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Mark Stoops is mulling a return to the 4-3 defensive scheme

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Without a stud to play nose tackle, this is probably a good move.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Stoops made a name for himself as the defensive coordinator at Florida State University, regularly putting guys in the pros and continually putting up great numbers with a 4-3 front.

After several seasons running the 3-4 with the Kentucky Wildcats, it looks as though he may be returning to his roots.

During his weekly call-in show (which he changed travel plans to stick around for), Stoops indicated that he is open to change in an effort to find the defensive success many expected when he arrived in Lexington.

“You have to look at all options,” Stoops said. “Everything is on the table. You have to do what you have to do to progress and make sure you’re putting your players in a position to be successful.”

Most believe Stoops decided to run the 3-4 with Kentucky simply because he did not have the depth on the defensive line to have two defensive tackles out there at all times.

Stoops had hoped to land a stud nose tackle to anchor the interior of the unit, but Matt Elam and Naquez Pringle have not been able to carry the load. And while true freshman Quinton Bohanna has been impressive as of late, there is no guarantee of getting consistent play at that position for years to come.

Playing the 4-3 would allow Denzil Ware, Josh Allen, and even Josh Paschal to be freed up to wreak havoc from the edges. They could share time at outside linebacker and defensive end, according to Stoops.

But while the 4-3 does take some pressure off of the interior linemen, it does require more depth. Having only one commitment for that position for next year (Tyler Bentley), Stoops is aware of the challenge of getting enough big guys ready to play the position.

“Recruiting defensive linemen is a big piece of the 4-3. I think we have some pieces that we can gear towards looking at some of that in the future.”

Whether it is a schematic or staffing change (or both), everyone agrees that adjustments need to be made on the defensive side of the ball for the Wildcats. Since Stoops is mum on potential staff shake-ups, could we perhaps see some 4-3 as early as this year’s bowl game?