TIREY: A new defense for Archer, part one

Archer was very anxious to see his team in pads for the first time, as the first couple of practices this spring were in shorts. Why, do you ask? "Because things change," said the defensive specialist, "when you put pads on." Read pert one of Jim Tirey's story on Mike Archer s defensive strategy.

The defensive coordinator for the University of Kentucky football squad has a tough enough job as it is, competing undermanned in the best football conference in the country, the Southeastern Conference.  But now Mike Archer has to teach his young players a new defense, as Kentucky switches from the 3-4, to the 4-3 as a base defense.  Add to that academic problems, and it would be enough to make a man want to go back to the NFL, which he almost did.  He discusses the switch on defense for UK, academics, and a whole lot more with us at Kentucky Sports Report. 

Archer was very anxious to see his team in pads for the first time, as the first couple of practices this spring were in shorts.   Why, do you ask?  “Because things change,” said the defensive specialist,  “when you put pads on.  I think the first days have been very productive.  I think our guys have had a great attitude.  We’re putting in a new defense, and the learning curve has been very, very good.  We started out, we gave them some new things, and then we added some things.  I was really pleased with the way they competed with each other, against the offense, etc, which is what you’re trying to get out of shorts.  We’re going to find out the ones that want to play in the SEC, because we do play the game in pads.  But after two days, we’re very pleased with what’s happened so far.” 

The switch to a new defense would make ordinary coaches tremble, but Archer sees a switch as a challenge.  Besides, Archer believes a switch to the 4-3 from the 3-4 is much easier than the reverse.  Plus, the Cats have been semi-transitioning throughout the past two years.  A big key for the Wildcats switching was, believe it or not, the loss of Deion Holts.  “We played the 3-4, two years ago, a lot,” said Archer.  “And then when Deion was not with us last year, as the year went on, as we struggled with the running game and trying to stop people in the running game, we were not physically able to match up people.   We went to the 4-3.  As we looked in the off-season, we were in a 4-3 front…almost 60% of the time last year.  To the fans they wouldn’t have known that.  But we were subbing a defensive lineman a lot.  We were playing with three linebackers most of the time.”  The complete changeover this season, according to Archer, comes from studying the other SEC teams.  “What we’ve done in the off-season is, we’ve studied Auburn, we’ve studied Alabama and LSU, who are three of the top teams in our league, to try and get some new ideas and concepts.  We’ve tried to implement some of the things that they did.  That’s kind of what we’re trying to do, is to mix the three of them.  Auburn, obviously, was a tremendous defensive football team.  Alabama, until their bowl game, was number one in America stopping the run.  The number one thing we’ve got to do…we got to stop the run.  If we don’t do that, then the rest of the stuff doesn’t make a lot of difference.”   

Even though Mike Archer flirted with the idea of going back to the NFL, when he was interviewed this winter by the new staff of the Miami Dolphins, the league may still help him a little bit, through the “back door”, so to speak.  “When I went down to Miami and spent two days with them, you know Nick Saban is a pretty good defensive football coach.  They picked my brain, but I had an opportunity to pick their brain about what they do.  So it was good for both sides.” 

Jim Tirey returns on Wednesday with part two of this story.

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