Bruce Irvin - A WVU Fan's Input; Quick Description of the 3-3-5

Here is some input from a West Virginia University Bengal fan about one of my favorite players to wear the Gold&Blue, Bruce Irvin. I'm biased because I love WVU football, but I keep it objective. Hopefully this will open up a discussion about what you are getting from BRUUUUUUUUCE!

WVU played the 3-3-5 odd stack defense. Some like it, some don’t, and depending on which game you asked me you would get a different answer each time.

Bruce spent one year under [former coach Bill] Stewart and one year under Dana Holgersen. Stewart was riding talent from the Rich Rodriguez administration, but was terribly mediocre with said talent. Holgersen came in and installed a new offensive system, and that left the defensive coaches to coach up Irvin. That rests on Jeff Casteel, who I loved as a DC. Playing the odd stack, we relied on our front-six to stop the run and our secondary to stop the pass.

The first year, Bruce had a hell of a NT in Chris Neild (later drafted by the Redskins in 2011). Neild was the centerpiece of that defense. He always occupied more than one blocker and that helped the DT and DE get to the QB. Bruce played on obvious passing downs and put up very good sack numbers. in 2011, Neild was gone and WVU struggled replacing him. Bruce was still a disruptive force, but took on a more active role. The line didn’t play up to expectations the first of the season, but they came around the second. Bruce and Julian Miller finished out the season very strong.

Irvin didn’t get the pass rushing moves coached because of the odd stack defense that Casteel used. Emphasis was on stopping the run up front, and shutting down the pass in the secondary. Also, with having eight players who can cover, it leaves a lot of different looks at blitzing. We could blitz from anywhere with this defense and it wasn’t primarily up to the three linemen.

How Irvin fits in your defense: I won't act like I know anything about your defense apart from a few players and the scheme so I can't elaborate on this much. I thought he would be a tweener-type player and ultimately end up at the OLB where he would grow on his pass rushing, and build on some cover skills he might have picked up being a safety at JuCo. Though there has been mention that he is Clemons heir, and he's the exact same size. I think he will fit in nicely in his first year in obvious passing downs where can do what he did so well at WVU, and learn the NFL speed. I think with some coaching he will be able to play a bigger role, and his continued pass rushing ability will grow as well as other abilities to make him an every down player.

Here is an unbiased write-up of last years 3-3-5 odd stack.

DK Edit - here's what Bruce said about WVU's 3-3-5 when asked about his ability to play the run:

"It ain't that I can't play the run, it's how they wanted me to play the run. We ran a 3-3-5 stack defense, I was 235 pounds and you got me in a three technique? I can't help you. You got me going against two 300-pounders and I'm only 235? I don't know anybody who could play the run against two 300-pound guys at 235 pounds. But you put me in a five technique and you ask me to hold center edge and don't let anything get outside of me, I can do that. I think people just kinda misunderstood and didn't really know the basis of our defense. We were the only team that ran a 3-3-5 stack in the country. I was a different type of player and that's not a typical defense for me, but I feel like I was still pretty productive - 23 sacks in two years, so you know, I made the best out of the situation."