Rose tending to blooming UT defenseWritten by Scott Calhoun | | firstname.lastname@example.org
New UT defensive coordinator Tim Rose has watched MAC football evolve tremendously during the last 22 years.
The Cleveland-area native was head coach at Miami of Ohio from 1983-89, leading the RedHawks to a MAC championship in 1986, a season highlighted by the team’s huge upset win against then-No. 8 ranked LSU.
But whereas the MAC once was a defense-minded conference with the running game predominating offensive playbooks, Rose now steps into a league characterized by massive aerial assaults and WAC-style scoring onslaughts. With a season-ending showdown against the high-scoring BGSU offense and Heisman candidate QB Omar Jacobs looming as Toledo’s final hurdle to another conference crown, Rose may hold the key to the team’s title defense.
UT head coach Tom Amstutz has full confidence in Rose.
“Every place Tim has gone he’s always improved their defense,” Amstutz said.
Rose has led previous units to top 20 defensive rankings five times during a career that has included stints at Minnesota, Boston College, Memphis, Cincinnati and most recently at Louisiana Tech.
Rose also engineered recent defensive success against MAC offensive attacks while serving as defensive coordinator at Eastern Michigan in 2003. He improved a defense ranked 117th in Division I in 2002 to one ranked 76th in total defense and 87th in scoring D the next year. Not too shabby, considering Eastern squared off that season against three of the nation’s highest-scoring teams and combated all year against the MAC.
“We’re looking forward to him doing the same thing at Toledo,” Amstutz said, referring to the team’s need for defensive improvement from last season, when Rockets end zone guardians yielded 404 points, including 63 points each to Minnesota and Kansas; 41 to BG; and 39 in the Motor City Bowl against Connecticut.
Amstutz and Rose appear to be on the same page in their belief that an imaginative defense full of surprises will be successful.
“Tim has great insight and a unique defensive scheme that we’re really looking forward to having on the field this year,” Amstutz said.
“Tom is not afraid to be creative and he wants to do a lot of different things,” Rose said.
Rose said that means keeping a good deal of the 4-4 defense used by the Rockets in years past but installing more of his 3-4 looks while mixing in some new features he’s been developing to help keep things in the dark for opponents.
Shannon no stranger to Amstutz, team
When Rob Spence vacated the offensive coordinator position at UT last January to assume the same role under Terry Bowden at Clemson, head coach Tom Amstutz quickly decided keeping things at home would be the truest path in continuing the team’s nationally recognized offensive success.
Enter former wide receivers coach John Shannon.
In the past two years under Shannon’s mentoring, the receiving corps built a lofty resume of success. Rockets receivers hauled in a school record 24.8 receptions per game in 2003 followed by an encore performance of 23.7 receptions per contest last year with 28 touchdown grabs. Heading Shannon’s receiver charge was Lance Moore, who as a junior in ‘03 paced the nation with an MAC tied-record 103 receptions, then painted his senior year with 90 more grips and a school record 14 TDs.
Shannon has 27 years of college coaching experience, with 18 of those as a coordinator on offense or defense, including a gig as offensive coordinator at Jackson State from 1994-2000, where he earned honors as I-AA Offensive Coordinator of the Year in 1999 and I-AA Assistant Coach of the Year in 2000. For Amstutz, the resume spoke for itself and made his fellow staff member the obvious go-to guy.
“John’s been a big part of our offense the last two years and he understands our scheme. He’s a proven coordinator and gives us a chance to continue with the same style and flow of our offense that made it highly successful in the nation last year,” Amstutz said. “He has a good grasp of every concept of our offense and has been a big part of game planning over the last two years, so it was a natural transition to go with him.”
That means Rockets’ players, fans and opponents can expect a familiar and effective offensive attack.
“Our philosophy offensively is not going to change. The things we do as far as running and throwing the football aren’t going to change drastically,” Shannon said. “We’ve got good leadership from our players with Bruce Gradkowski and Trinity Dawson voted as team captains on offense, so we’re excited about them leading us this year. We expect good things from our offense.”