Hogs: Bielema introduces two new 3-4 defensive coaches & recruiters
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema introduced new assistant coaches and 3-4 defensive disciples John Scott and Chad Walker on Tuesday at the Fred Smith Football Center.
On Bielema’s realigned staff and realigned defense (switching from the 4-3), Walker, the assistant to the defensive backfield coach the past two seasons for the Atlanta Falcons, will coach Arkansas’ outside linebackers.
Scott will coach Arkansas’s three defensive line spots in the 3-4. He spent the past two seasons with the New York Jets as quality control then in 2016 as a defensive line coach.
They join Paul Rhoads and Vernon Hargreaves, who return from last year’s staff.
Bielema promoted Rhoads to defensive coordinator, and Rhoads will continue coaching the secondary. Hargreaves will coach the 3-4’s two inside linebackers.
Both espouse the new scheme that Bielema said in December he would adopt. Rhoads ran the 3-4 defense in 2015, his last year at Iowa State.
“I have been coaching probably 14 years, and I would say seven of my 14 years have been in the 3-4 system,” Scott said mentioning previous coaching stops. “My first full-time from being a graduate assistant being at Norfolk State I learned the 3-4 from Pete Adrian. At the time he had been running it through 30 years of coaching. We ran the 3-4 at Missouri State. We were 3-4 at Texas Tech. We were 3-4 with the New York Jets. So that’s a little bit over half. Most of my stops I have been a 3-4 guy with the exception of Western Carolina and Georgia Southern.”
What are the 3-4’s advantages?
“The one thing I like about the 3-4 is it’s hard to get three guys who can play up front,” Scott said. “So, it’s really difficult to get four. You don’t have to have four trained killers as we call them, or four big dogs inside. You can have three that allow you to get by with that.”
And have two hybrid end/outside linebackers ready to drop in coverage, join the pass rush or defend the run.
“Getting three guys you can play with up front allows you - with all the Spread offenses that you see now - to disguise more blitzes,” Scott said. “You are able to get a line and adjust a lot easier than having four traditional linemen. So there is a lot of pluses to it.”
For Atlanta’s Super Bowl Falcons, Walker coached in the 3-4 scheme. He likes the wild card unpredictability that four linebackers lend to the 3-4.
“You get more players in space,” Walker said. “You get some edge rushers. You have guys who can set an edge. But you definitely get more bodies. You give an illusion of pressure. You can't just say, 'This guy is going to come.' That fourth rusher can come from anywhere.”
Neither Scott nor Walker has coached in Arkansas, yet each had some Arkansas preparation.
For the Jets, Scott worked under defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers, Arkansas’ defensive line coach in 2002 when Houston Nutt’s Razorbacks won the SEC West.
“Kacy has been a tremendous influence on me,” Scott said. “When this job opportunity first came up he said, ‘Man, you’ve got to go on the interview! You guys know Kacy was here before he left and went to the (Dallas) Cowboys. Kacy is a very, very, very good football coach and he has coached numerous Pro-Bowlers and just All-NFL guys running the 3-4 system. So his knowledge of defensive line play and just all the nuance of it has been invaluable to me the last two years.”
Walker, a LSU grad, said he comes Arkansas indoctrinated from relatives living in Fort Smith and Springdale.
“I have family here,” Walker said. “So, I understood the passion, what it was like. Every time they'd come down to visit, I'd understand that passion. And I really felt it this weekend (his first in Fayetteville as a Razorbacks coach).”
Both Scott and Walker said they enjoyed their time in the NFL but are enticed by the challenges Bielema presented and to work with Rhoads.
Neither has recruited SEC territory for an SEC school, but Bielema doesn’t fret.
“I think one of the driving forces of why I hired them was because of recruiting,” Bielema said. “I think recruiting gets down to personality, ability to relate to kids, ability to do certain things when asked. These guys are meticulous workers. Great detail-oriented. Some of the better ones I've been around in my coaching career and ever since coming here have had zero SEC recruiting experience, but they've been good people and that usually wins out.”
Scott said he has recruited in Razorbacks recruiting areas Atlanta, Tulsa, and throughout Houston and eastern Texas while coaching defensive lines at Texas Tech and Missouri State.
Walker recruited in the South for Mississippi College.
Bielema said Scott and Walker come highly recommended in NFL and college circles.