Jimmy Carter is an award-winning reporter covering Arkansas football and basketball for WholeHogSports.com. He was born in Texas and grew up in Tulsa. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and U.S. Basketball Writers Association.
Switch to the 3-4 caters to Randy Ramsey
Arkansas defensive end Randy Ramsey sacks Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio during a game Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE On more than one occasion in the past, Randy Ramsey watched an Alabama or LSU game and got a little envious.
Both teams employ the 3-4, a system reliant on having sizable outside linebackers who can defend the run, rush the passer and drop back in coverage.
"I used to (watch) that all the time like, 'Dang, man, I could be doing that," Ramsey said with a laugh.
Now he is.
Arkansas made the switch to the 3-4 as it prepared for the Belk Bowl and is fully implementing the scheme this spring. The change benefits the 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior perhaps more than anyone on the team.
As a sophomore, Ramsey excelled as a situational player, a pass-rushing defensive end who mostly played on third downs and in other obvious throwing situations. His playmaking ability off the edge was evident: he led the team and ranked fourth in the SEC with 3 forced fumbles, was third on the team with 5.5 tackles-for-loss and compiled 4 quarterback hurries and 2.5 sacks.
All of that came in relatively limited playing time because his slight frame put him at a disadvantage as a defensive end in the 4-3. But now, as an outside linebacker in the 3-4, he has a chance to play the lion's share of snaps for the Razorbacks.
"I'm grateful that the coaches decided to go to this defense," Ramsey said.
Ramsey works at both of Arkansas' two outside linebacker spots, the Razor and the Hog, but has lined up as the starting Razor, the position manned by the smaller outside backer, so far this spring. Michael Taylor and Karl Roesler are the main Hogs.
"They're not really different," Ramsey said. "It's just that the Hog rushes more than the Razor, but they're really the same thing. ... I prefer Razor, because the Hog is on the line of scrimmage battling."
The decision to move to the 3-4 will be beneficial for all 3. More importantly, players and coaches are hopeful the scheme a defense that ranked last in the SEC and 126th out of 128 teams nationally in opponent yards per carry (5.91) last year.
"We got attacked on the outside, as everyone knows, last year and I think the 3-4 has really helped us set an edge for the defense and stop it from the outside in," Roesler said.
Ramsey has added strength to his speed and quickness, gaining about 18 pounds since arriving on campus. The coaching staff is banking on his skill set turning him into an impact player in the 3-4.
"The coaches are putting me in a position to make plays and I'm just thankful," Ramsey said.
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