Aug. 24, 2011
Aggressive, aggressive, aggressive.
Listing the word three times was probably overkill, but it should be a good primer for Vanderbilt fans, who can expect to see the adjective used often this fall in reference to the team's defense.
And that is exactly what Defensive Coordinator Bob Shoop wants to hear.
"I certainly don't believe in bend but don't break," Shoop said. "I believe in trying to dictate tempo. I think we will be a very aggressive defense."
Shoop's coaching style has been evident in preseason camp with the increase in blitz packages dialed up in 11-on-11 drills.
The centerpiece of Shoop's defense is senior linebacker Chris Marve. The SEC's current all-time tackles leader, Marve, will play in the middle of Shoop's 4-3 base defense.
"Whatever the defense is, you need that guy; that Ray Lewis-type personality in the middle that is a tremendous leader with a high football IQ, extremely intelligent and is an outstanding player," Shoop said.
While the Commodores will feature a 4-3 primary defense, Shoop will also utilize a 3-3, 3-4 or a 4-2-5 depending on the situation and personnel. During games, Shoop will call assignments from the press box as opposed to on the sideline like many coordinators.
"When I watch film, that is the view I have," Shoop said. "It is a more sterile setting. I can have my notes in front of me and I feel like it is most similar to me watching film during the course of the week. It gives me a chance to step back from the action and be a problem solver and decision maker, and hopefully make good decisions and put us in a good position."
Shoop joined James Franklin's staff in January after spending the 2007-10 seasons as defensive coordinator at William & Mary. A graduate of Yale, Shoop previously served as a head coach at Columbia from 2003-05 and has also had coaching stops at Massachusetts, Boston College, Army, Villanova, Northeastern and Virginia in addition to getting his start as a graduate assistant at his alma mater. During his time in the profession, he has been on the winning sideline for three of football's most storied rivalries: Army-Navy, Harvard-Yale and Boston College-Notre Dame.
His wide array of experience at different schools, including his time as a head coach, has provided him a diverse perspective as a coordinator that many other coaches do not possess.
"Once you've been a head coach, you get a feeling for big picture thinking," Shoop said. "If asked, maybe I can help in some way with game management. I've done those type of things, albeit at the Ivy League level and not in the SEC, but football is football.
"I think that I think more like a head coach than a defensive coordinator. I think I have a good handle on those types of things. I appreciate times during practice that may not be beneficial to the defense, but I understand what Coach Franklin is thinking because he has to think about 103 people, not just one side of the ball."
Shoop's coaching style has also been molded by his brother, John, who is in his fifth year as the offensive coordinator at North Carolina. John previously worked in the NFL with the Raiders, Bears, Bucs and Panthers.
John also provided his brother with an inside look at Vanderbilt's program when he was weighing the Commodore offer. A former quarterback at Sewanee, John served as a graduate assistant on Vanderbilt's staff from 1992-94 under Gerry DiNardo.
"John gave me a feel for some of the key people and things that are unique to Vanderbilt," Shoop said. "We have similar values and it has always been important to us to work at schools that have a nice blend of academics and athletics. He knew that was important to me and he knew that I really aspired to get back to the Division I level."
Now, approximately eight months since arriving on campus, Shoop couldn't be happier, and he is excited to put his fingerprints on Vanderbilt's defense.
"I like to be a teacher and I like to communicate," Shoop said. "Our student-athletes are unique and special, and I'm glad I've received the opportunity to work with them."