May 2, 2012

Chalk Talk, monster post-spring edition

Each week during the football season, former Tennessee assistant coach Doug Mathews joins us to share his thoughts on the Vols. Join The Coach each Saturday morning at 9 a.m. EST for a Big Orange-slanted look at the day's action on Forklift Systems Football Saturday, and again each Sunday morning at 9 a.m. E.S.T. for Big Orange Sunday, presented by Superior Seed & Supply on WGFX FM, 104.5 in Nashville, for a look each week at the state of Tennessee football, what just happened, and what lies ahead.

With spring practice behind us, the biggest subject heading into the offseason is probably the continued adjustment to the 3-4 on the defensive side. Can you get a little technical and talk about some of the specific things players are getting used to on that side of the ball as many of them shift into new roles?

One of the first things that the players are dealing with is just the simple change of terminology. There may have been a little carry over, but for the most part the first thing you have to learn is a new way of communication.

As far as the players who are affected the most, it's primarily everyone in the front seven. I know they're playing a different style in the secondary, certainly it seems like they want to be more aggressive, but the job description won't change a lot for a defensive back. Things might be different in the nickel packages or when a safety is coming up to get involved in the run game. Up front though things will be much different in 3-4.

It's oversimplifying it some, but up front now you essentially have three 'tackle-types' where as in the 4-3 you have two tackles. Taking a man off that front changes the body types you have to have. In a 4-3 you can get away with an undersized guy at end, a Leonard Little for instance. In a 3-4, having some bulk at the end spots becomes much more of a priority.

A real key, and something that Tennessee's players are making the adjustment to, are making the required reads to play in this scheme.

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