Monday, February 16, 2015

A closer look at BG's new DC

His name is Brian Ward.  You can check his bio out here, but he has been a head coach and has worked on a number of successful defenses as a position coach.  Then, he was DC at Drake (FCS) where the bio says he took over a strong defense and improved them in all national rankings.

His work at Western Illinois is cited as his real calling card.  According to the bio, they were "among the bottom of the Football Championship Subdivision in most statistical categories"when he arrived in 2012.  For 2013, here is what the bio says he had accomplished:

Ward's 2013 defense ranked seventh in the nation in total defense, while ranking third nationally in passing defense. The WIU defense also showed an incredible improvement in passing efficiency defense, tackles for loss, and sacks as Ward continued to implement his scheme during his second year.

You can check the results for yourself here.  They are all accurate, failing only to mention that WIU was also 52nd in rushing defense and 51st in scoring defense.

The 2014 summary in the bio dwells on "unprecedented performances" against Wisconsin, Northwestern and North Dakota State.  Not mentioned are national rankings, since the defense was 63rd in scoring defense, 69th in total defense, 68th in pass efficiency defense, 67th in third down conversion defense, 59th in red zone defense and 28th in rushing defense.

So, maybe the Western Illinois performance is not quite as great as it sounds.

It is a big hire.  BG lost a lot on defense--a defense which had the nation's biggest regression under the first DC Coach Babers hired.  Coach Babers says that Ward's defenses were known as "disciplined and well coached."  That's the kind of thing that will be needed, especially as a lot of new players get integrated into the scheme.

He does not have one down of FBS experience, which is not a disaster on its own.  As for his success in FBS, that's apparently subject to some interpretation, all of which will resolve itself as he works to get results at BG.

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