Oregon's New Defensive Coordinator: Brady Hoch
HOKE PUTS NEW FACE ON UO DEFENSE, INCLUDING 4-3 FRONT
By Rob Moseley
Oregon’s defense will have a new look in spring practice, with a new coordinator prowling the sideline and a new scheme being installed.
Former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke was hired Saturday as defensive coordinator, replacing Don Pellum, who is remaining with the staff as linebackers coach. A long-time defensive assistant before his three head coaching stops, Hoke has favored a 4-3 front that will be the Ducks’ base defense for 2016, a departure from the 3-4 front installed in 2009.
UO coach Mark Helfrich spoke Saturday evening with media who cover the Ducks, for the first time since announcing Pellum’s reassignment and to comment on Hoke’s hiring.
“As we’ve said many times, we’re in the ‘get better’ business,” Helfrich said. “We just felt as a program, and I just felt as leader of that program, that was the direction we needed to go, as far as a different voice, a different command over that unit. …
“We needed just a different direction, and that will be schematic as well.”
While Hoke never before has had the title of college defensive coordinator, “he was intimately involved in every defense when he was head coach, and a de facto defensive coordinator many years,” Helfrich noted.
Each of Hoke’s last two coaching stops featured massive improvements on the defensive side of the ball. San Diego State allowed 6.18 yards per plays in 2008, No. 103 in the FBS; under Hoke in 2009, the Aztecs allowed 5.39 yards per play, and in 2010 they allowed 4.86, ranking 22nd in the FBS.
That same season, Michigan allowed 6.09 yards per play, No. 101 in the nation. Hoke arrived in 2011 and the Wolverines improved to 5.22 yards per play allowed. That average dropped to 4.93 in 2012, and the Wolverines ranked 14th nationally at 4.77 yards per play allowed in 2014, Hoke’s fourth and final season.
The Ducks are seeking improvement in a unit that ranked 98th last season, allowing 6.03 yards per play. Hoke will be tasked with that job during spring drills, which he’ll spend as a “walk-around coordinator” overseeing the installation of his defense and assessing his new players under the direction of returning position coaches Ron Aiken (defensive line), John Neal (secondary) and Pellum.
“He’s been an excellent head coach, he’s been an excellent defensive coach, for a long, long time,” Helfrich said. “He’s been around a lot of great people, and he’s coached a lot of great people. I think he’s going to have a renewed bounce in his step (after not coaching in 2015), as a ‘young’ old guy.”
Hoke is also considered an outstanding recruiter. His 2012 and 2013 classes at Michigan each ranked in the top 10 nationally according to Rivals.com. Helfrich said Hoke had some final paperwork to wrap up as soon as possible before joining the rest of the UO staff on the road filling out the class that will sign in February.
“He’s a great guy, fun to be around; guys like to play for him, which plays into the recruiting part of it,” Helfrich said.
Helfrich said he was “headed (the) direction” of shaking up the defensive staff even prior to Oregon’s Alamo Bowl loss to TCU, in which the Ducks squandered a 31-0 halftime lead. Pellum, who molded a string of productive inside linebackers as position coach prior to being named defensive coordinator in 2014, “has handled this incredibly well,” Helfrich said, “and is a guy who, as I’ve said before, is part of the solution.”
It’s possible, following the spring installation period, that Hoke could coach a position group in the fall, Helfrich said. For the time being, though, he’ll be installing his scheme, which will be built around a base 4-3 front.
In 2009, the Ducks moved from a 4-3 to a 3-4 that featured a hybrid end/linebacker position, allowing multiple looks. Recently they’ve been closer to a traditional 3-4 team, while still varying fronts at times. Helfrich said “there’s going to be guys standing up and moving around” in Hoke's scheme as well.
Brady Hoke could be a home-run hire for recruiting
By Andrew Nemec
Hoke, who has won coach of the year awards in the MAC, Mountain West and Big Ten conferences, is also know as a strong recruiter. While Hoke was the head coach at San Diego State from 2009-2010, Jon Hoke, the recently hired Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back coach, said he believed one of his brother's strengths lay in recruiting.
"I don't care where it is, whether it's San Diego State or anywhere else, if there's one thing he can do it's recruit. He's as good at it as anybody," he told The San Diego Union-Tribune. "He's relentless with recruiting. He has a great feel for parents and a great feel for players. As long as you give him the budget to (recruit) the way it needs to be done, he'll be fine." That statement proved prophetic, as Hoke's move to Michigan in 2011 gave him both the budget and clout to recruit the nation's best. He didn't disappoint.
Despite a 31-20 record during his four years at Michigan – predecessor Rich Rodriguez went 15-22 – Hoke reeled in the No. 7 recruiting class in the country in 2012 and the nation's No. 5 recruiting class in 2013.
