The Glanville 3-4 defense

Portland State head football coach and defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville runs his half of the team in a hard-hitting 3-4 style defense.

Spring game:

The Portland State football team will host its annual spring game this Saturday at PGE Park, kicking off at 6 p.m. Gates will open at 4 p.m. for fans to choose their seats and purchase season tickets.

The spring game will showcase offensive coordinator Darrel “Mouse” Davis’ run-and-shoot offense as well as head coach and defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville’s hard-hitting 3-4 defense.

To better understand how the new Vikings football team will look, the Vanguard sports section explains how both systems work.

The game will be broadcast on 910 AM KTRO starting at 5:30 p.m.

Portland State head football coach and defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville runs his half of the team in a hard-hitting 3-4 style defense.

“I don’t care about one stat on defense, or anywhere. I don’t want the greatest defense if we’re not winning. I want the hardest-hitting defense–and we’re winning,” Glanville told The Portland Tribune after the hiring of new offensive coordinator Darrel “Mouse” Davis.

Bud Wilkenson originally developed this defensive alignment at the University of Oklahoma in the late 1940s. The defense features four upright linebackers with three down linemen in the front seven, giving it the name 3-4.

The two outside down linemen are typically larger-bodied defensive ends that are good at run-stopping as well as pass-rushing. In between the two ends is the nose tackle, who must be wide-bodied and a good run defender.

The linebackers stay around the outside of the down lineman. Standing upright, the outside linebackers are in charge of protecting the flats, covering a tight end or slot receiver and rushing the quarterback. Fast, strong outside linebackers typically shine in a 3-4 defense because of the overwhelming blitz packages that can be designed within the alignment. The inside linebackers play a vital role in controlling the running game and the inside passing lanes. Strength and speed are again key for the pair of middle linebackers. In passing situations, the middle linebackers may be required to pick up the running back or a tight end.

“Two of the inside linebackers are very smart,” Glanville said of middle linebackers Andrew Shantz and Jordan Senn. “Having smart inside linebackers always allows you to play good defense. That’s the one thing I got out of today.”

Senior team captain Jordan Senn, or, as Glanville refers to him, the “Javelin Thrower,” is not worried about a drop-off from the defense that last year held the top-five positions in every defensive category in the Big Sky.

“Coach Glanville’s defense has been proven. There are numerous teams in the NFL that run our scheme that he helped design in the ’70s. It’s going to be a different defense but the scheme has been proven,” Senn said. “It will take us a little while to get used to running it but I don’t think there will be any drop-off.”

Behind the front seven, the defensive secondary consists of four defensive backs. Two cornerbacks protect the wide receivers lining up on the outside, while two safeties sit in the backfield to cover over top of the corners. Depending on whether the call is for zone or man coverage, the safeties may be assigned to a wide receiver or a deep zone. Corners will typically play in a soft zone near the wideouts or play man-to-man with the receiver across from them.

Junior Michael Dorsey and many of the other defensive players are excited about the change of defense and their new coach.

“There is a lot of buzz around the city about Portland State and our football team. We are excited to be looking into the future,” Dorsey said. “It’s hard to re-learn a system that was successful last year, but at the same time we get to watch film of the systems that we are installing and we are all excited about them.”

The philosophy of the defense is to overwhelm the offensive line and the quarterback, resulting in either a sack or a forced turnover. The rush-first fundamentality has brought success to many NFL teams such as the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, San Diego Chargers, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers. Only two of those teams failed to make the playoffs last year.

“I think it’s definitely good having us run an NFL-caliber defense. It’s crazy to watch film on the Steelers’ defense, and we call out what they are playing,” Senn said. “We know exactly what they are calling, why they are running in the scheme they are in, pointing out what call their defense has made. It is really wild.”