FootballScoop is proud to announce that Bob Diaco (Notre Dame) is the 2012 FootballScoop Defensive Coordinator of the Year presented by ProGrass.
Diaco has led a massive improvement in Notre Dame's defense from 2011 to 2012 and, in turn, the Fighting Irish have become the first team to jump from outside the preseason top 25 to the BCS National Championship. Behind excellent play from linebacker Manti Te'o, the Notre Dame defense has made moving the ball a task as enviable as conducting a land war through a Russian winter.
Diaco's defense ranks inside the top dozen in the four biggest defensive metrics, and first in the most important statistic. The Fighting Irish are ranked fourth in rushing defense (92.4 yards per game, 3.16 yards per carry), sixth in total defense (286.8 yards per game, 4.55 yards per play), 12th in pass efficiency defense (105.5 opponent quarterback rating with 7 TDs and 16 INTs) and, most importantly, first in scoring defense at 10.3 points per game.
Those numbers represent a substantial leap from last season, when the 8-5 Fighting Irish ranked 34th in total defense, 28th in scoring defense, 58th in rushing defense and 56th in pass efficiency defense.
The greatest evidence of Notre Dame's dominant 2012 season has been how difficult it is for opposing offenses to reach the end zone. The Irish have allowed a scant 10 touchdowns through 12 games, more than half a touchdown per game better than their next closest competitor (Alabama). When opponents manage to push Notre Dame inside the red zone, which has only happened 26 times through 12 games, the Irish get even stingier. Overall, Notre Dame is tied for third in the traditional red zone metric, but Notre Dame's 24.2 percent touchdown rate is well above the other top five red zone defenses (BYU - 46%, Alabama - 52%, Penn State - 48%, Utah State - 33%). Notre Dame has also been extremely stringent in allowing explosive plays, ranking second in opponent plays of 20 or more yards (29) and 30 or more yards (nine).
Te'o has become the first strictly defensive player to challenge for the Heisman Trophy since Pittsburgh's Hugh Green in 1980. Te'o leads the team with 103 tackles, leads all FBS linebackers with seven interceptions, and has also collected 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 11 passes defended, four pass breakups, four quarterback hits and two fumble recoveries. But Te'o's importance stretches far beyond the box score. To paraphrase what Chris Fowler said on Saturday's College GameDay, "Te'o leads the linebackers, the linebackers lead the defense, the defense leads the team and the football team leads the university."
Diaco's unit has put together some absolute gems this season, starting with the season-opener in Dublin in which Notre Dame held Navy to 149 rushing yards and 10 points while creating seven of their own with Stephon Tuitt's 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown. Then there was the 20-3 win over Michigan State, where Notre Dame held Big Ten leading rusher Le'Veon Bell to 77 yards and sacked quarterback Andrew Maxwell four times. One week later, the Fighting Irish held Michigan to a season-low six points and intercepted five passes. The next week, Notre Dame held Miami to a season-low scoring output in a 41-3 blowout. In all, Diaco's defense held eight of their 12 opponents to their season-low scoring total, including four of their last five foes (Oklahoma, Boston College, Wake Forest and USC).
The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by ProGrass are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Diaco, Derek Mason - Stanford, Kirby Smart - Alabama, Mark Stoops - Florida and Dan Quinn - Florida) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel. The prior winners selected this year's winner.
The 2012 winners will receive their awards and be recognized at an event at the AFCA Convention in January.
Previous winners of the Defensive Coordinator of the Year award are Nick Holt (USC, 2008), Kirby Smart (Alabama, 2009), Vic Fangio (Stanford, 2010) and John Chavis (LSU, 2011).
1st Nationally - Scoring Defense
4th Nationally - Rushing Defense
1st Nationally - Red Zone TD's
6th Nationally - Total Defense
3rd Nationally - Red Zone Defense
2nd Nationally - Opp. Plays of 20+ Yds.
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