We Have A DC

Submitted by Brian on January 11th, 2008 at 6:38 PM

Scott Shafer, late of Stanford, is the new defensive coordinator. Coaching assignments on the D-side of the ball as follows:

Rodriguez has designated defensive coaching assignments as follows: Scott Shafer (defensive coordinator), Tony Gibson (assistant head coach/secondary), Jay Hopson (linebackers) and Bruce Tall (defensive line).

Informative update coming.

Update: Shafer's name didn't ring a bell until I saw Western Michigan on his bio. Then I was like "heyyyy... I know that guy!" Check it:

[New Stanford coach Jim] Harbaugh had never spoken to Scott Shafer when he pulled up last year's NCAA statistics on the Web. But he knew what he was looking for. Harbaugh wanted to lure a coordinator from one of the top-rated defenses.

There, at No. 11, was Harbaugh's man.

Last year, Shafer's defense at Western Michigan was ranked 11th overall, sixth against the run and first in sacks and interceptions.

When Shafer arrived two years earlier, the Mid-American Conference school was much like Stanford is now - coming off a one-win season and ranked at the bottom of nearly all defensive statistics.

"Every program he has been involved with has been a rebuild," Harbaugh said. "I just felt like you don't have to know a guy to hire him. You spend 365 days with him, you're going to be best friends after a year."

Shafer's the guy Harbaugh hired on eHarmony! I wonder if Rodriguez has met him. Presumably the answer is yes.

Anyway, Shafer's got an extensive track record as a DC. Prior to his hiring at Stanford he was Western's DC in '05 and '06, Illinois' DB coach in '04 (yikes!), and Northern Illinois' defensive coordinator from '00 to '03, and spent four years as NIU's DBs coach before that.

Statistics and whatnot:

STANFORD

Year Rush Pass Pass Eff Total Scoring Sacks
Previously 117 23 60 97 108 111
2007 77 107 84 98 65 11

WESTERN MICHIGAN

Year Rush Pass Pass Eff Total Scoring Sacks
Previously 108 108 116 115 114 --
2005 56 116 87 108 93 23
2006 6 57 34 11 39 1

NORTHERN ILLINOIS

Year Rush Pass Pass Eff Total Scoring Sacks
2000 60 53 90 53 60 --
2001 66 69 63 70 68 --
2002 38 103 55 73 49 --
2003 47 75 37 56 31 --

(Caveats: the "previously" column is not available for NIU, as the NCAA's online statistics only go back to 2000. Sacks were not tracked before 2006. Also please note that Schafer's 2005 was skewed by a 5 OT game against Ball State. (Not to excuse said D for sucking pretty hard.) Also keep in mind that MAC teams usually play at least a couple games against way more talented foes and rarely end up particularly high in the rankings.)

Amongst a sea of rather modest returns one thing stands out: holy crap does this guy like to blitz. A year after leading WMU to the most sacks in the country, he took Stanford from 111th to 11th. Other trends: the rush defense is usually better than the pass defense, sometimes significantly, and the defenses usually improve as he stays on. I guess. It's hard to tell. While his first years at Western and Stanford were abysmal, you can't blame him given the even more abysmal results his predecessor left him, and Western's turnaround in year two is impressive.

The NIU record may tell us more, as the Huskies were decent (5-6) the year before his ascension and remained decent after. His results there are decent to good given the talent level available and NIU's regularly murderous non-conference schedule: BCS teams most of the time with a rare gimme in the days before you could get away with a I-AA team every freakin' year. It's worth noting that Shafer's final year at NIU was their apex, the 10-2 season where they beat Maryland and Alabama to open the year. Maryland would finish 10-3 and sport the #27 scoring offense (#28 in yardage); NIU held them to 13 points. Alabama was much crappier at 4-9 but NIU held them to 16 points, fewer than any team save LSU and Oklahoma. Those two would meet in the (sorta) national championship game at year's end.

Yeah, NIU got shredded in losses to Toledo (with Bruce Gradkowski, so understandable) and Bowling Green (with Josh Harris and Urban Meyer -- this was the year the MAC was really freakin' good), but those teams would finish #19 and #3, respectively, in total offense.

So... I dunno. kind of a flier on a guy who put in an impressive reclamation job at Western and had a decent run at NIU, but not exactly Jon Tenuta. Bonuses: he's from Ohio, has a ton of experience in the Midwest, and he's almost unbelievably young (41) for a guy who's been DC at three different schools. Also, one of his kids is named "Wolfgang." Also also, as you can see above, he kind of looks like a Bond villain. Also also also, Jim Harbaugh's gotta be pissed.

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