I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and now that we’re back, From the Rumble Seat will be starting to hone in on a few of the candidates that we think have a pretty decent shot at replacing Ted Roof as Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator. Just a quick note, any of these names are brought on from stuff we have seen on Twitter or pure speculation. We get started with what seems to be the most popular name mentioned for the job: Appalachian State Defensive Coordinator Nate Woody.
Prior to coming to his current job at Appalachian State, Nate Woody was the defensive coordinator at his alma mater, Wofford. According to his bio page on App State’s website, “In his 13 seasons at the helm of his alma mater's defense, Woody built one of the Southern Conference's most successful units. Wofford led the SoCon in total defense three times under Woody's direction, including twice in the last three campaigns (2010 and 2012), and produced nine all-Americans and three SoCon Defensive Players of the Year.” So far, it looks like we are off to a strong start with Woody.
After coming to App State, Woody installed his hybrid 3-4/5-2 style defense. The year before he got there, the Mountaineers’ defense ranked eighth out of nine in total defense in the Southern Conference (FCS). To compare, that same defense has ranked at the top of the Sun Belt Conference (FBS) the last three seasons.
For just a quick look at some of the individual defensive statistics, just take a look below.
Just looking at how many players caused some kind of disruption, whether it be tackles for loss, sacks, interceptions, or fumbles, it looks like this could be a really fun defense to watch.
Speaking of that, let’s talk a little bit more about that defense. I mentioned earlier that it’s a bit of a hybrid between a 3-4 and a 5-2. By that, I mean that like any 3-4 defense, you have your three down linemen and four linebackers. It works as a hybrid, because those linebackers can also act as defensive ends, so you may see some plays where those linebackers put a hand in the dirt.
A 3-4 defense? Isn’t that what we ran disastrously under Al Groh all those years ago? Why the [Foghat] would we go back to such an absurd defense? Luckily, there are some differences between the way that Groh and Woody run their 3-4 defenses. The main difference is that with Groh runs what is called a “two-gap” defense. X’s O’s Football has a really good description of what a two-gap defensive lineman does:
A two gap technique requires more discipline on the part of the defender. A defensive lineman is responsible for both the A and B gaps on his side of the field. His job is not so much to crash through a gap as to read the play, anticipate which gap a running back might choose, and clog it. A two gap defender must quickly diagnose the blocking scheme to determine which of his gaps is more vulnerable. A two gap defensive lineman is expected to take blockers head on and defend the gaps over each of their shoulders. Two gap technique requires a defensive lineman to fill between two offensive lineman and thus plugging two gaps ... Two gap defenders are generally slower, bigger, and not as good of pass rushers one gap technique defenders are. Two gap defensive tackles are larger stronger defensive linemen who can control an offensive lineman, allowing the linebackers to make tackles.
Tech’s biggest problem with that was that they never really had the personnel to run this defense, and it often caused a lot of confusion as it is a bit more of a complex scheme. Woody’s defense is a bit different in that it’s a more aggressive style of the 3-4 defense, where the linemen attack first without as much pre-snap analysis.
Here’s a quick look at how I think Tech’s defense would look with a switch to a 3-4:
Georgia Tech 3-4 Defense
The biggest struggle will be trying to figure out depth at linebacker since we would be going from a base defense with two linebackers to a base defense with four linebackers. We would also end up having a few players play out of position, since our entire defensive roster would have been recruited to play a 4-2-5 defense.
Rivals did not have much in terms of recruiting history for Nate Woody, but going over to 247Sports, I was able to find a little bit more information. Woody is currently credited with six commitments in his time at Appalachian State (Roof is credited with 11 in his time at Tech, one of those being Myles Autry). Recruiting services can be pretty finicky, especially with smaller schools, such as App State, so it can be difficult to get a solid look on what he can do recruiting-wise. Looking at the locations of those guys, it seems that Woody primarily recruited pretty locally for App State, with most of them coming from North or South Carolina.
I think Nate Woody would be a very welcome change for the Georgia Tech defense. There might be an awkward transition to his 3-4 defense, but I think he would be able to get his personnel and system in place. The thing that I like most about Woody’s defense is that it is a much more aggressive style of play that Roof’s. To be honest, that alone makes me want to give him a shot.
What do you think of Nate Woody?