That was good when he had Jeremy Caudill and Sweet Pea Burns on the defensive line. They still weren't stonewalling offenses week in and week out in the SEC.
Coach Archer said it wasn't until the dismissal from the team of Deion Holt, the big linebacker from Bowling Green, that he started to realize that they weren't equipped to run the 3-4 defense. When he didn't have that big body coming off the edge on the strong side, it put more pressure on the defensive ends. It's rare that a coach will lament the loss of a player due to suspension or dismissal. In this case, it's especially rare sense Holt and Archer seemed to always be at odds the each other.
The coach has gradually arrived at the 4-3 as their base defense. It was at about the halfway mark of last season that the defensive staff started to make the transition. After a succession of years of unproductive run stopping, Archer feels a sense of urgency. Throughout spring practice, it's not hard to see the offense getting better but the defense…
There are advantages to the 3-4 in terms of the unpredictability of where the pass rush is coming from. On the other hand: "With four down linemen," coach Brooks explained, "obviously it is a lot easier to predict where the pass rush is coming from. But when you mix in the zone-dog out of that and dropping a lineman and blitzing a linebacker or two linebackers, you create some of the same problems.
"So we will rob Peter to pay Paul but the other side of that is we should be more stout in stopping the run."
Whether that is getting accomplished, without the benefit is the practice films, it is difficult to tell. When practicing against yourself, the pendulum swings back and forth. When the offense does well, the defense is unhappy and when the defense does well, the offense is agitated.
The 4-3 defense allows the defensive ends to play a more natural position. In the 3-4 the ends were in the 3-technique taking on double team blocks from the big nasties on the inside. Now they are in the 5-technique where they can use their speed on the OT.
"The biggest difference for me is I don't have to worry about keeping the quarterback in a certain position," said Durrell White who is making the transition from linebacker to defensive end. I don't have to cover the 4.4, 4.3 guy. I'm more in my comfort zone.
Mike Archer was not a happy camper after the defense got whipped in the second major scrimmage of the spring.