New Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead continues to fill out his staff and blaze the recruiting trail with the early signing period just a week away. He could finish filling his staff by the end of the week, and there will be a continued push in recruiting down to the last second possible.
One vacancy already filled is defensive coordinator; Moorhead hired Bob Shoop, who comes to Starkville with various stops along the way, including most recently at Tennessee.
Shoop will be the seventh defensive coordinator in Starkville in the past decade. At MSU, it’s a position that obviously has lacked stability; at times, though, there has been success. This season, now-Florida DC Todd Grantham showed that a top-flight defense is possible at MSU.
But given Shoop’s work at Tennessee, why should Bulldogs fans be excited about their new defensive coordinator? The Vols surrendered a staggering 5,855 rushing yards in his two seasons in Knoxville, and this season, UT became the first SEC team to allow 3,000 rushing yards.
Before his arrival in Knoxville, though, Shoop, 51, coordinated some stout defenses. While at Vanderbilt, working under James Franklin from 2011-2013, his defenses held 10 opponents to 10 or fewer points, and the Commodores allowed just 18.7 points per game in 2012. Shoop’s defenses at Vanderbilt also averaged 29 sacks per season. In the two seasons before he arrived, Vandy had 40 sacks total.
At Penn State, Shoop’s defenses recorded 77 sacks in two years and gave up just 18 and 22 points per game in 2014 and ’15, respectively. His Nittany Lions units had ferocious defensive fronts and were aggressive overall, with 198 tackles for loss in his two seasons. (While there is a Penn State connection with both, they were not on the staff at the same time.)
To an extent, discard his stop at Tennessee, which was a failure in large part because of the bad culture under Butch Jones. Culture can be undervalued in college football and if we’ve learned anything as the Jones’ era crumbled, Tennessee’s recent culture has been a mess. He also worked with overrated talent and had to deal with a bad run of injuries at linebacker.
Shoop says he’s “multiple” on defense and likes to bring pressure, which would be similar to what the Bulldogs saw from Grantham this season. In this era of fast-paced offenses, you have to be able to adjust defensively; Shoop has shown he can do that.
On the recruiting trail, Shoop has done a good job, as well, landing players like undervalued running back Ralph Webb at Vanderbilt.
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