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