The change to the 3-4 has brought about a chance for some players who got lost in the shuffle under the old defense. Some of these players may now have a better chance to show off their athletic ability. "It has created some opportunity for some players," said Groh. "We told the players there could be some getting a lot more time than they got in the past and there could possibly be some that see their PT reduced."
The staff grades every player on every play every day. There is nothing subjective about it. "We're able to make an evaluation of the player's development on a day to day, practice to practice basis." The coaches are letting the player grade himself and are going on what they see. If the player is doing his job with energy and toughness, that is a positive in Coach Groh's eyes.
One of the players that are taking advantage of the new opportunity is Albert Rocker. Rocker played most of last season as an undersized defensive end. "I think I fit the 3-4 a lot better than when I was at defensive end." The move has given Rocker a fresh start and a chance to show his athletic ability. "It's given me a lot of motivation. Rocker is making the plays out there now and is doing the little things to get on the field. "I'm in the film room after practice to get everything down so when I play I can let it all loose."
Brandon Watts and Steven Sylvester are two of the inside backers that have gotten some attention this spring. "Both of them have the skills to play the position," said Groh. "There's a lot more communication involved for that position than for most others so that carries a lot of burden for them." That burden tends to slowed down their progress in terms of what to do.
Brad Jefferson returns in the middle and seems suited for the new defense. "He's performed very nicely to this point, said Groh. "Football seems to make perfect sense to him and he learns not just from day to day but from play to play." The progress of Jefferson has been among the more notable to Groh.
Two weeks in to the spring Coach Groh has some ideas about the depth chart. "I'm getting some ideas but I'm keeping my opinions to myself," said Groh. "There are some players whose development is going to be a little faster than others and we want to give those that take a little longer an opportunity."
Coach Groh and the staff are looking for a starting point going into pre-season camp. Players have to prove themselves every day so there is a starting point every day. "In terms of having anything definitive set, we're going to let it run a little while longer and see how that works."