Georgia to use 3-4 Defense: Let’s Explain It

Prior to the season Georgia hired Todd Grantham to replace Willie Martinez as defensive coordinator.  Martinez, like most of the SEC and college football in general, ran a 4-3 base defense.  Todd Grantham has changed the Bulldog defense to a 3-4 base defense.  There has been plenty written about it and lots of speculation about what it will mean for the season.  Below we look at some of the common questions fans have about the defense.

First, what is a 3-4 base defense? Most, though not all, defenses are referred to by the number of defensive linemen and linebackers they have in their base set.  The number of linemen comes first and the number of linebackers second.  Thus, Georgia’s base defense has three linemen and four linebackers.  This is different from most college defenses that have four linemen and three linebackers.

What do you mean base defense? Georgia won’t line up with three linemen and four linebackers every down, but that is their standard defense that they will create variations on.  They will have nickel (5 defensive backs) and dime (6 defensive backs) along with several other personnel groupings.

I watched Georgia last week, sometimes they had more than three men on the line.  Is that still the 3-4? Maybe.  It depends on personnel.  If there are four defensive linemen, then it will probably be a different defense.  If there are three defensive linemen and a linebacker, then its probably a 3-4 in a different look.  This is an alignment you will see; Grantham likes to walk his outside linebackers up on the line fairly often.

How are we going to block this front? Most of our running plays use a zone blocking scheme.  If you read Flounder’s post last week, you know that zone blocking means each blocker blocks a specified area or zone.  Because of that, it is a very versatile and works against any front.  So, in short, the same as we would block any other front.

What about the passing game, willl that be pretty much the same? Yes and no, 3 points.

1. Pass blocking will be about the same.  It is always a question of getting bodies on rushers coming up field regardless of where they come from.

2. Blitzes can come from more areas in a 3-4.  Blitzes come from linebackers or defensive backs.  There are more linebackers in this scheme, so there are more places they can come from.  This will be difficult for the linemen and the quarterback.  Garcia will have to be aware of the different alignment and pay attention to the differences.

3. Coverages will be a little different.  Most linebackers fall into a hook zone about 10-15 yards off the line.  In this defense that will probably be true of the inside linebackers.  It may be true of the outside linebackers, but because of their alignment, they could also move to the flats.  This can cause trouble for slants and hitch patterns, so it will be something else Garcia will have to adjust to.

Do you have other questions?  Let us know in the comments.

Billy Koehler

About Billy Koehler

Billy Koehler writes for Leftoverhotdog. He has won no major or minor awards for his writing, but he was named Time's Man of the Year in 2006.