A New Look for BYU's Outside Linebackers

Spring practice marked the first official work for BYU's defense in its new 3-4 alignment. The change came about because of the wealth of talent the Cougars have at the linebacker position with players like JC transfer Chris Bolden.

In a move to play to their strengths, BYU coaches scrapped the defensive back dominated 3-3-5 for a 3-4-4 scheme in which linebackers are the featured position. Adding another linebacker to the field means more opportunities and playing time for guys like Chris Bolden. With the increased opportunity, however, comes new assignments and increased responsibility.

"It's more blitzing and really about getting the linebackers to put pressure on the quarterbacks, and in those regards the responsibility really falls on us," Bolden said. "Last year in the secondary we had three backers and now it's a 3-4 with more of an emphasis on the two outside linebackers. It's now more of an emphasis for us on the outside to put that pressure on the quarterback, make those sacks happen and make the plays. In the 3-3-5 we did a lot of blitzing also, but that mostly came from the secondary. More of that responsibility now falls on the linebackers to make those plays."

The defensive philosophy switched to having two run stoppers in the middle with two speedy outside linebackers to contain the outside run, provide pressure on the blitz and cover the outside against the pass.

"We have more of a responsibility to cover on the outside too," Bolden said.

As a former safety at Riverside Community College, Bolden is accustomed to covering against the pass. Now a 6-foot-1, 230-pound chiseled linebacker, Bolden will bring the speed he used to cover wide receivers at the junior college level to his new role in which he will cover tight ends and backs.

"I bring speed from the outside," Bolden said. "I bring aggressiveness, toughness and strength to the outside linebacker position. Each linebacker brings a special uniqueness to the field, but I think I bring speed and toughness to the outside.

Today's scrimmages featured Bryan Kehl, Markell Staffieri, Cameron Jensen and Chris Bolden as the first team linebackers.

"Being on the outside you want more speed," said Bolden. "That's why me and Kehl are playing at the outside linebacker positions. The coaches want us to bring our speed to put pressure on the quarterbacks, make some sacks and get into the backfield to wreak havoc. There's no tiptoeing around as an outside linebacker."

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