July 17, 2007

Middle man

Kansas State linebacker Ian Campbell said this summer that it is fair to compare the Wildcats' new 3-4 scheme in principle to those of some of the best defensive units in the NFL, although he made sure to add, "They've just got much better players." The common denominator of those elite NFL defenses is dominating defensive tackle play, something the Wildcats hope to get from Alphonso Moran.

Two years ago the Pittsburgh Steelers rode a 3-4 defense to a Super Bowl Championship. Linebacker Jerry Porter and safety Troy Polamalu received much of the pub, but the players on that defense knew that nose tackle Casey Hampton was the foundation on which everything was built.

The San Diego Chargers, another notable 3-4 defensive team, posted the NFL's best record at 14-2 a season ago. It's easy to see the contributions of outside linebackers Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips, a duo that combined to produce 28 sacks in 2006 despite missing a combined six games. Still, you'd be hard pressed to find a Charger that doesn't call nose tackle Jamal Williams the team's defensive MVP year after year.

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