Brady Hoke has been all across the country, putting his magic touch on lackluster defenses. Hoke has a knack for fielding teams that are strong at the point of attack and are known for fundamentally sound tackling. As Hoke takes over as Oregon’s new defensive coordinator for the demoted Don Pellum, Oregon fans hope for a better defensive output from a team who ranked 5th in the nation in scoring but a dismal 117th in points allowed.
Hoke brings change to an Oregon defense that has struggled to make plays throughout the 2015 season. One key element to watch in the upcoming games is how well Oregon’s front seven adapt to Hoke’s 4-3 scheme, a transition from the 3-4 set used in 2015. The defensive line will be a big question mark this season with the loss of Pac-12 defensive player of the year DeForest Buckner and defensive tackle Alex Balducci.
"I believe that's where the game is played," Hoke said. "By trade I've been a defensive line coach. How we play up front, that definitely will determine how we play as a defense."
Local product Henry Mondeaux was the lone underclassman in the defensive line starting rotation in 2015. His leadership will be something to watch as Oregon will be forced to depend on multiple budding yet unproven defensive linemen.
Hoke will look to simplify the Oregon defense as a whole. One simplification will be the removal of the two-gap approach for a one-gap scheme. This means linemen will no longer be expected to read which of their two potential gaps to fill but rather attack from pre-snap gap called from Hoke upstairs.
Hoke has proven his somewhat simpler approach works. A few of Hoke’s many accolades include Big Ten, Mid-American and Mountain West conference coach of the year, along with two top five national recruiting classes at Michigan.
Perhaps some of the best proof of Hoke’s defensive prowess can be seen in his years at Michigan. Hoke improved a Michigan defense that allowed 450.8 yards per game (ranked 110th in FBS) to a formidable defense that ranked 7th in the country surrendering only 311.3 yards per contest in his last season with the Wolverines.
After an Alamo Bowl where Oregon surrendered a 31-0 halftime lead, Oregon fans hope Hoke can get Oregon’s defense back to fundamentals.