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Mike Breske's 3-4: 'We Have To Take Advantage Of Our Assets, Not Our Liabilities'

Mike Breske is going to have some wrinkles cooked up for Riley Nelson and his teammates in the season opener on Aug. 30.
Mike Breske is going to have some wrinkles cooked up for Riley Nelson and his teammates in the season opener on Aug. 30.

This is a few days old, but I wanted to make sure to feature Mike Breske's interview with the ESPN Pac-12 blog (parts one and two) because it's a good read.

If you haven't already, one thing you'll learn very quickly about Breske is that he's incredibly quotable. I had the pleasure of talking with him for about 15 minutes at the Night With Cougar Football in Seattle, and he's a gregarious, high-energy sort. It's a personality that comes through in this interview.

Many fans have latched onto the idea of a 3-4, but one theme stressed by Breske in this interview is that flexibility is going to be the hallmark of his defense -- mostly out of necessity. First off, the Cougars don't have the personnel to run a true 3-4. Second, the team is going to face varied offenses, so Breske wants to be able to match up in different ways.

We'll be multiple. That's going to be based on the game-plan and the type of offense we're going to see each week. We have to have flexibility in our package. Yet, we don't want to put too much in. That type of deal where we overwhelm our kids. We always want to be able to play fast on defense and be able to make plays. Not think, but react. That type of thing. We'll jump into an over scheme and an under scheme and a 3-4 scheme and be very multiple. That's going to be a plus for us because we won't be the biggest, most physical front seven you're going to see in the Pac-12. We have to take advantage of our assets, not our liabilities.

That under and over stuff? They will look more like a 4-3 -- and we saw both of those looks in the spring game.

Another interesting tidbit?

I'm pretty aggressive. I think that's one of the reasons coach Leach looked at me. He's an out-of-the-box-type head coach. He's saw what we did at Montana the last couple of years -- there we were dabbling in the 3-4 and we were going to move in that direction anyway. I think we want to make things happen and create things on our side of the ball and, obviously, we want to get our offense on the field. We're not into those 12-15 play type drives on defense. And I know coach doesn't want that either. He doesn't want his offense on the sideline.

It's that last part that confirmed what I suspected: Expect a high risk, high reward defense that both makes big plays and gives them up. You'll be excited, you'll be frustrated ... but you'll never be bored.

If you haven't done so already, read the rest of that interview, if only to see Breske call defensive linemen "biscuits."

One other thing I've been thinking about with regards to the defense is that BYU game. I'm starting to think more and more that it's a huge advantage for WSU to play the toughest nonconference game first, rather than beginning the season with a cupcake. Yes, BYU played against Wyoming when Breske was there, but this move to 3-4 has really only taken hold recently. And I know Breske's got some creative looks cooked up that he didn't show in the spring game.

A former Cougar football player who is now an assistant at Montana State agrees.

Basically, BYU really doesn't have any idea what it's going to be facing in that first game.

And then there's the psychological effect on a team that's been bad for years and is desperate to get off on the right foot:

What do you guys think? Would you rather play your toughest nonconference opponent first, or after you've had a couple of cupcakes in the bag?