Four underrated SEC assistant coaches

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Spring practice is an excellent time for player growth, and it’s when SEC assistants earn their money by developing returners and newcomers.

Related: SEC’s richest assistant coaches in 2013

You hear all the time about the high-profile assistant coaches like Kirby Smart, Cam Cameron and John Chavis. Today, let’s talk about four underrated assistant coaches who all happen to be coordinators.

Related: SEC’s 10 best assistant coaches in 2013

1. Mike Bobo, Georgia, Offensive Coordinator
Particulars: 39 years old, has been coaching at UGA since 2001
The Buzz: Despite success, Mike Bobo has been criticized for his offenses in the past. He’s been characterized as boring and vanilla, but his unit always puts up numbers. The SEC isn’t known as a quarterback league, per say, but Bobo thinks differently. He’s coached record-setting David Greene, DJ Shockley, Matthew Stafford and the SEC’s all-time leading passer in Aaron Murray. Georgia had a biblical amount of injuries to receivers and running backs in 2013, and the offense still put up over 36 points per game. And Bobo has loads of talent returning in 2014.

2. Geoff Collins, Mississippi State, Defensive Coordinator
Particulars: 42 years old, has been coaching at Mississippi State since 2011
The Buzz: Collins recently got a much deserved raise and extension, and MSU fans, and most importantly Dan Mullen, knew the Bulldogs had to lock Collins up. He took over the reins of the defense solely in 2013, and the Bulldogs finished as the fifth best scoring defense, only yielding 23 points per game, and finished as the SEC’s fourth best rushing defense. He’s coached under Nick Saban at Alabama, and he’s an excellent recruiter. Collins has a talented defensive unit returning in 2014, and it will be fun to see how high the Bulldogs’ defense can go.

3. Dave Steckel, Missouri, Defensive Coordinator
Particulars: 56 years old, has been coaching at Missouri since 2001
The Buzz: If you’ve learned anything about Mizzou in two seasons, it’s that Dave Steckel will put together a great defensive unit. That’s two years in a row the defense has exceeded expectations, and Steckel’s units are ball hawks. They’ve now forced a turnover in 44 consecutive games. Missouri led the league in sacks and tackles for loss, as well as takeaways. That’s dominant. The Tigers are known for developing NFL defensive linemen, and you can bet your boots they’ll reload next season, despite losing Kony Ealy and Michael Sam.

4. DJ Durkin, Florida, Defensive Coordinator
Particulars: 36 years old, has been coaching at Florida since 2010
The Buzz: That’s fine if you want to call this Will Muschamp’s defense, but would you call it Dan Quinn’s defense two years ago? (He is the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator now). DJ Durkin is just the next assistant coach who will eventually be a head coach, and he’s excelled everywhere he’s been. Sure, Florida’s offense is bad, but that shouldn’t affect Durkin. The Gators’ defense was still elite and would have been more elite if the offense could move the ball at all. Do you think it’s any coincidence the special teams started struggling after Durkin was promoted to defensive coordinator? I don’t. This guy can coach, and he’s destined to be a head coach one day.

Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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COMMENTS

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  • I used to be in the fire Bobo camp. However, over the years either he has gotten much better or I have gotten much wiser. Now I kind of dread the day he leaves. Which will probably be sooner than later for a head coaching job somewhere.

  • Missouri’s Dave Stekel is a work in progress, like all of us. He is very good at some things but significant parts of the game he has no idea how to coach yet. Missouri in the Pinkel era has been a score more than the other team to win team. Some of that has changed over the past few years. Steckel has put together some low points allowed games.

    • Agreed. I am very glad he’s on our side, but he does have some lapses (see SEC Championship Game…no answer for stopping Auburn’s RB). Mizzou will just reload on the D-line, with Shane Ray and Marcus Golden being very good last year, but they will now step into the limelight and really want to show their talents! They could be as good as the tandem of Michael Sam and Kony Ealy.

