Today, in “who knew?”

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.



Filed under Georgia Football

12 responses to “Today, in “who knew?”

  1. Granthams replacement

    Goff could recruit but was a horrible gameday coach. The 1993 UF rekick in the monsoon, punting to carolina late in the game with time on the play clock and 1995 auburn calling timeout on fourth down when auburn was going to punt are some painful examples.


  2. JasonC

    Coach Bell was a class act. I remember being able to talk with him a few times about defensive strategy and he was always patient and willing to share. Glad to see him being able to share with others.


  3. Mark

    I seem to remember a lot of depth issues on the DL and that UGA struggled to keep kids in school during Goff’s years. Remember, that was after UGA screwed the pooch academically and was trying to make things right.


  4. The 1995 Auburn: I was 14 and knew then that timeout was a horrible decision.

    The one and only small, barely there defense I’ll offer for Goff: if we think our facilities and lack of commitment hurt Richt, then we ought to look at it back then too.

    I realize Richt was here during the arms race, but UGA’s facilities during Goff’s tenure were way behind everyone else’s, relatively speaking–particularly the weight room which was stuck in the 70s.


  5. One Play Away Ray … I don’t recall the Richard Bell days very fondly. The guy may have known defensive strategy, but he didn’t know personnel at all. All I’ll remember is Heath Shuler as a freshman taking the Vowels down the field to beat us in what could be their version of a hobnail moment.

    On Wayne McDuffie, the guy was an SOB for multiple reasons both in and out of his control, but he could flat out coach.


    • Biggus Rickus

      Maybe I’m being too generous, but don’t most coaches at that level know defensive strategy? I mean, it’s not the NFL where everyone knows and does more or less the same things, with a few details here and there (and personnel) making the difference between success and failure, but I would think in most cases you’d have to demonstrate in-depth knowledge in order to land a job as a coordinator at a major college program.


  6. Go Dawgs!

    The 1992 Georgia Bulldogs were one of the greatest teams ever to wear the red and black. That season was one of the biggest missed opportunities this school has ever had.


  7. Hogbody Spradlin

    It bears remembering that Goff was perennially rated as one of the coaches that other coaches would least like their son to play for.


  8. Mark

    Issues with depth on the DL was big but Wilson and Pledger at corner?!


  9. Helmand Dawg

    We were still feeling the effects of the Jan Kemp affair. Pres. Charles Knapp ensured that we could not take partial qualifiers like the rest of the SEC.


  10. Dawggone Truth

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned that the book is going for $150+… is it guilded in gold?