UCLA's New 3-4 Defense and Its Projected Starters

Christopher NicholasContributor IIIJanuary 19, 2012

UCLA's New 3-4 Defense and Its Projected Starters

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    This offseason UCLA made what many call a questionable move by hiring Jim Mora. I personally like the hire, mainly because he will bring a "Nick Saban" style of pro to the collegiate game.

    That's what brought teams like USC to prominence with Pete Carroll. Lord knows that Jim Mora can't do worse than his predecessor, right? 

New Defensive Coordinator

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    Lou Spanos was due for a coordinating job, although he may be more suited for the NFL, where all of his experience is.

    His main job will be dumbing down a complicated defense so incoming freshmen can compete right away and possibly overtake some upperclassmen. 

Why It's a Good Idea

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    Pressure.

    It's the name of the game. If UCLA can get it, they will succeed. They will be able to wreak havoc in opponents' backfields.

    Just look at Spanos' resume and the fine linebackers he has groomed. As long as he dials up blitzes and confuses the quarterback, he should be able to bring some respect to UCLA.

D Line

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    The focal point of the defense should be building a defensive line that will keep the offensive line from getting out into space and to the next level. These big bodies need to be stout and unmovable.

    If Ellis McCarthy stays committed to UCLA, he should see some time across the line. One thing positive is that UCLA has three veteran players who should start and be able to maintain gaps.

    DE- Dantone Jones (Sr.) 

    NT- Cassius Marsh (Jr.)

    DE- Damien Holmes (Sr)

Linebacker

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    Just like Stanford, UCLA will probably move one of its thin framed defensive ends to the Joker linebacker spot which is essentially a stand up defensive end. The video above is a demonstration of what Spanos has done. 

    JOKER- Owamagbe Odighizuwa (So.)

    WILL- Isaiah Bowens (Jr.)

    MIKE- Patrick Larimore (Sr.)

    SAM- Jordan Zumwait (Jr.)

Secondary

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    A 3-4 can allow playmakers, like Troy Polamalu, to roam and destroy. If UCLA ever gets a decent DB they may see why the 3-4 works so well. UCLA has three returning starters that should make up for learning a new playbook. 

    CB- Aaron Hester (Sr.)

    CB- Sheldon Price (Sr.)

    FS- Stan McKay (Jr)  

    SS- Dietrich Riley (Jr.)

Pressure on the Competition

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    Look how easily pressure was put on Kurt Warner and the Cardinals in this Super Bowl. UCLA needs to put pressure on its opponents with creative blitzes and Spanos is the man who certainly learned from one of the best.

    He learned from Dick Lebeau how to pressure quarterbacks and gave Lebeau linebackers like James Harrison and Kevin Greene. USC will often go with one running back and a blitz like this will surely wreak havoc on Matt Barkley.

    That should be the sweetest part of this defense.