Assessing the new defensive coordinator hires of 2014
The most high-profile hire on this side of the ball has worked out like the Bulldogs hoped it would. Georgia is up from 54th to 19th nationally in yards per play, from 45th to 16th in total defense, from 79th to 19th in scoring defense, from 43rd to 16th in rushing defense, and from 85th to 44th in pass efficiency defense. And Georgia is in position to win the SEC East after going 5-3 last season. (Meanwhile, the coordinator whose numbers Pruitt has improved upon, Todd Grantham, has migrated to Louisville and posted better numbers than Charlie Strong and Vance Bedford. Go figure.)
Yes, Anderson started a 100-yard sprint at the 50-yard line with what he inherited from Derek Mason but, man, this Stanford defense is good. The Cardinal jumped from 15th to 1st nationally in yards per play at 3.78, the best number since the legendary 2011 Alabama defense if it holds up. Stanford also ranks second nationally in scoring and total defense
The Bulldogs are 4-3 to this point after finishing 4-8 last season, so let’s start there. Scoring has mostly stayed the same on the whole (26.7 to 26.3), but scoring defense against Conference USA opponents has improved dramatically: After finishing ninth a year ago at 26.6 points per game, La Tech leads the league at 14.7 points per game.
Gibson has reduced the Mountaineers’ averages by a touchdown per game and more than half a yard per play. For best evidence, look at the dueling stat lines of Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty. In 2013, Petty led Baylor to a 73-42 win while completing 17-of-25 passes for 347 yards as Baylor racked up 872 yards of offense. A year and a change of locations later, Baylor hit roughly a third of its previous marks (27 points and 318 yards) as Petty completed 16-of-36 passes for 223 yards.
Without the benefit of the No. 3 pick in the draft playing quarterback on the opposite side of the ball, Summers has lifted UCF from 49th to 11th in yards per play, from 5.35 to 4.54. Outside of the 38-10 loss to Missouri, Summers’ defense has put the Knights in position to win every game this season.
Kaufman’s fourth defensive coordinatorship (a word I just invented) in four years has, as it almost always does, yielded positive results. Kaufman helped Texas Tech jump from 110th to 53rd in yards per play in 2012, boosted Cincinnati from 40th to 10th in 2013, and has now provided modest gains for California (119th to 94th – a 15 percent from from 7.08 to 5.99). A year ago, the 1-11 Bears had FBS’s second-worst scoring defense. This year, the 4-3 Bears are down a touchdown a game and rank 120th nationally.
Ash has worked hand-in-hand with Luke Fickell after last year’s late season collapse, especially by the secondary. The Buckeyes have jumped from 84th to 29th in pass efficiency defense, from 57th to 23rd in yards per attempt allowed, and 112th to 16th in passing defense.
This is a program that has hung its hat on its ability to throw the ball and score points, with one of the most respected offensive coaches of his era as its head coach, and lost games while allowing 17, 21, 28 and 20 points. That, my friends, is criminal. Clune has dropped the Warriors’ yards per play average to 5.32, its lowest since 2010.
VanGorder and his hat have chopped a couple inches per play and three points per game off Notre Dame’s 2013 averages, while tackles for loss are up from 4.92 to 5.57 per outing. The Irish hadn’t allowed more than 17 points this season until getting torched by North Carolina, made Stanford blink first in a 17-14 pitcher’s duel, and dominated Florida State at the line of scrimmage.
Boone did an incredible job as William & Mary’s defensive coordinator – earning a nomination for the FCS Coordinator of the Year – and will need more than one season to transform the Wolf Pack defense from adequate to good. Boone has chopped a touchdown a game off their scoring average and 20 yards per game off their total defense average. Nevada is 4-3, matching their win total from Brian Polian’s debut season.
What a career Robinson has had. After a decade and a half in the NFL, Robinson spent a year at Texas as defensive coordinator, then won 10 games in four years as Syracuse’s head coach, oversaw two unsuccessful campaigns as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, took a year off, volunteered with a California high school, then swooped in as Texas’ defensive coordinator again for most of 2013. Now he’s overseeing a defense that ranks 12th nationally in total defense, but 52nd in yards per play, and 51st in scoring. The Spartans do lead the nation in pass defense and pass efficiency defense, but rank 110th in rushing defense.
The numbers haven’t really changed, but the overall level of competency has risen. Last year’s defense would not have held Texas Tech to seven over a half, Texas A&M to 14 through three quarters and Alabama to 14 over an entire game. Give it time.
The Sun Devils’ numbers have mostly stayed stagnant with its 2013 Pac-12 South championship campaign. Aside from Stanford and its struggling offense, Arizona State hasn’t shut anyone down in Pac-12 play, allowing 545 yards to Colorado, 580 to UCLA and 493 to USC. The Sun Devils have also dropped from seventh to 34th in turnovers gained.
The Bearcats have jumped from 101st to 34th in turnovers forced, but plummeted from 10th to 123rd in yards per play – a jump of 1.95 yards per snap. They allowed 45 first downs and 710 total yards in a 50-28 loss to Ohio State, a season-high (against FBS opponents) 41 points to Memphis, and 621 yards in a 55-34 loss to Miami.
Indiana is struggling to stop anyone this season, ranking 75th or lower in every major category, but then again they couldn’t stop anyone last year, either, where they ranked in the 100’s in every important category. The Hoosiers have allowed 37, 45 and 56 points in their three games against Power Five competition since beating Missouri in Columbia.
The most memorable moment of Ulbrich’s first season as UCLA’s defensive coordinator? This. The Bruins have dropped from 35th to 88th in scoring defense and from 26th to 96th in turnovers forced. UCLA hasn’t held a major conference opponent below 30 since Sept. 25, and Arizona State still racked up 626 yards that night.
Oklahoma State cleared of major violations following SI report
A high school football coach has been fired for…smashing watermelons?
But seriously, there has to be more to the story than that to justify dismissing Walpole.
Minnesota State-Mankato and Todd Hoffner are Division II’s No. 1 ranked team
Now, half a year later, Minnesota State-Mankato is the No. 1 team in the country.