Bob Shoop’s Defense Isn’t Perfect, But Produces When It Matters Most
Bob Shoop is respected within coaching circles around the country, and his defensive genius is paralleled by few. His schemes allow members of his unit to be successful, but they’re just one facet of the grand picture. The product of good coaching is effective execution, and that’s exactly how Shoop operates – by coaching his players to the highest degree, with the on-field production taking care of itself.
Another word that can be used to describe Shoop’s defense is “resiliency,” and that element shone in a big way against a Maryland team full of grit and seeking a win in its home state. Faced with numerous fourth down situations – ones that could’ve significantly altered the outcome of the game – the defense never once backed down, keeping Maryland in check and executing Shoop’s plan to perfection. Linebacker Jason Cabinda can attest to the unit’s relentless mindset better than anyone, seeing as he’s blossomed into the defense’s heart and soul in Nyeem Wartman-White’s absence.
Cabinda spoke of the team’s mindset as a whole, specifically pinpointing the final drives Maryland strung together at the tail end of the game.
“Really those last four or five drives could’ve been game-enders, so the mindset we took was one of ‘It’s on us,’” he said. “We were up by one point for what felt like the whole fourth quarter,” Cabinda said. “It was just back and forth, really about who wanted it most, and we were able to come out on top with a great win for our team.”
Though the defense has remained remarkably stout and consistent while the offense continues its sporadic trend of getting hot and cooling off, there’s no hiding the fact that mobile quarterbacks are this unit’s Achilles heel after struggling consistently in regards to figuring out how to contain them on the ground.
“I think teams are starting to do different things here and there, guys have been out of gaps now and then,” Cabinda said. “We’re fitting up some runs well, I just don’t think we’re tackling well really. What we need to do is return to fundamental football in that aspect and get our pads on guys better. It’s not how we’re fitting things, rather the way we’re doing them.”
While the mobile quarterback threat seems to plague the Lions each time they face it, Cabinda noted that while the team didn’t play perfectly throughout the game, it played “winning football,” encapsulating the most important takeaway of the game. That statement hits the nail on the head. Yes, the defense had its fair share of lapses, be it judgmentally or executional. But the defense also produced when it needed to, be it the John Reid forced fumble to stifle Maryland’s early momentum, the Trevor Williams interception on a critical fourth and short, or the Malik Golden interception to seal the deal. The defense did what it needed to do to ensure victory, and that’s the bottom line.
Anthony Zettel shared a similar sentiment, highlighting the team’s end result as definitive proof of the effect good coaching can have on a defense, and how that can translate when its back is against the wall.
“It’s a street fight out there, so when something like that happens and you keep going out there and getting turnovers, that was huge,” Zettel said. “Coach Shoop gives us the candy icebreakers whenever we make turnovers, and while they may have scored 30 points, when the game was on the line we came through, and that’s what great defenses do.”