Owls 3-4 defense is a work in progress

Zack Duarte

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






After nearly a decade of playing football in the traditional 4-3 defense, head coach Howard Schnellenberger and defensive coordinator Kurt Van Valkenburgh announced back in January that the Owls are switching to a 3-4 defensive scheme.

The shift to a 3-4 is an attempt to combat the increased use of the spread offense in the college game. In 2010 the Owls allowed more than 400 yards of offense per game.

In a 3-4 system the nose tackle is charged with clogging the gap and taking on double teams while freeing up the linebackers to make more plays, especially in the short-to-intermediate passing game.

The man responsible for the task is Jarvis Givens, a 6-foot-3-inch,305-pound junior defensive tackle, who said that the change hasn’t been too difficult.

“It’s not really a big adjustment, it’s just lining up differently and playing ball, doing what we do best,” said Givens.

Givens said he is aware of the tough responsibility that he has, being in charge of filling up the gaps on the offensive line.

“I know our linebackers are free a lot more out there,” noted Givens. “It’s a more aggressive tackling defense.”

The Owls will display their new defensive system Saturday, April 23, when the team holds its spring game on the Tom Oxley Center football practice fields on the Boca campus.

FAU hopes that the change in its defensive system can help it improve upon its 79th- ranked scoring defense that allowed 29.3 points per game in 2010.

Givens, who said he was excited about the switch, welcomes the challenge.

“I never really paid attention to the 3-4, but I know everybody’s moving to the 3-4 in the league so I figured this was a good time to show off what I can do. Hopefully it will help me get to the next level.”

With a new defensive system taking shape and players like Givens transitioning smoothly, the Owls are looking to return to a bowl game for the first time since the 2008 season, in which FAU defeated Central Michigan 24-21.

By switching to a 3-4, FAU looks to bolster its linebacking core in upcoming recruiting seasons and have a defensive scheme in place that cuts down on total yardage allowed and keeps pace with the ever-changing game of college football.

As the Owls prepare for a new stadium on campus and an exciting 2011 season, the upcoming spring game will display just how differently the defense looks and at the same time give coaches an idea of how smooth the transition has been on the players.

If it’s going as well as Givens indicates, then FAU and its fans will have something exciting to look forward to when the Owls begin their season on Sept. 3 against the Florida Gators.