3-Man Front vs. 4-man Front
Written by one of our postersDieHard5661
Just because it is coming up again, I wanted a separate thread to clear up the confusion about 3 and 4 man fronts.
1) Michigan has always played both 3 and 4 man fronts under Don Brown.
2) Michigan “switching” to a 3 man front doesn’t actually require them adding anything new to their install, it is more about switching which of their packages they run more frequently.
3) Michigan would 100% remain a one-gap defense regardless of how frequently they ran a 3 man look.
So here is the thing about one-gap 3 man fronts:
They require ends that are longer and sizier than the open-side/weakside ends that pure 4-3 teams utilize. Unlike traditional 3 man fronts that two-gap their players, these guys are NOT typically behemoths, nor do they need to be. They need to be athletes.
Think Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton
Wormley, in this look, would have the height and length to tie up offensive tackles from the 4i spot in the spread run game (inside shade of the tackle). The 4i is how most teams have countered the spread run game. Wormley and Charlton would have similar responsibilities with Wormley probably being asked to spin inside to 3 tech on obvious passing downs when they want to walk up a Strongside, or Jack, linebacker. (don’t worry so much about the nomenclature). Charlton is another great fit because his size and length would be a nightmare for a tackle and if a motion makes him the anchor, he is stout enough.
The nose doesn’t have to be a behemoth either. The nose aligns in a zero technique which makes double teaming him really tricky. If you have an ultra-quick nose that can win 1v1 matchups against your opposing team’s center, like Mo Hurst, you don’t have to worry about giving up size for speed.
This is very much a hybrid defense and has become more-and-more popular as 11 and 10 personnel becomes more the norm.
It’s mainly about getting more speed on the field and being able to better disguise your looks. My guess is Khaleke Hudson is going to be a free hitter often and there is going to be more umbrella coverage here.
This is all speculation based on the fact that Michigan seems to be recruiting so many of these hybrid types at end and linebacker
I don’t think it’s necessarily better or worse than what they currently run-it just has different strengths and weaknesses.
It, of course, comes down to talent and recruiting though. Would anyone be worried about stopping the run with a 3 man front of Wormley, Glasgow, and Charlton with someone like Shawn Crable or LaMarr Woodley playing outside linebacker?
Now we just don’t have that type of talent up front right now, unfortunately. But with the current talent we have, Michigan might be better off with Uche and Danna moving around, creating chaos, than they are with trying to get pressure with a straight four man rush. If they had Clemson’s talent, or even Ohio State’s, that would be another story. But they don’t.
Obviously there is a lot more to this, but I just wanted to get the discussion started for anyone interested