Is the 3-4 Defense in the Gophers' Future?

There have been rumors swirling about the scheme the Gophers will employ on the defensive side of the ball. With the arrival of Ted Roof in 2008, the Gophers have been mixing 3-4 sets into the defensive formations. Will we see coach Cosgrove move to a base 3-4 in the future?

Kevin Cosgrove led some pretty good blackshirts in his tenure at Nebraska. In 2005 and 2006 his defense was stout against the pass and could score when needed. Unfortunately, Cosgrove will be remembered as the defensive coordinator at the helm of the 2007 Husker defense that gave up 606 yards to Missouri and 76 points to Kansas and saw the self-imposed suspension of the blackshirts. Cosgrove left football after that 2007 season and wasn't seen again until being hired by Coach Brewster in 2009.

Some say he spent that time in the lab with his pen in the pad working on answers to the tide of the "Spread Offense". The 3-3-5 defense he ran at Nebraska, that Chase Daniels called "high school stuff", has yet to appear at Minnesota. In fact, Minnesota remains a 4-3 defense and has even mixed in some 3-4 under Cosgrove.

With Minnesota stocking up on linebackers and defensive end/linebacker hybrids, as well as the suddenly super-sized gopher defense line, is it possible that Cosgrove saw the future of college defense and that future was the 3-4?

The Gophers have the massive defensive tackles and ends that it takes to implement a 'Bullough' type 3-4 defense. Guys like 350 pound Jewhan Edwards along with true freshmen Harold Legania and Sean Furguson--both already 300+ pounds, could be the stout 2-gap nose tackles needed for the 3-4. When you look at the defensive ends you see guys like Ra'Shede Hageman and Kendall Gregory-McGhee both over 275 pounds along with tackles Brandon Kirksey and Anthony Jacobs--both uber-athletic for their size and capable of playing end, it is clear the Gophers have the stout defensive ends needed to plug holes. Then consider guys like Garin and Wilhite, both guys who are athletic enough play out of either the two or three point stance as outside linebackers in a 3-4 defense.

Coming in with the 2011 class are four linebackers as well as two guys (Peter Westerhaus and Sam Rohr) who could end up as linebackers. In this class are guys like Quinn Bauducco who could develop into that prototypical outside linebacker who can set up on the line and rush the passer or drop back and cover a tight end. Whether the other three linebackers end up as run stuffers or pass defenders will come with time.

It certainly seems as though the NFL game is gravitating toward the 3-4. Perhaps we are seeing the Gophers stocking up on the personnel needed to make the transition to the 3-4. One thing is certain, until it happens, expect the Gopher coaches to stay tight-lipped about it to preserve the element of surprise. Be sure to keep your eye on the Gopher defense in Murfreesboro on September 2nd and pay attention when the Gophers line up in the 3-4, you may be looking at the future of Golden Gopher defense.

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