Football Handicapping: Analyzing Recent Coaching Changes
Tis’ the season for firing as multiple college and pro coaches were recently let go from their respective positions. For bettors that can mean a number of things including the potential for improved play, a change in scheme, or the waving of the white flag as next year can’t come soon enough. Let’s take a look at our casualties and what it means for each team moving forward.
Someone was going to be the fall guy for Oklahoma’s 48-45 loss to rival Texas and that someone was defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. Prior to the loss, Oklahoma’s stop unit was allowing less than 5 yards per play which placed them inside the top 40 nationally. But the Longhorns posted 501 yards at 6.68 ypp. It’s tough not to allow the occasional big yardage game, especially in the Big XII, but for a program vying for National Championships on a yearly basis, it became all too common under Stoops. In last year’s regular season loss to Iowa State, the Sooners allowed 7.61 ypp. And in the first round of the playoffs, Georgia rolled up 527 yards and 8.37 ypp en route to a 54-48 win. The top brass got tired of seeing the Sooners rank at or near the top in every offensive metric yet still be a clear notch below its fellow contenders due to a suspect stop unit. Despite the loss, Oklahoma is not out of the playoff hunt and will move forward with former East Carolina head coach and current assistant Ruffin McNeill. One report stated that the first thing on McNeill’s agenda was to offer a more positive attitude; hinting that perhaps Stoops’ fiery ways wore on the players. The Sooners catch a break with upcoming games against TCU and Kansas State. The Horned Frogs have failed to top 17 points in three conference games while the Wildcats ranked 9th out of 10 in the Big XII in total yardage.
Bowling Green parted ways with head coach Mike Jinks after a ninth straight loss to FBS competition dating back to last season. In 2014, Dino Babers came in and sparked the program by playing at a crazy tempo and scoring big points. The result was 18 wins over two years. After Babers departed for Syracuse, Bowling Green went out and hired Jinks who was an assistant at Texas Tech. The problem was the Red Raiders ran a completely different system and Jinks had zero experience as a coordinator let alone being a head coach. In Year 1, the Falcons went 4-8, followed by 2-10, and currently 1-6 with one of the worst power ratings in the country. And despite allowing 47.6 ppg, the university promoted defensive coordinator Carl Pelini to serve as interim head coach. Pelini you’ll remember went 5-15 during a two-year stint at Florida Atlantic. With a defensive background, perhaps we’ll see Pelini attempt to shorten the game more knowing how bad his stop unit is. The Falcons are 6-1 over/under on the season.
Over the NFL where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired defensive coordinator Mike Smith following Sunday’s 34-29 loss to his former team, the Atlanta Falcons. The Bucs are allowing a league-worst 6.9 yards per play. Smith and head coach Dirk Koetter have a long history working together but with Koetter on the hot seat, he was forced to make a change. Linebackers coach Mark Duffner will serve as the interim DC. Tampa Bay’s schedule hasn’t been easy from an opposing offense perspective with games against New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and the Falcons. The slate lightens considerably with six of their last 10 opponents currently 20th or worse in total offense.