Potential Defensive Coordinator Profile: Jay Hopson

Prior to serving as Michigan’s linebackers coach in 2008, Jay Hopson spent the previous three years as the Defensive Coordinator and Secondary Coach at the University of Southern Mississippi. Of course, I believe we can get into this discussion without getting sidetracked into an exploration of why he went from secondary at USM to linebackers at Michigan. No?
OK, tangent time:
As Scott Shafer is held responsible for the poor play by Michigan’s defense this year by people who, no offense, clearly weren’t paying enough attention this year, let’s look at something. Tony Gibson was the safeties coach, and Michigan’s safeties were pitiful this year, even compared to the historical standard. Would it have made more sense for Shafer to only serve as DC and let Hopson take control of the secondary (check out his credentials as a secondary coach from MGoBlue:

Prior to his appointment as defensive coordinator, Hopson coached the defensive backs for the Golden Eagles from 2001-03. In 2002, his unit led the nation in fewest passing touchdowns allowed and finished fourth nationally in pass efficiency defense. Southern Mississippi led C-USA and finished fifth nationally in pass defense during the 2003 season. Each year of his tenure, USM ranked in the top 15 nationally in scoring defense.)

, while finding a good linebackers coach instead of having Tony Gibson turn Stevie Brown and Brandon Harrison into (or, “let them remain,” as it were) nightmares in the defensive backfield? Almost certainly yes. Lloyd Carr was criticized for year for refusing to fire Mike DeBord and Andy Moeller. Tony Gibson (admittedly, in only one year to effect change) has so far proven to be no more effective, and retaining him forced other coaches out of their areas of expertise.

End Tangent.

Back to the point. If Hopson is to become Michigan’s defensive coordinator, it is certainly relevant to see how his teams performed during his time at the same position for Southern Miss.

Jay Hopson: USM D-Coordinator
Category 2005 2006 2007
Rushing Defense 73 50 43
Pass Efficiency Defense 78 21 59
Pass Defense 75 26 67
Sacks 34 81 49
Tackles For Loss 63 50 51
Total Defense 73 30 48
Scoring Defense 33 28 41

So, in all, acceptable but not thrilling numbers (keep in mind USM’s non-conference games were often against teams with much better talent).

So when the numbers don’t tell a definitive tale, we go to someone who watched the games with an analytical eye, and get his opinion. If only there was a great CFB blogger who also happened to be a Southern Miss grad. Wait a minute, we’re in luck! The venerable SMQ/Dr. Saturday on Hopson:

At a sparsely attended game like Saturday’s, USM fans have pretty much free reign on the field afterwards, and SMQ took the North end zone as a shortcut to his car. When he ran across Hopson en route to the locker room, he told the coach, “Nice job hanging tough by the defense,” which was not much consolation but was true: it gave up a couple drives, including the 60-yard, game-tying march over the final four minutes of regulation, but it also scored as many touchdowns as either offense, on a length-of-field interception return by no-name Eddie Hicks that momentarily turned the tide at the end of a frustrating ECU drive, and held the Pirates to the field goal attempt in the overtime after allowing them to get first-and-goal at the three…
In regulation, USM’s defense allowed 10 points (the first ECU touchdown was a kick return) and about 275 yards. It gave up no true big plays. You have to be able to win with that.

So, happy but not enthused, just as the stats would imply. Interestingly, Hopson seems to be a proponent of the 3-4 defense (with one of the linebacker positions occupied by a safety) that Michigan saw this year in its “Okie” package, rather than a true 3-3-5 stack. How much of the tension between position coaches would this change actually alleviate? That certainly remains to be seen. For more from SMQ, check out Brian’s post from yesterday.

Of course, now that Michigan followers are attempting to pick apart Hopson’s resume for any relevant information, someone else will be appointed coordinator, and this will all have been a waste.

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1 Comment so far

  1. Steve says...

    Coach Hopson is a joke. I played at USM from 03-07. Hopson only had the “creditials” because of Tyrone Nix!! When Tyrone left at the end of 2004 you can definately tell the difference. He is a jack@$$, talks in 3rd person and told a linebacker at USM he didnt give a f*** about him he just cared about Jay Hopson.

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