3-4 Defense May Be Near for LSU

LSU coach Les Miles teased a Tiger move from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense Thursday while at SEC Media Days. How quickly could LSU, under new coordinator Kevin Steele, make the swap?

HOOVER, Ala. – The best teams in recent LSU history, particularly since the turn of the millennium, have possessed dominant defensive lines.

And throughout the John Chavis Era, the Tigers lined up in a base 4-3, utilizing edge rushers at defensive ends and explosive big men at the two defensive tackle positions.

Thursday, while at 2015 SEC Media Days, Les Miles addressed the persistent whispers that LSU is heading to a 3-4 base under Kevin Steele, Chavis' replacement and a big proponent of the three-man front throughout his stay in Tuscaloosa working for Nick Saban.

According to Miles, the shift may not be as much of a future plan (2016 and beyond) as many anticipated.

"I am not public with that, thanks," Miles said, responding to a question of if he's announced his defense's intentions. "But I think that certainly 3-4 will be a part of what we do, I just don't know to what extent. We have quality linebackers and really quality defensive linemen, so it's not a necessity as much as it is an advantage."

One of the biggest hurdles to jumping from one front to the other is a lack of depth at linebacker. Heading into the 2015 season LSU has only seven scholarship players at the position, and one of those guys, Devin Voorhies, is a converted safety experimenting at the position.

That would make playing four 'backers at a time awfully difficult. But, as Miles insinuated, some of those outside linebackers could be defensive backs in certain sets, perhaps like a Rickey Jefferson or Jamal Adams.

"You consider that you can play it with nickel and dime (personnel) and we have linebackers with speed like that that can play it," continued Miles on the 3-4 base.

No matter how LSU lines up, it remains to be seen how the Tigers will perform after moving on from Chief, the nation's top coordinator as the Frank Broyles Award winner in 2011.

"I think better is speculative," Miles explained. "I really don't know. I can tell you that we've had some really talented teams in the last seven years or so, and guys that have gone on to the NFL and played great. The idea that, if you look at the number of guys that we've had on our defense that were drafted -- simply put, we had eight players drafted in the 2013 NFL draft, all coming from the first five rounds.

"It's the only time in modern-day history that one school had eight defensive players taken in the first five rounds. We've had 24 defensive players since 2010, which ties the most in the SEC during that span. We've had at least one defensive lineman taken in every NFL draft for the last 12 years. Five defensive players selected in the first round since NFL draft since 2010. So our talent pool has been pretty special. What I'm saying is that we would expect that that talent would continue and that we would have great defense, period."

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