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Defensive coordinators "have to find a way to survive" in football today


If you had to guess which defensive coordinator led a unit to a top ten ranking in turnovers the past two consecutive seasons, names like Pat Narduzzi or Jeremy Pruitt would likely come to mind.

You'd be wrong.

While leading the defense at Houston, David Gibbs is the only coach who can say his units ranked in the top ten in turnovers in both 2013 (when they led the country with 43) and 2014 (30 total turnovers). His coaching journey has afforded him the opportunity to learn under some quality head coaches, from Herm Edwards to Mike Shanahan and Gary Kubiak, and Gibbs took something from each of them.

Now in charge of the defense at Texas Tech, Gibbs sat down with Lubbock Online to talk about his defensive system and coaching philosophy.

"I have a system. We have a system in place. We have a scheme and I’m a big believer in, if you just coach your kids to do what they’re supposed to do, that seven out of 10 times they’re going to be fine. No matter how good the other team is, you’re going to be OK." Gibbs explained.

"The problem is, you try to force things ... You cannot dictate, in my mind, on defense anymore, unless you’re better than the offense."

That's a big part of why Gibbs has decided to put so much emphasis on turnovers.

"Therefore you better learn how to survive and you better learn how to take the ball away. The old bend-but-don’t-break philosophy, it’s more alive now in college football than ever, but when I watch defensive schemes, I don’t see that mindset. I see them being aggressive and I see them playing bump man all the time even though there’s no way in the world in college football now the corners are as good as the wide receivers."

He also provides some advice for defensive coaches in today's landscape of explosive offenses by saying simply, "you better find a way to survive" regardless of how your football IQ stacks up, or the talent you have on the field.

"Whether or not you’ve got good enough players, whether or not you’re as smart a defensive guy as they are an offensive guy, you better find a way to survive."

"You’ve got to change up your looks. You’ve got to change up your fronts. And it’s easy to say, but when you talk about doing it, going from a 3-4 to a 4-3, that all sounds good sitting in here, but you’ve got to teach these 18-year-olds to understand it and to do it."

Read the full Q&A, complete with some really good coaching content, here.