In order to understand if calls to fire Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi are warranted, we must first discuss the role of the Defensive Coordinator and clearly define the job.
So, let's start with a joke. An engineer works at a company for over 30 years and finally retires. After he retires a machine that he had worked on during his career breaks down. The company tries to fix the machine, but has no luck. So they call the engineer and request that he come back in and fix the machine. He comes in one day, looks at the machine for about an hour, then pulls out a piece of chalk and puts an X onto one of the components of the machine. He tells the company to replace that part. The company agrees, replaces the part and the machine is working again. The company asks the engineer to send in a bill for his work. The engineer sends in a bill for $50,000. The company sees the bill and is surprised at how much it is so they ask the engineer to create an itemized invoice. The engineer agrees and sends in the invoice. The invoice reads
Knowing where to use the chalk $49,999
A DC is paid to teach the defense to act like a unit. How to read and react to a play. To review game film of his team and his opponents. To create a game plan. To identify a scheme to use. To put his players in positions to make plays. The most important thing a DC is paid for though is for half time adjustments. That is where a DC proves his worth.
Ray Rhodes is a former NFL player and head coach. He has been a DC for many teams. The reasons for this is half time adjustments. Rhodes does not make them. The Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos fired him because he would not make half time adjustments. He then became the DC of the Seattle Seahawks and was eventually demoted to Defensive Assistant. You do not get demoted for doing a good job.
The proof for the value of a DC's half time adjustment is available, and unfortunately for the Spartans, it comes from Michigan. Michigan's new DC is Greg Robinson. He won two Superbowls as a DC with the Denver Broncos and was the DC when the KC Chiefs were coached by Dick Vermeil and went to the playoffs. He is a bad head coach, but a quality DC. The last three Michigan games show why.
|Opponent||1st Half||2nd Half|
ND put up over 450 yards against Michigan. Almost two thirds of that offense was in the first half. So, Michigan did something in the second half that drastically reduced ND's ability to move the ball. The same held true for EMU and Indiana. That is three consecutive games where the Michigan defense performed significantly better in the second half compared to the first half. And with giving up less yards, their defense also gives up less scoring opportunities.
MSU DC and Half Time Adjustments, the stats speak for themselves.
|Opponent||1st Half||2nd Half|
The only game that sticks out to me is Wisconsin, and that is because they were trying to kill the clock for most of the 4th quarter thereby slowing their second half production. After doing the MSUFR on the defense for CMU, ND and Wisconsin, I did not notice any change to the scheme between the first and second half. Either MSU is not making any, or they are exceptionally ineffective.
As of right now, it does not look like Narduzzi is a very good DC. However, the MSU defense did add new wrinkles for the game with the Badgers. The team could be having problems picking up the scheme and the DC is keeping it simple and slowly adding new formations, blitzes, etc. We honestly do not know enough about the defense until probably 8 games into the season. Then I think the calls for a change at DC would be legitimate.