Part two of our series on the rush of new defensive coordinators this season. We'll keep typing just to get away from the abominable fart of a pun we just laid there...GO!
Corwin Brown, Notre Dame.
Status: n00b. A mysterious, veiled enigmariddle of a cipherman brought in from the dark, Skull 'n Bones-like Belichick fraternity to rebuild Notre Dame's shameful defense. (Brown only got this privilege, presumably after confessing his whole sexual history while laying naked in a coffin in a dark, candlelit room.)
So new you can't find photos of him in street clothes.
Skull 'n Bones-style fraternal networking may be the only powerful explanation behind Weis hiring a guy just four years removed from playing defensive back in the NFL.
Coach Cryptogram will implement Mangini/Cottrell/Belichick/Parcell's magical 3-4, both for personnel and personal reasons. It's an uncommon attack at the collegiate level, requiring gangs of linebackers and gravitation-distorting nose tackles. It also looks to be a long-term commitment, as Brown's busy enticing talented young fat men to South Bend already.
As bad as Notre Dame's defense has been over the past two years in big games, Brown can't help but improve. Logically, that's not true--they could get worse, in theory. However, the sheer funkiness of the 3-4's pressure schemes could be enough to buy Brown the time to fold more talent in over the coming years and take some pressure off the scandalized secondary. The hiring of a black coach at Notre Dame, no matter where you might stand on the "Notre Dame r 2whyte" argument, cannot hurt recruiting in Chicago's largely African-American and talent-rich inner city, either.
His biggest problem may be finding a way to rein in the most volatile factor in Notre Dame's defense, Tom Zbikowski, who spent most of his time in Rick Minter's scheme overrunning plays, laying the occasional blindside OOOOHHH hit, and getting napalmed by the deep ball. We like to think of him as the white Kyle Jackson, but with the proven ability to knock motherfuckers out for cash. Brown's got to turn him from a stuntman to a real safety, or he's going to be the Irish simulacrum of Scott Frost in next year's NFL draft.
Courtesy of Jamarcus Russell and Troy Smith.
John Thompson, Ole Miss.
Status: retread. The old balding one you pull out of your trunk that looks like rubber-eating moths have been attacking it. If you're looking for a fair assessment of Thompson, this isn't it--his fortunes boom in the SEC West and go to die in the SEC East, where we watched him blitz Florida out of games and eventually earthify* Eastern Carolina as a head coach before returning to South Carolina to lose his job as defensive coordinator.
A poor man's Joe Lee Dunn, and that statement represents a serious degree of poverty there, Thompson relies on a blitz-giddy system ultimately riddled with...
Commonly referred to as "the bucket of minnows" defense, Thompson's rushers stand around, change positions, knit, call people on their cell phones, and disguise their assignment until the last possible second. On passing downs, the sets can be nightmarish, an effect reflected in his defense's excellent passing stats during his tenure at Southern Miss, LSU, Arkansas, and Florida.
Run right at them, though, and the whole platoon scatters like bowling pins, something teams humble enough to settle down and do accomplish with great success. Tuberville, Saban, Miles and Nutt won't have any problem doing this. Summary statement of great gravity and import: this hire casts serious doubt on the competence of Ed Orgeron as a CEO-type coach. Surriously.
Having said that, we will be writing the rest of this post from an undisclosed location in the Jura Mountains of the Sudan. The Orgeron hears all.
Bill Doba, Washington State.
Status: retread. A retread of the trick question variety, because a.) he's coached WSU's defenses before, and b.) because he's still the head coach. Doba's return to coaching the defense is presumably designed to halt a four-year skid from the top of the conference rankings coinciding with Doba's promotion from defensive coordinator to head coach. And why the hell not--Pete Carroll does a fair job of balancing the two at USC, all the while maintaining Pilates-quality abs in the process. Doba's not even hoping for the abs bit.
