It's a good thing.
That's the consensus of three Tennessee players affected by the switch to a 3-4 defensive front.
As the Vols conclude their first week of spring football practice today, the early reviews on the new defensive scheme being taught by new coordinator Sal Sunseri are positive.
"It's a lot of concepts," said Marlon Walls, who will be an end instead of a tackle in the new look. "As a player, you always like to think a little bit more so it's a good thing."
Maurice "Mo" Couch will be a nose tackle (or nose guard). He'll be using his mass more than his brain to occupy space and blockers.
"The nose guard," said Couch, "he's not there to make any plays. He's there to be a big body to take up gaps.
"But coach Sal, he moves the nose guard around a lot and puts us in position to make a lot of plays.
"So I'm very happy to play in this defense. This can help me in the future if I get blessed to go pro."
That's always a good thing.
For Jacques Smith, it's a belated reward for loyalty.
Smith, from Ooltewah, signed with UT out of instate love, even though other SEC suitors that used a 3-4 might have been a better fit.
"I bleed orange, literally," Smith said.
But he spent his first two years as a bit of an undersized defensive end in the 4-3 scheme. Now he becomes a stand-up "Jack" linebacker.
"This puts me in positions where my strengths will ultimately allow me to win certain matchups," Smith said.
So, better late than never, it's a good thing.
Coach Derek Dooley wanted to incorporate the 3-4 and when defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox left, the opportunity knocked. Enter Sunseri, from Alabama's staff.
"You try to slot the bodies in the right spots," Dooley said.
"Some guys are good at any defense. What I'm looking at is body types. A guy like Jacques, when he plays end in a 4-3 he's a little undersized.
"Doesn't mean he can't be good ... but then when you stand him up as an outside backer, he's perfect sized."
Walls finished last season weighing 273, he said. He's at 288 for spring.
"(At tackle), I've got 630 pounds coming at me on a double-team," Dooley said. "When I'm out here (at end) I've either got a tight end or a single blocker. Big difference."
Couch and Daniel Hood are listed as the nose tackles. Daniel McCullers, a 6-foot-6, 380-pound junior-college transfer, will join them in the fall.
Willie Bohannon, formerly a defensive end, joins Smith at the "Jack" linebacker.
For the two end positions, Walls, Jordan Williams, Steven Fowlkes and newcomer Darrington Sentimore are battling.
Lending depth to the competition are Joseph Ayres, Allan Carson, Trevarris Saulsberry and Gregory Clark. Winter enrollee Trent Taylor and incoming freshman Danny O'Brien will get in the mix.
"We're pretty stacked," said Walls, "which challenges you a little bit more because you've got to fight for your job. So that's a good thing."