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How defensive coordinators are innovating on their side of the ball

Offensive innovation is sexy and fun to watch, but innovative defensive coaches often don't get the love they deserve (and granted, most of them are fine with things that way). 

That's partly why this piece from ESPN is worth pointing out, well that and it has some excellent coaching points in it from some of the best defensive minds in the game. The article is a great read on how defensive coaches have had to innovate on the heels of some of the most explosive offenses college football has ever seen over the past few seasons.

You really need to read the full article from Adam Rittenberg, but I've plucked out a few things of interest to the coaching community.

- Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop on what's important to defensive coordinators now: "It's not so much being a dominant defense any more. It's about being good on third down, it's about being good at takeaways, it's about being a good red-zone defense and forcing teams to kick field goals. Those are the things defensive coordinators across the country are talking about."

"It's all about possessions. How do you steal possessions?" Shoop added.

- Finding ways to communicate calls quick is key: Defensive coordinator calls have slimmed down to one word, (Jeremy Pruitt), even one syllable (Bob Shoop), Jim Knowles' defensive calls at Duke consist of one word that means something different to each position group.

- Disguising fronts and coverages isn't all that important: Derek Mason recalls advice he received from longtime defensive assistant Willie Shaw, the father of Stanford head coach David Shaw: "Half the time, they know what you're in anyway. They've still got to execute, so don't put your guys in a position where they're going to fool themselves." Mason recalled. "Hey, I'd like to be able to roll coverage and show disguises all the time, but there's something to be said about being lined up in the right place at the right time."

- Jeremy Pruitt's first question about a potential defensive recruit: "What position is he going to play on third down?" Pruitt asks. "If he doesn't have one, we don't need to be recruiting him."

This article is full of great coaching content for both side of the ball, but especially defensive guys. Read it all here.