When Mike Sherman first took over at Texas A&M he wanted to install the 3-4 defense. He hired Reggie Herring, who was at Arkansas. But before spring ball, Herring took a job to become linebackers coach for the Dallas Cowboys.
Sherman then hired Joe Kines and kept the 4-3.
"We asked him to do some things that were really magical because we didn't have linebackers," Sherman said. "We had a defensive lineman playing one linebacker, a former receiver playing linebacker. We were trying to mix and match things. God bless Joe. He did a great job for us, everything he could."
The Aggies ranked 106th in the nation in defense last season.
Kines retired at the end of the season, and Sherman said he spent a month watching tape of programs that play the 3-4 scheme. His search ended with Air Force's Tim DeRuyter. The Aggies traditionally ran a 3-4 defense and used it to develop the Wrecking Crew. Dennis Franchione switched to the 4-3 when he took over in 2003.
"I think we can recruit to that structure," Sherman said of the 3-4, which employs three down linemen and four linebackers. "A&M has a history in the 3-4 defense. We've had a great history of linebacker play in the 3-4 defense in the state of Texas. I felt like we could find four quality linebackers who could impact our defense. ... I think the 3-4 structure can present issues on where the pressure is coming from, particularly against spread offenses where you can bring guys from different sides. So really, the offense cannot predict where the pressure is coming from."
A&M's outside linebackers, the speed guys who rush the quarterback, are expected to be senior Von Miller, who had 17 sacks, tops in the nation, last season, and sophomore Sean Porter.
"The strength of your defense in this defense has to be those guys being able to rush the quarterbacks and being able to blitz," Sherman said. "The biggest challenge I think we have defensively is going to be the inside five, how quickly those inside five are going to grow up and adapt to our scheme. We have some pieces there, but we haven't seen it all together just yet."