Wow, talk about having one’s perceptions changed. Chris Brown reviews a book written by Ray Goff’s first defensive coordinator and is effusive with praise about the man’s work.
– Winning Defensive Football, by Richard Bell. I had never heard of this book until recently, which is surprising because it’s excellent. (It lands the award for “Best Technical Football Book” that I read this year.) Bell was the defensive coordinator at Air Force for 11 seasons up to 2006, and before that served as defensive coordinator for Georgia, Navy, Texas Tech and West Virginia, and was the head coach at South Carolina for one season. The book is not a narrative book so much as it is a defensive playbook, laying out in copious detail (the book description touts “over 1,000 diagrams”) 400 pages that describe Bell’s 3-4 defense, from run fits to technique to coverages. It’s also all quite modern: the blitz package was excellent and detailed, and the sections on coverages go over not only Bell’s main coverages (Cover 1, Cover 3, Cover 2 and his match-read Quarters concepts, Cover 4 and Cover 6), but also how they each adapt to various offensive formations and route combinations and pre-snap calls and checks for the defense).
My only criticism is that there’s been so much change in football in the last ten years I was at times left wondering how Bell might have adapted some of his defensive calls to, say, a hurry up-tempo spread that used the zone read and packaged plays/run-pass options, in the same way that he has sections on defending the more traditional triple option. But that’s also what the book was about: giving a coach the tools to think through those problems rather than answers in a box. The bottom line is this is a must buy for any defensive coach at really any level, as well as for any offensive coach who wants to better understand a modern, multiple defense.
My impression at the time (and, hell, until I read Chris’ review) was that Bell’s hire was simply Goff’s way of returning a favor, as Goff coached on Bell’s staff at South Carolina. But it appears from this that Bell was a more than competent defensive mind, which means between him and Wayne McDuffie, who, I will always maintain, was the most underrated coordinator ever to coach at Georgia, Goff had the makings of a first rate staff.
And yet, there was very little in the end to show for that, outside of the ’92 team that fell just a few points short against Tennessee and Florida of contending for a national title. Maybe Ray Goff was that snakebit.