Contrary to what your collective sports memory is telling you, the Cougars' defenses mattered as much to their success as Mike Price's four-wide offensive sets. Their 10-3 2003 team finished second in the Pac-10 in total defense, and Doba's defenses frequently led the league in sacks and takeaways. We can only see good things coming from the move, even if Doba lists Lee Corso as one of his primary references.
Wayne Bolt/Gene Chizik, Iowa State
Status: Glorious n00bs. Maybe the most ripe for success of any of the new appointees on the defensive side of the ball this year, and not just for their hypermasculine name combination. (Coach Bolt. Just sounds awesome, doesn't it?)
Chizik went to Auburn, and they went undefeated. Oh, and this happened.
Ooo WA AH AH AH. Then Chizik went to Texas, where they won a national title, turned Bob Stoops mojo inside out, and this happened.
Yeah, there's stats: Auburn hanging around the top three in the SEC every year in defense with Chizik, and Texas finishing in the top two each year with Chizik at the helm. The better data surrounding Gene Chizik is the anecdotal pain his defense brings over the course of four quarters. We've described them in the past as a cover-2 Anaconda: patient, brutal, and extremely dedicated to the game plan: bringing speed off the edge, asphyxiating the run, and letting the safeties commit outright atrocities on pass plays.
And Chizik will favor his attentions toward the defense while coordinating the attack with Wayne Bolt, a gifted coach from the pesky Troy State defensive school who can only benefit from working under Chizik. Iowa State's defense has had flashes of potential over the past few years. With Chizik already working with a deep knowledge of the conference and holding on to Bolt, who went through his first year at ISU last year, someone's getting Klatted in the Big 12 again this year.
Everett Withers, Minnesota.
Status: retread. Former defensive coordinator at Louisville back in the John L. Smith era, which again is an association of dubious value for a defensive guy. However, his 1996 unit did rank fourth in the country in total defense, and he did spend the last six years coaching the defensive backs of the Tennessee Titans, which entailed communicating commands and instructions to Pacman Jones in a manner he could understand. Anyone capable of this is not without talent.
Withers was hired to install "a 4-3 scheme built on speed 100 mph boom goes the dynamite blah blah." Unsure what that may mean, since it's what 98% of all defensive coaches say they're going to do. Given Minnesota's struggles on defense, those may be bad booms and not the good kind.
Whatever happens, it'll be exciting! Because Tim Brewster's excited! Excited?
Chuck Pagano, University of North Carolina.
Status: n00b. Normally we'd lobby against hiring anyone and anything associated with the 2006 Raiders, right down to the equipment boys and janitorial staff. Whatever they had, it doesn't respond to antibiotics, and once you catch it trained professional doctors just write the word "FUCKED" on your chart for a prognosis.
Yet Chuck Pagano, longtime Butch Davis assistant, actually did something sort of awe-inspiring last year, coaching the Raiders' secondary to first in the league in pass defense despite playing for a team whose phone calls Hope deliberately did not answer. On that basis alone, he's a sneaky but impressive pick, especially with Butch Davis sitting in on gameplanning. Add his fine work grooming the commandos of Miami's late-90s secondaries--ballhawking, fumble-causing dreadlocked demons--and Pagano shapes up to be a safe and potentially very sound pick for Davis' first staff.
Greg McMackin, Hawaii.
Status: Happy, happy retread. McMackin coached for Jones in Hawaii in 1999, bought a house, and was prepared to grow roots when Texas Tech offered him 350K to the 80 thousand he was making at the time. Jones all but ordered McMackin to go despite McMackin's role in reviving Hawaii's comatose defense in their 9-4 turnaround season.
Several winding stops later, the departure of outgoing DC Jerry Glanville to Portland State allowed McMackin to slide back in following a year off from coaching to recuperate from knee surgery. The whole point of this entry comes in two points:
1. McMackin's well-suited for the role of DC to an offense-first coach, having done time with Mike Leach and Dennis Erickson.
2. He's living the dream in Hawaii, and you're not.
With that, we leave you with Magnum. Note to self: make more friends who own their own helicopters.
*Drive them into the ground.