      • I see the nature of the D-line changing a little bit. Josh Augusta seems more wall like. Several new line recruits are also immoveable objects. I do agree that Missouri will not see a huge difference Ray/Golden and really several other big mobile ball sharks. I also believe the linebacker corp will become more evenly talented. The real pivot point for Missouri will be. Better pass defense=wrapping up a division title earlier. AND better quarterbacking=wrapping up a division title earlier. It’s not a stretch that the running backs could be the same or better. Nor is it a stretch that the receivers could be the same or better. AND THE WHOLE TEAM WILL HAVE TO BE BETTER BECAUSE THE WHOLE SEC WILL BE IMPROVED AGAIN. I look for the SEC to run the bowl game table next year.

  • The reason fans think Bobo is boring and vanilla is he can be boring and vanilla with some of the QB’s and RB’s he’s had. UGA has had some of the best TE’s in the country and they seem to disappear. Why does he run the smaller backs up the middle? Why call draws on 3rd and a mile or after a penalty every time?

    • Yeah, I like Bobo, but don’t understand why he hasn’t relied more on TEs recently. Then again, maybe Murray just happened to throw to WRs more. The draw on 3rd and very long is almost a given, but I seem to hear a lot of analysts call that the right play call in that scenario, so I guess I can live with it.

  • Geoff Collins is going to have a defense this year that can be top 3 in the conference. I’m glad MSU and Mullen saw fit to get him paid better to hang on to him. His defense last year got better and better as the year went on. Particularly the last 3 or four games of the season.

  • Hmm, looks like others in the SEC think more highly of Steck than Mizzou fans do. I guess that’s pretty common around the country, I suppose..?

    • Can we say instead that Josh Henson is at least as good as Steckel. AND clearly the whole SEC needed a lot Offensive improvement. It’s not a big insult to Steckel to just recognize that Missouri was the SEC East Champion but still had some games where either the Offense didn’t score enough or the defense didn’t stop enough passes or even rushing-in-the-SEC championship, or screen passes (which were hideous in the first 1/3rd of the season) and only became average in the later part). REMEMBER THAT STECK IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THE OTHER DEFENSIVE COACHES AND WHAT THEIR COACHING MAKES.

  • Is representing the East in the SEC Championship game mean you’re the Champion of something?. I also remember Ala winning a National Championship and not even playing for a SEC Championship. Bobo will stay in Athens until he’s up around the Million dollar range. .

    • Yes, winning the SEC East, the SEC West, the Big 12, the PAC divisions, the Big 10 divisions, etc. etc. etc. is a real championship of something. In your example it is the real championship of the arguably the best NCAA football division in history. That’s based on real victories not media opinions. There has never been a real NCAA Div. I, national championship. We have had, for a long time, real national championships in all the other college association divisions. You have it exactly backwards, and that’s why you remember AL playing in a fictional national championship even though they didn’t win a division or a conference. Here’s another news flash, the bowl games pay even less attention to the true champions of leagues and divisions. It’s heavily influenced by how many of the faithful will show up and spend money, plus who wants to buy adds during the games. When we get to an 8 or 16 team play-off we will have a more practical and acceptable NCAA Div. 1 Champion and you can be sure all those champions will minimize the popularity contests of the weak ‘voted in’ historical favorites.

  • I think Bobo stays in Athens as long as Richt is there. 5 kids, strong religious back ground, UGA grad etc. I just wish he would look around and see what some other teams are doing with the Offense. That Tenn game last year showed what inventive play-calling can do in short yardage situations. WR screens 9-10 times a game is not a “game plan”.

  • From what I’ve seen of Mason, there’s no running threat. If we can remember, while Murray toned down a bit after Soph year, his running kept UGA in games. UT, Auburn to name a couple. Bobo and offenive coaching will be evident come Sept.

  • Didn’t know there was a trophy presentation and a banner hung in your stadium for representing East or West? Missed that.

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