MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- As the name suggests, West Virginia's 3-4 defense in 2013 will have three defensive linemen lined up in front of four linebackers. The Mountaineers will base their defense on that alignment for a second straight season after using a 3-3-5 for a decade.
Yet while the second-season look will resemble what was on the field in 2012, there will be differences. A year ago, WVU used a defensive tackle and a defensive end outside and a nose guard in the middle. Those positions combined for 17 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks.
In the fall, the first season with linebackers coach Keith Patterson alone as the defensive coordinator, WVU will use two defensive ends and a nose guard and hope to increase tackles for a loss, sacks and the quarterback's turnovers.
"What we're doing up front is more what we're accustom to - attacking and getting up the field," defensive line coach Erik Slaughter said. "That's going to result in more pressure. We're going straight ahead. Last year we were a slant and angle team with a lot of movement and a lot of deception up front."
That didn't always suit the players up front.
"As a defensive lineman, you get more sacks when you go north-south instead of east-west," defensive end Will Clarke said.
The new alignment figures to enable that, but so does the personnel. The Mountaineers return everyone up front except starting defensive tackle Jorge Wright and backup Jeff Lageman. Wright's ability at 6-foot-2 and 290 pounds and the ascendency of 6-4, 305-pound Shaq Rowell influenced things last year.
"We're working with two end bodies," Slaughter said. "That's what we want to get to, two guys in the 265-, 280-pound range with that big nose, and we've got that. We played two nose guards last year. Jorge Wright was a great player, but really, that's the spot where we want a more athletic guy to line up. Two Will Clarkes would be perfect."
WVU has a different pool of players now, which means Slaughter will use new players to either side of Rowell as the nose guard. Clarke is 6-7 and 275 pounds and Slaughter has freshman Noble Nwachukwu (6-2, 270), sophomore Eric Kinsey (6-2, 265) and sophomore Kyle Rose (6-4, 285) to use at end.
Rose, Rowell and sophomore Christian Brown (6-3, 310) can play nose.
More outside help arrives in the summer when junior college transfer Dontrill Hyman (6-4, 265) enrolls.