UCLA Football: The Benefits of Shifting to the 4-3 Defense

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
2 of 4
"Sep /

The Benefits of a 4-3 Defense – Part 2

The linebackers are as follows, strong side linebacker, middle linebacker and weak side linebacker. The strong side linebacker usually lines up across from the tight end and while he is asked to drop into coverage, he is also a strong blitzer. The middle backer is a strong run defender playing inside the tackle box but can be deployed in deep zone coverage and often matches up with the opponents running backs. The weak side backer is billed as a run and chase backer who often needs to be protected by his defensive line. He is also the fastest of the backers.

The defensive backs are two corners and a two safeties and unless the scheme dictates otherwise, they are either in zone or man coverage.

For a little fun here is my perfect 4-3 alignment of the front seven for the Bruins from the past 10 years.

More from Go Joe Bruin


Datone Jones


Brian Price


Kenny Clark


Bruce Davis


Anthony Barr


Erick Kendricks


Sean Westgate

Now that we are past all of the basics, we should discuss why the 4-3 is the best bet for the Bruins. In the past few signing classes UCLA has brought on a number of athletes and while they all contribute flexibility for this front seven, they haven’t been able to sign the number one priority for a 3-4 defense in my mind and that is a true nose tackle.

Last year Kenny Clark was a strong NT when the Bruins deployed in the odd front defense but in my opinion was much more active and dominate when he has a strong running mate at defensive tackle. UCLA went to the 3-4 defense in order to feature players like Anthony Barr, Erick Kendricks and even Aaron Wallace.

However they never really replaced guys like Barr or Kendricks and while Myles Jack and Eddie Vanderdoes are excellent players, their injuries exposed both depth and scheme issues.

Next: The Benefits of a 4-3 Defense - Part 3