Arkansas State has enjoyed a lot of success on the defensive side of the football over the past few years, and new defensive coordinator David Duggan is tasked with making sure that success continues.
Duggan said he's excited to get the job offer from Blake Anderson due to working with Anderson at previous locations, and he knew it was a no-brainer to sign on with ASU.
“Blake and I go back a couple of different stops, and it was a no brainer for me from knowing Blake as a person,” Duggan said. “We had always talked about working together prior to this, but the first opportunity didn’t work out when he got to Arkansas State because I had just taken the defensive coordinator job at Southern Miss, so at that time it was impossible. Now it was a time in my career where I could make it work, and when he offered it I was like ‘Okay, this is a no brainer.' I know he is a great football coach, so I am excited about the opportunity.”
Duggan said that everything he knew about Arkansas State helped to attract him to the job.
“Obviously, the success of the football program, you want to be a part of that,” Duggan said. “The excitement around and energy around the football program with the new facilities, Terry Mohajir’s energy, Blake, and everything about Jonesboro was just a great opportunity, and I couldn’t pass it up.”
Duggan knows the Red Wolf defense has enjoyed a lot of success in recent years and said that he is here to build upon that success.
“They have done a great job here and I am just here to build upon the success they have already had,” Duggan said. “When you watch them on film they are well coached and they play hard. The foundation is here, and I’m just trying to add to it.”
Duggan spoke about his plans for the defense once spring ball gets underway on Tuesday.
“Our installation is going to be very minimal because we want to get them to understand the things I believe you have to do to be successful,” Duggan said.
“It is a state of mind right now where we use the phrase a lot ‘is your brain on fire’? In college sports it has to be on fire. The formations that everybody is giving you, the shifts, the jets, the fly’s, all of the above in the RPO world, are you dialed in to concentrate and to win that play. It is easy when you are better than a team to get by with a mistake or get by with a lack of concentration, but when you are even with a team and the game is close, the team that can concentrate and understand the energy and communication – that is the difference in winning or losing those games. I just want to make sure they understand that this spring.
“The starting point is to make sure that they know how we expect their body language, their stance, their communication to be. Your brain is on fire, and that is how it is going to be done. Then the base concept of things that we know we are going to use will be the next step. We are not going to put in much this spring. We want to make sure we have the mentality of concentration and communication, then make sure we get the depth to our defense created by pursuit. We are going to over-coach pursuit and turnovers, and not concentrate as much on scheme – but when we do work on scheme it is going to be at a high level of concentration.”
Duggan described the style of defense he plans to bring to Arkansas State as well.
“There are only so many ways that you can move people around defensively in today’s college football,” Duggan said. “I want to make sure our guys are going to play hard and fast, and be complicated enough to not be predictable. You can’t oversimplify it. It has to be complex enough that teams can’t scheme you, but your guys also have to be able to execute. There is a fine line of being complex enough that we are going to give you the same look, but also be multiple enough that we aren’t going to make it easy for offenses – yet your guys have to execute and play hard.”
One key thing that will help is having guys with solid playing time returning to help lead the defense.
“That is big," Duggan said. "I’ve gone into a lot of programs where you were rebuilding. We went from Southern Miss where we went 12-2 and won a conference championship, then went to North Carolina and the bottom fell out and they went 0-12,” said Duggan.
“It was like the energy was sucked out of the air like a black cloud went over the place in just a year. But here there is a lot of excitement built around the program. There are guys who have played a lot of football and there is a lot of carryover there. They have played in games before and there is a confidence that you can build on what is here. It isn’t where you have to watch a guy to see what they can do in a game situation, I have been watching them on film from last year, so that is the nice part of this job.
“I’m very fortunate to have the players that we have in place, and I’m more fortunate to have a really good coaching staff that is with me to help me as well. I’ve basically worked with Ed Pinkham my whole career. He recruited me and he is here with me. We speak the same language and have the same philosophy.
"Then, I inherited Allen Johnson, Nick Paremski, and Brandon Joiner who know the ins and outs of the players, the school, and practice. The whole transition has been where I have been very fortunate to walk in where you have players who have played before, they know how to do it. I have a great staff, so it is just making sure we keep it righted and going in the right direction. There will be subtle changes here and there, but I have walked into a good situation.”