The junior linebacker from Peoria, Ill. said that IU fans will quickly be able to see the variety of things that the Hoosiers are able to do defensively out of the new look.
In the past, IU has always utilized a 4-3 defense. But new defensive coordinator Brian Knorr brought the 3-4 look with him from his last stop at Wake Forest.
“It’s a lot of the same type of concepts for the most part but it’s a lot different, too,’’ Mangieri said. “You guys will see it’s a lot of different. With a 3-4 you can do a lot more out of it. There are a lot more stunts and blitzes and pressures. You name it. You can just do way more out of it so it’s a lot of fun.’’
And specifically for Mangieri at one of the outside linebacker spots, it means his days in a three-point stance at the line of scrimmage are over.
“I’m standing up now as opposed to being in a three-point and I drop in coverage a lot more than I would have as a defensive end,’’ Mangieri said. “Those are the two main differences for me.’’
IU coach Kevin Wilson said it is a significant difference for a player not to have to get down in that stance.
“Most of those guys will tell you that they like it because it’s less stressful in terms of not having to bend over,’’ Wilson said. “But more than anything because he’s on the line of scrimmage it’s similar. I think sometimes when those guys back off the ball and now they’re playing as more of a true linebacker it’s awkward. You feel like a fish out of the water. A lot of times in certain deals he would be a pass dropper as a defensive end.
“So the dropping is easy for him. And a lot of these guys played basketball , like Nick, so he’s used to being on his feet. I don’t think he has to be a sprint or start guy. Nick was a flexed out tight end on his high school team and they’re not really hand in the dirt kind of guys so I think this has been pretty natural for him.’’
Mangieri said at first the change in defenses forced him to have to think a lot more on the field. But he feels most of those bugs were worked out in the spring.
“When you’re thinking out there you can’t really play to your potential,’’ Mangieri said. “Now I know all the schemes that we’ve gone over so far and really what it comes down to is seeing the offensive personnel and their formation, and then just reacting.
”I find I’m playing with a lot more confidence.’’
Wilson said said one of the keys to the 3-4 defense is having good people on the outside.
“You have to be good on the edge,’’ Wilson said. “You’ve got some one-on-one blocks, you’re part of coverage, you’re part of pass rush. You’ve got to have a lot of flexibility in what you’re doing.’’
Wilson said he believes Mangieri is a perfect fit for the new defense.
“Nick was a very athletic defensive end and so now what he is is like a big backer,’’ Wilson said. “There’s a uniqueness to that. I don’t know if anyone is ever the perfect body for any position but there’s a uniqueness to that positon. He has a uniqueness where he’s not a bad pass rusher and then he’s probably one of the more gifted athletes on our team as far as his ability to do some things.
“It’s a very athletic family. From his mom, his dad, and his three brothers, it’s a really athletic group. But Nick is probably one of the three or four best guys we have on the field in terms of how he works and how he practices. He really attacks. For a junior, he’s one of the guys we look to a lot.’’
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch