #2 (and it may be because of gripe #1) is that Tech’s D didn’t appear to fool anyone. The base D got eaten up. Even when a blitz was on, Tech showed blitz, and sat there for 10 seconds while the QB audibled. There seemed to be very little disguised blitzes/coverages.

Am I wrong to think that you can hide your intentions better in a 3-4?

Been There

January 13th, 2010
3:37 pm

I believe Bama is a 4-3 but their alignment (over/under) is sometimes to place the DT over the C and move the other DT down to the Guard Tackle Gap. The DE then moves further outside and may or may not put his hand down giving a 3-4 first glance look to an over/under 4-3 alignment. Note also Bama may over/under toward or away from TE or wing/slot receiver dependent on down distance and O tendencies.

Hey, Been There...

January 13th, 2010
3:49 pm

…it is refreshing to read posts from someone who actually knows the difference between the old 5-2 (now the 3-4) and the over/under involving the DT/NT. You must be as old as me if you remember all that stuff and can still explain it!

I still remember the old “wide tackle 6″, which was a glorified 4-4. Once coaches realized that the LB’s were the ones that made the plays no matter where they lined up those defense just morphed into todays 4-3 and 3-4. Thanks for sharing some real knowledge!

Richard Scott

January 13th, 2010
3:50 pm

Enter your comments here

Ramblin Wrecker

January 13th, 2010
3:54 pm


Any reason Paul Johnson would not be interested in Tim DeRuyter of the Air Force Academy? I heard he might be on UGA’s radar and is interviewing at Texas A&M. Air Force was top ten in passing defense, points allowed per game and led the nation in turnover margin. They shut down Case Kenum and Houston in their bowl game.

I’d think that would be an interesting candidate. He’s shown some accomplishment and has done so in the same type of practice environment as he’d have at GT, where the offense runs the option just like Air Force.

Just saying.


January 13th, 2010
4:26 pm

Per the GT roster the largest DT that could go to Nose are Walls – 286,
Barnes – 347, Lanier – 335 & Keith 300 (invited walk on redshirt fr).
All other DT are under 280. But it is not size, it is ability to play the position. A lot of Nose tackle types have been the 280 type, but very quick.

No coach will say we will not go to a 3-4 because we do not have a proven NT. They will coach someone up.

nebraska jacket

January 13th, 2010
4:43 pm

Not many college teams use the 3-4. Alabama, Cal, Washington and Al Groh’s UVA are the only that come to mind. However, the 3-4 is very successful. The NFL uses it a lot.

NFL teams with 3-4 coming to mind… Steelers, Ravens, Dolphins, Patriots, Jets, Browns, Chargers, Cowboys, 49ers, Chiefs, Rams. Probably more than this but that’s all I can think of.


January 13th, 2010
4:57 pm

Seeing the option offense and cut blocks in spring ball might not be as bad as you make it out to be.

Navy DE Jabaree Tuani shows perfect form shedding this Notre Dame OT’s cut block, blows up the play, and sacks Clausen late in Navy’s upset this year.

Beating cut blocks is also a useful skill for pass rushers going up against running backs in pass pro.

Tokyo jacket

January 13th, 2010
5:21 pm

Comment 1 on the 3-4: It will take a lot of time from the HC of the opposing team to prepare for it. Thus, there will be some loss of focus on the spread option. That would, in effect, make our offense better by stealing preparation time.

Comment 2 on the 3-4: Barnes or Lanier would likely be the NT. You do need big size there. Peters would move back to DE and Anderson at times too for that matter. I’m a Dolphins fan. They make a lot of adjustments based on the situation. In short yardage situations, they’d have 3 of their DT types up front. So, we’d be looking at Anderson – Barnes – Lanier. In obvious passing situations, they put the DE types at the ends. So, we’d be looking at something like Hall – Peters – Cross.

I think at least one of our DEs would move to OLB, probably Dieke. He’d make an interesting case since he has the almost exact same build as the Dolphins’ Jason Taylor. He would be freaky coming off the edge.

PS I think this defensive change has been in the works for a while. I don’t think Wommack was out in the cold. I think he let CPJ know mid-season that he was going to quit. Read the article at and you might think that. Plus, before the UGA game, rumors started flying around that we’d be recruiting a particular 6′7″ 230 lb DE in high school to play LB at Tech. Or, it could all be coincidence…

Doug Roberson

January 13th, 2010
5:30 pm

There is no truth to that Wommack rumor.

Tokyo jacket

January 13th, 2010
5:38 pm

Doug, the one I said? On he said he’d been weighing it for several days and thinks God wants him to coach high school football. At the least, it’s an interesting coincidence.


January 13th, 2010
5:38 pm

I agree with the person who said this is all conjecture and a waste of time at this point….especially about Groh. I haven’t Johnson divulge the name of any of the finalists for the position. All we know is that Groh and Johnson has had preliminary talks. That’s it PERIOD.

In his talk to the media today he said 2 things re: the DC. First thing is they must get results and he doesn’t give a crap whether they run a 3-4, 4-3 or use an 8 man front. Second, the person must blend w/ the rest of the staff and not create any internal problems (like GT had with Tenuta for example).

Bradely jumped the gun this past weekend with the article about Groh getting an offer and the such. Trying to speculate is all fun and all but Johnson is handling this the right way as opposed to the amatuer over at the Septic Tank who lets the search play out in the media.


January 13th, 2010
11:24 pm

While part of Tech’s defensive problems this year were scheme related, the bigger problem was playing guys out of position. Cooper Taylor is a free safety but was playing linebacker early in the season. Jason Peters who is a defensive end was playing DT. Jerrard Terrant is a safety who was playing cornerback. Anderson is more of a strong side d end was playing DT. Anthony Barnes who was a solid starting linebacker in 08 hardly played at all. It seemed like Wommack wasn’t putting the right guys is the right positions. He was trying to fit square pegs in round holes all year long and it didn’t work. There is plenty of defensive talent on our roster to successfully run a 4-3 or a 3-4. They just need to put guys in their natural positions and let them make plays.

Hopefully the infatuation with playing smaller lineman on the Dline and Oline is over. We’ve seen what happens when we face bigger lines (Miami, Ga, Iowa, LSU). We’ve got the size on our roster to compete with these teams, we just need to use them (Barnes, Lanier, Uzzi, Claytor, Smith, McRae, Foster). You’ve got to be able to block the guy in front of you before you can worry about the linebacker or db downfield. And defensively, we weren’t making contact with the other teams ball carrier until he was three or four yards past the line of scrimmage. Somebody has got to be able to hold their ground at the line.

Doug really.............?

January 17th, 2010
7:52 pm

Can anyone honestly take Roberson seriously. Egbuniwe and Dieke as LB. Not a chance. Send me an email and I’ll make that bet. You name the odds. As for size, Walls weighed in at 305 at the Orange Bowl, which means he weighs more than Peters and Anderson…by 30 lbs. How about Luke Cox as LB…guarantee you wouldn’t think of that. It is obvious to anyone that plays football he would excel at that position. He has the size, speed, and football smarts to get the job done. Walls started every game since Miami and if you noticed started at DT for the 3 man front in the ACC Championship game. Guess Doug doesn’t watch any of the games and from what he writes doesn’t even seem to understand football. FYI – Those who have never played football shouldn’t write about it.

trey jacket for life

January 17th, 2010
8:04 pm

Luke Cox as an LB would be a solid fill for the 3-4. And as for walls, he def has the size and ability to fill the middle and hold down the d line.