Woody eager to install attacking 3-4 defense at Georgia Tech
ATLANTA (AP) — Nate Woody isn’t looking for guys who sit back and react.
He’s all about being in attack mode.
Georgia Tech formally introduced its new defensive coordinator on Tuesday, hoping he can instill the same sort of aggressive style that worked so well at Appalachian State.
Woody plans to switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 alignment, and he made it clear what kind of player fits best.
“One of the things I’ve tried to do is make sure we don’t have guys who eat up space,” he said. “I’ve found that offensive linemen are guys you want to try to attack. Defensively, you want to get guys with speed and quickness. Those guys are able to disrupt a play before the play can get underway.”
Woody replaces Ted Roof , who left his alma mater last month in what appeared to be a mutual decision. He became the co-defensive coordinator and associate head coach at North Carolina State.
Clearly, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson was not satisfied with the way his defense performed last season despite having an experienced unit that included six seniors and five juniors among the starters.
The Yellow Jackets failed to protect late leads against Tennessee and Miami , and Roof’s departure was essentially sealed with the season finale, a 38-7 loss to rival Georgia that capped a 5-6 season . Georgia Tech missed out on a bowl for the second time in three years, putting a bit of heat on Johnson as he heads into his 11th season leading the program.
With Johnson focused on the triple-option offense, Woody will be largely autonomous in running things on the defensive side.
“I don’t know anybody who has total control,” Johnson said. “But I have complete confidence in him or I wouldn’t hire him to put in his defensive scheme. I’m not going to hire someone who runs a certain scheme and then bring them in here and say, ‘No, you can’t do that, you have to do something else.’”
Woody is a 27-year coaching veteran who directed Appalachian State’s defense the past five seasons. After putting in his 3-4 scheme, the Mountaineers led the Sun Belt Conference in total defense three times and ranked among the top 30 nationally each of the past four seasons.
Appalachian State closed out this season with a 34-0 rout of Toledo in the Dollar General Bowl .
That was enough to persuade Johnson he’s got the right man to take over Georgia Tech’s up-and-down defense.
“I can see a method to the madness — what he’s trying to accomplish, how he coaches, that type of thing,” Johnson said. “I expect him to run his scheme. I’ll be watching. We’ll sit down during the week and I’ll have my suggestions within his scheme. But, no, I’m not going to micromanage or tell anyone what to do.”
Woody plans to meet with every defensive player to get their thoughts on how they would fit best within the new scheme. There likely will be at least a few position changes, and some players will train at multiple positions to increase flexibility.
As for recruiting, Woody said his background at Appalachian State and, before that, at FCS school Wofford should make him a good fit for Georgia Tech, which is surrounded by powerhouse programs that usually grab most of the top prospects.
“I’ve been at places where it wasn’t always the easiest to recruit, but we were able to find the guys we needed and made it happen,” he said. “I’m looking for a certain type of guy, and I don’t know that most of these other defenses are looking at the same guy all the time. I don’t mind taking an inch or two off a defensive lineman if he can giddy up and go. I don’t mind taking a tenth off a linebacker’s 40 time if he can process it quickly.”
Intangibles are just as important to Woody as the physical attributes.
“Defining who the best player is oftentimes up for discussion,” he said. “I’ve had success with guys who had an intense desire to play hard, get off blocks, chase the football, and come back and do it again consistently. Those are the guys I enjoy coaching.”