Your Best 11 Mailbag: 3-4 vs 4-3, Texas A&M Transition Plus Mike Leach's Shrine

Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterAugust 16, 2012

July 17, 2012; Hoover, AL, USA;  Texas A&M Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin speaks during the 2012 SEC media days event at the Wynfrey Hotel.   Mandatory Credit: Kelly Lambert-US PRESSWIRE
Kelly Lambert

It is Thursday, folks, and that means it's time for the mailbag. Football is creeping up on us, and that's a great thing. Training camp is in session. Coaches are getting excited for the season. Players are fighting for their positions. I can smell the grass in the air. Let's get to your questions!


@inthebleachers what future effects will Lane Kiffin giving up his vote have on the Coach's Poll

— Zodiac Fishgrease (@DonDelarente) August 16, 2012

I don't think he's going to have much in the way of effect. Earlier this week I mentioned that every coach should relinquish his vote; unfortunately I doubt that they will. I think our best bet is to hope that come 2014, when the selection committee is determining who plays for a title, the Coaches' Poll is done away with as a meaningless, archaic part of football. Let's all cross our fingers. 


@inthebleachers If Mike Leach gets Wazzu to a bowl game, is it ok to build shrines in his honor?

— Aesop Rocky™ (@NuDirtyBastard) August 16, 2012

Honestly, I don't think I'm the guy to answer this question. From my perspective, everyone else has done just about everything short of building a shrine to Leach—so why the heck not just make that final leap? He's everyone's favorite. They love his pirate act. He's such a great coach. He's the best.

Meh. If he gets Washington State to a bowl game, good for him. In my opinion, give him a crown when he actually wins something of note. A conference title. A BCS Bowl. A national title. You know, the way other people got their shrines.


@inthebleachers What do most players love the most and hate the most about fall camp?

— Patti Jones (@DrPattiJones) August 16, 2012

"Love the most" is a tough one so we'll do that last. "Hate the most" is where you're going to get a nice little cluster of popular answers. For some guys, it's the waking up early that gets them. For others, it's the endless meetings that carry on into the night and put you to sleep. Yet for others, it's the weightlifting, especially during one-a-day practices.

One universal answer that most guys hate: nothing to do. No going out. No cars. No break time. No girls. You're in the dorm or a hotel, and it's just you and the other members of the 105 in training camp. All the togetherness is nice, but good grief. After a couple weeks you're ready to see new faces, smell new smells and stop fighting with the same guy you have to eat dinner with later that evening.

As for the love aspect, I've gotta say the football. Hitting each other. Earning your way up the depth chart. Getting a chance to do what you love with 104 of your best friends and not worrying about anything else. Pardon this poor grammar, but folks, there ain't nothing like August—running as fast you can, slapping into someone, knocking them down and winning a one on one. Oklahoma drills. Bull in the ring. All that stuff is what gets folks jazzed up for camp.


@inthebleachers Tell me what defense is best suited for SEC football, a 3 or 4 man front?

— J. William IV (@GridIron32) August 16, 2012

There really is no right answer. Conventional wisdom would scream, "PUT FOUR GUYS ON THE LINE!" However, we're seeing Nick Saban, Will Muschamp and Todd Grantham control the line of scrimmage and make things happen out of a three-man front-based defense. I'm inclined to pick a four-man front, though. That's where I've already buttered my bread, and that's the philosophy that I came up in. It's a scheme that, in a way, I've been tied to.

I think you can get it done with both schemes. The 3-4 scheme affords a little flexibility when it comes to bringing pressure from multiple angles and different depth levels. The 4-3 is easier to fill with quality players and doesn't doesn't require the services of true freaks at the nose or linebacker position. Both have their positives and negatives. If you can get the personnel, both are solid in the SEC—as Alabama and LSU showed a year ago.


@inthebleachers How much impact do system switches have on defensive players? Concerned about the Ags trip from 4-3 to 3-4 and back.

— Broderick Morgan (@bdmorgan87) August 16, 2012

It depends upon the system change and which position you're playing. In general, the issues are two-fold depending upon the transition being made. In relation to Mr. Morgan's specific question regarding Texas A&M, here we go:

I don't think their schematic transition is going to be nearly as hard as their physical move in the conference. What I mean is that the players are going to transition all right in the system. The oldest players had the 4-3 scheme of Joe Kines prior to the two seasons of Tim Deruyter's 3-4 move. The guys who are sophomores and freshman only know of Deruyter, but they're also being tutored by two guys—Mark Snyder and Marcel Yates—who should transition them nicely.

The 3-4 of Deruyter wasn't the monster front of guys like Nick Saban or Will Muschamp. They played a system a lot more similar to Manny Diaz's style at Texas: speed-based, hybrid players flying around the football and making plays. Now, with the 4-3, a couple of those guys are going hand down full-time and making use of the area they truly excelled—playing behind the line of scrimmage. That transition is easier than going the other way.

No doubt that the Aggies will understand the scheme since it's still predicated on speed and penetration. The transition to watch is finding out if that scheme and the players in it are able to adjust to playing in the SEC. That's not tooting the SEC's horn. Rather, that's looking to find out whether or not the philosophy will match up well in the conference.