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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Lobo defense a cause for concern

By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

Whether it’s offense or defense, college football teams like to throw uncanny packages at their opponents to catch them off guard.

Air Force is synonymous with the triple option. The Utes throw a specialized version of the option at their opponents. This week, another team joins the crowd of different styles with a defensive package invented in the 1980s. The Utes play New Mexico and their high-powered, high-pressure, sack-the-quarterback 3-3-5 defense that head coach Rocky Long has been running for the past 15 years.

“Defense is (New Mexico’s) bread and butter,” said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham . “Coach Long is a defensive guy from way back.”

The 3-3-5 scheme is derived from the 46 defense, which was first used by head coach Mike Ditka and his fearsome Chicago Bears defense. It is said to be the most aggressive defense a team could run, and can make an average player good and a good player great. It allows the Lobos to control the tempo of the game, which they also do with their offense, which averages more yards per carry than any other team in the country.

With this package, the defense will have three down linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs, almost denying any chance of an explosive passing game by the offense. The defense will fake a blitz virtually every time with the six defenders that are off the line, forcing the offense to keep the tight end and running backs in the backfield to block.

“They like to bring a lot of pressure and the thing about it is that they can bring so many defenders from different places,” Utah quarterback Brian Johnson said. “The best way to beat blitzes is by getting the ball out fast before the defense gets to you.”

Despite occasionally implementing a cover-two defense this season, New Mexico mostly has their defensive backs play man-to-man coverage. Cover-two allows the back five to focus on a zone while man coverage allows them to blitz with a variety of players. The Ute receivers will have a tough time finding seams against the quick New Mexico defense.

“They definitely cover the holes well and the seams well,” Utah receiver Braden Godfrey said. “We’ll create some spaces hopefully with our formations and the things we do well as an offense.”

The defensive package that the Lobos use has upset the Utes two of the last three times the Utes were ranked. In 2003, the Utes had just weaseled their way into the top 25 by beating Cal and No. 19 Oregon before being upset by the Lobos. The Utes beat New Mexico in 2004 to break the streak and would like to bat .500 in the series as a ranked team.

There hasn’t been much of a problem for the Utes this season in putting points on the board. The least amount of points they have put up was 25 in the season opener against Michigan, and they average 39 points per game. If Utah continues to thrive using its high-powered offense, then the Lobos’ 3-3-5 defense shouldn’t trouble them.

[email protected]

Tyler Cobb

News Mexico?s 3-3-5 defense is designed to make it hard for receivers like Bradon Godfrey to find seams.

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