Dogs expecting much-improved defense in 2012

FRESNO, Calif.

"We've gone from having to recruit four d-linemen," said Defensive Coordinator Nick Toth. "In mid-major football everybody's after the same guy. So to recruit four of them is difficult. Sometimes you're lucky to have two. So what we've done is taken one of those guys off the field."

And subsequently, the Bulldogs' recruiting efforts have focused more on athletic linebackers to swarm the field, which translates to more speed wearing Bulldog red this season.

"We've got some really good players there with really good speed," said Bulldogs Head Coach Tim DeRuyter. "I think that accentuates it, and I like what Coach Toth and Coach Stenklyft are doing with our inside backers and outside backers."

The point of the switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 is simple: Swap out one defensive lineman for one extra linebacker, giving the bulldog defense more speed to either stop the run or come around the edge and get the quarterback. And so far, the players seem to like it.

"It's 'Be a fanatical player,'" said Bulldogs linebacker Shawn Plummer. "It's allowing us to do that. We have our job to do and this defense is allowing us to do it at 100%, 100 miles per hour."

"There's a lot of disguises," said Bulldogs safety Phillip Thomas. "There's a lot of blitzes. There's going to be a lot of things that I'm going to do out there that I wasn't doing in the 4-3 before

A defensive shift that has the Bulldogs on the fast track to success.

"This defense is ready to go," said Plummer. "We're moving really well even halfway through camp right now. Now it's just time to iron out the edges."

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