One of the most difficult things about this transition will be the new defense. I am a huge fan our defenses. I think most Penn State fans are…with one big exception.
We are linebacker U. We have a tradition of huge hits (thinking of you Matt, Shane, LaVar, Dave, Jack, Dan, and Puz). We are the team that makes Heisman winners look foolish (thinking of you Vinny, Herschel, and Marcus).
But now we are without one of the key components of those defenses…Tom Bradley. I miss you already coach. The bright side is that we’re keeping two of the fundamental cogs in Larry Johnson and Ron Vanderlinden. These guys are critical both to the past and to the future success of our defenses.
I’ve always had one caveat about our defenses…the old “Bend But Don’t Break” philosophy. How many times have you screamed obscenities at the TV as our opponents converted yet another first down in the middle of the field.
I couldn’t find my dog after the USC bowl game…scared her so far under the bed I needed a flashlight to find her. Our pass defense always left me terrified. But that style of play is over.
We have a new coach, Ted Roof. We are moving on, so let’s talk about him. Peter Gray did a good job of digging into his history, philosophy etc… However, I don’t think he went back far enough in history. In addition, some more information came out recently, so let’s use it.
He started at Duke as the defensive coordinator in 2002 and made an immediate difference. His 2002 defense at duke was 65th nationally in total defense. It improved to 57th in 2003…but then he became head coach. This looks like a situation where he was better suited as a defensive coordinator than a head coach.
His new coordinator(s) took his defense from 57th in 2003 to 100th nationally in 2004. They continued to struggle the next two years…just 89th and 105th nationally.
Call me optimistic, I’m willing to put the blame for that on his staff. He seems to have a great track record for showing up and improving a defense.
I’d like to see him improve our defensive back play. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), he’s going to have to coach up a bunch of young guys. And he’ll get to recruit for his system for next year.
One thing I’m excited about him using man to man, press coverage. He likes to be aggressive and let guys play tight coverage.
In thisinterview on Scout.com (http://pennstate.scout.com/2/1155476.html), Roof gets pretty specific about his vision for PSU’s defense going forward. His first priority is stopping the run. Second, he wants a pass rush to affect the quarterback. Finally, he wants to defend the long ball.
Okay, those are the right words to say to a Penn State fan. He gets it, now let’s hope he can pull it off. At the very least, we know he starts out with beef on the D-Line and a great set of linebackers.
I’m starting to get fired up again. Can’t wait for BlueWhite to see what we’ve got.
What do you think?