South Carolina took a big step toward fixing its defensive woes today. The Gamecocks hired Jon Hoke, recently of the Chicago Bears, to run their defense. Well, they hired him to be a co-coordinator with Lorenzo Ward. At the press conference earlier today, Coach Spurrier stated that Hoke would be the primary defensive play caller.
Apparently the co-coordinators are going to work together on running the defense. From Coach Spurrier at the press conference we learned Hoke will be in charge of the back groups, linebackers and secondary, and Ward will be in charge of the front seven. Which means that who exactly will be in charge of the linebackers?
In addition to sharing the play calling duties and apparently the linebackers the two will split responsibility for defending the pass and the run. Ward will be responsible for most run defense, and Hoke gets the passing game.
Forgive my skepticism, but this doesn’t sound great. Hiring Hoke sounds good; I’m optimistic about that, but what situation is being created here? Why isn’t Hoke bringing some of his own guys? Why isn’t Hoke also being made clearly in charge? You didn’t even have to demote Ward to do that. Hoke could have simply been assistant head coach for defense.
Then the split responsibilities, how is that going to work? South Carolina’s defense was all kinds of disappointing last year, but some of the worst moments were in run defense. Kentucky running the wildcat repeatedly was an especially low point of the season. After the game Coach Ward took responsibility for that train wreck himself. While taking responsibility is certainly an admirable trait, is that the track record that got Coach Ward control of run defense?
I think this could go one of two ways. This could all be to save face for Lorenzo Ward. There’s no need to publicly shame the man; he doesn’t have to be demoted or made to pay penance. And if that’s the case, and Hoke will actually be running the show, completely, then I’m a lot more comfortable with this set up. However, if there is going to be an effort to really split the duties, we can all look forward to late play calls getting into the game, burned time outs and general confusion on the field.