Amid turmoil in his final season, Hoke managed to secure the commitment of New Jersey five-star athlete Jabrill Peppers, one of the most coveted defensive back recruits of the past decade.
Recruiting isn't everything, of course, but it's a piece of the puzzle. And it's an area in which Hoke excels. That's potentially good news for Oregon's future, but Hoke's arrival also comes at a critical time. This year's Oregon class is nearly full on offense, highlighted by four-star quarterback Terry Wilson, running back Vavae Malepeai and wide receivers Dillon Mitchell, Eddie McDoom and Tristen Wallace.
Defensively, the Ducks still have plenty of work to do. Five-star talents Jonathan Kongbo and Caleb Kelly remain in the mix, as do four-star athletes Connor Murphy, Nigel Knott, Keith Simms, Calvin Bundage and others. While Hoke's true value will be determined on the field in the fall, his first test will come over the next three weeks, as he looks to close out a class that is slumping at the wrong time.
Track & Field
Ducks Score Five Event Wins to Start the Indoor Season
SEATTLE, Wash. – Raevyn Rogers set a 600-meter indoor collegiate record as part of five wins for the Oregon track and field team to begin the 2016 season at the UW Preview, Saturday.
Rogers picked up where she left off last year, breaking two minutes and winning the 800-meter NCAA Championships as a freshman to cap the 2015 season. On Saturday, the Houston, Texas native broke a 35 year-old record set in 1981 by Delisa Floyd of Tennesse. Rogers spent a large portion of the race in second place, but charged past Stanford’s Olivia Baker on the final lap and holding off teammate Brooke Feldmeier with a winning time of 1:26.34. The time is also the second-fastest ever run by an American, only trailing Alysia Montano’s 1:23.59.
“For Raevyn it’s just a matter of doing what she’s capable of doing,” said head coach Robert Johnson. “She’s bought into the coaching 100 percent and it will be exciting to see her keep progressing.”
Feldmeier finished second to Rogers in 1:28.21 while making her debut for Oregon after transferring from Mississippi.
Fellow newcomer Itohan Aikhionbare impressed in her Oregon debut as well, setting an indoor personal best and meet record in the shot put with a winning throw of 55-2.25 (16.82m). Aikhionbare steadily improved over the course of her four legal throws before reaching her best mark which now ranks second on the Oregon all-time list behind teammate Brittany Mann.
Jasmine Todd continued her success at the Dempsey Indoor, winning the 60 for the second straight year at the UW Preview. Todd advanced through the semifinals with a time of 7.31 which she improved to 7.24 in the final to become the collegiate leader and second in the world this year. Todd’s new teammate, Hannah Cunliffe, took third in her hometown of Seattle with a time of 7.31, quickly etching her name into the Oregon record book with the fifth-fastest time in school history.
A pair of 60-meter hurdlers also advanced to the final as school-record holder Sasha Wallace finished as the top collegian in the field with a season-opening time of 8.19, the third fastest in the NCAA this season. She was joined by redshirt freshman Alaysha Johnson who ran a personal best of 8.35 in both the semifinal and final, finishing fourth. Johnson’s time in the hurdles was good enough to put her third in Oregon history while she just missed the top-10 list in the 200 where she set another personal best in 24.28 to take third place.
Oregon earned two more wins from Niki Franzmair men’s 600 and Greg Skipper in the weight throw. Franzmair edged out Ricky Morgan of USC at the line in 1:18.37 while Skipper returned to the weight throw after an All-American year and scoring fifth-place points at the NCAA Championships. The senior threw 70-9.75 (21.58m) in his first attempt of the finals, winning the competition by more than 12 feet.
The Ducks received a pair of runner-up performances in the women’s middle-distances as Alli Cash became the NCAA leader in the women’s mile, clocking a time of 4:37.26 while becoming the sixth-fastest indoor miler in Oregon history. Senior Annie Leblanc was the second-place finisher in the women’s 1,000, moving up from 800 meters to finish the unique distance in 2:45.40.
In the women’s weight throw, Brittany Mann set a big personal best, finishing second with a mark of 62-0.25 (18.90m). The mark is third on the Oregon all-time list and was more than two feet better than her previous record set in 2014.
Dual sport athlete Tony Brooks-James began his transition to the track by making the final of the 60, running 6.79 in both the semifinal and final, taking second overall and finishing as the top college athlete in the field. He was joined in the final by Travonn White who competed in his first meet as a Duck. White ran his fastest time of 6.87 in the semifinal before finishing fifth in the final, clocking in at 6.93.
“For our athletes to go out there and set some personal records and get some wins is all we could ask for in an early season meet like this,” Johnson said. “It was good to see them get out there and compete against someone other than their own teammates.”
Oregon will travel cross-country for their next meet in Fayetteville, Ark., at the Razorback Invitational, Jan. 29-30.