Coming to UB Nation?
When the new coaching staff coaching staff came in many UB faithful started to wonder, for several reasons, if a major change in defensive philosophy was pending. Where were whisperings that Quinn's staff views augmenting the defensive backfield and linebackers as a much more important than Gills staff had. The initial suspicion that I had was that UB was going to move to a 3-4 defense.
There were some obstacles to over come, the first of which is the fact UB has not been looking for a nose tackle in any of its previous recruiting classes. I don't know that UB has a big man to clog up the center of the line, without that in the 3-4 you're usually in for a long day.
In general, ideal front-seven players in the 3-4 are bigger and need to take on and defeat blocks more often in the running game -- Albert Breer, The Sporting News
Because of this the idea of a 3-4 defense seemed unlikely, until an article in a Pennsylvania news paper may have shed some light on things:
At 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, Way played an array of positions at State College. Buffalo plans to use him as a hybrid linebacker/end in its 3-4 defense. . . . Because of Way's various talents, Wolski was surprised bigger name programs didn't extend offers: "I think a lot of them missed the boat on him. He's going to be a player that people are going to kind of say, 'I wish we wouldn'tve recruited that guy, I wish we would've offered that guy.'
If anyone is curious about what a 'hybrid linebacker' might look like look no further than UB Alumni Trevor Scott who plays the 'Elephant Back' for the Oakland Raiders. Scott who was sen by many as too small to be a down to down back had incredible success as a pass rushing specialist in Oakland, quickly becoming a fan favorite.
In order to get Scott more time on the field and not sacrifice their run defense he was moved to a linebacker, of sorts.
"Trevor does a lot for the team in that role because it opens up a wide variety of things for us, He can cover receivers, blitz or put his hand down and rush. His versatility allows us to do many things off the same formation -- Oakland Raiders Linebacker Isaiah Ekejiuba
Right now I don't quite know who would pick up the nose tackle role in a hypothetical 3-4 defense. Sophomores Albert Sparks, or Kenny Scott who are among UB's bigger, younger, tackles.
The nose tackle and the inside linebackers, those are three guys that are very important. But when you go through it, the nose tackle is probably the single-most important guy." --Joe Collier, Denver Broncos assistant (1969-1988)
At linebacker UB has a ton of depth to cover a 3-4 Package, and that was Before the addition of Colby way, someone who might be built as an elephant back. But can Sparks, Scott, or anyone else plug up the middle of the line.