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 /
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The Benefits of a 4-3 Defense – Part 3

As you’ll begin to notice through my work I am very concerned with size. I believe you can build a team and have size exceptions, (see Deon Hollins) but you cannot have a team or unit of exceptions. UCLA is not a small football team by any stretch of the imagination but without a true NT and true 5-technique defensive ends, the Bruins were playing out of position. They were pushed around in the run game and struggled to create pressure.

UCLA Bruins
UCLA Bruins /

UCLA Bruins

What they do have on their roster are defensive tackles and defensive ends. They have defensive ends like Keisean Lucier-South, who has reportedly bulked up to 230lbs to go along with his lightning speed, and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner who can beat you with his technique and strength.

The Bruins will get back Vanderdoes to be a disruptive force at defensive tackle and will get Boss Tagaloa in the fall to form an extremely stout middle of the defense line. A stout middle means running won’t be as easy and having four guys that close to the ball when it’s snapped means there should be a greater opportunities at getting sacks.

UCLA’s linebackers are better fits for the 4-3 because of their traditional skill sets combined with outstanding athleticism. Guys like Josh Woods, Isaako Savaiinaea, Jayon Brown, and Kenny Young are all strong players but will be at their best when they are protected from offensive linemen and are free to flow to the ball. That freedom means they should be able to diagnose plays earlier, digest what they see faster and be in position to make the play before it gets going instead of reacting late and getting lost in the wash.

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