The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Shoop, Lukabu see talent on MSU’s defense

Kelly Price | MSU Communications

Bob Shoop spoke to the media covering MSU for the first time last Wednesday afternoon.

While football head coach Joe Moorhead plans on calling the plays and running the offense, he introduced his defensive play caller, Bob Shoop, in a press conference last Wednesday. 

Shoop has spent the last two seasons as the defensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee. Before then, he spent two seasons running the defense at Pennsylvania State University and three seasons at Vanderbilt University.

In his three seasons at Vanderbilt, his teams finished 19th, 22nd and 26th in total defense. At Penn State, his defenses finished second and 15th in total defense.

Shoop, a graduate of Yale, is expected to run a 4-2-5 defense but said he will tailor his scheme to the talent on his roster instead of the forcing a square peg into a round hole.

“Rather than recruit players to fit a scheme, you try to tailor your scheme to what your players can do,” Shoop said.

However, he did make one of his defensive philosophies clear.

“What is non-negotiable is we are going to be in your face. I truly believe in that,” Shoop said. “The phrase we’ve adopted on the defensive side of the ball is hunt: HTB, hunt the ball. We want to hunt the ball in everything we’re doing.”

He inherited a defense which finished last season ninth in total defense and boasts two first-team All-SEC players in defensive lineman Jeffrey Simmons and Montez Sweat.

“There’s a bunch of guys up front where we can run eight, nine or 10 guys up front,” Shoop said. “We have as much depth up front as any place I have ever been, and I don’t feel like there is a significant drop-off between those guys.”

Shoop will also coach the safeties, which is led by TaxSlayer Bowl MVP Mark McLaurin. Shoop said he felt McLaurin has changed since his performance in the bowl game.

“When I observe him, he’s taken his bowl game and it’s helped him grow,” Shoop said. “His confidence has grown significantly. I didn’t know him prior to this, but I get the impression that he is a different person. He’s taken a leadership role to the next level and it’s been exciting.”
On the defensive side of the ball, MSU retained two of their assistant coaches in Terrell Buckley, who coaches corners, and Brain Baker, who coaches the defensive line.

“I’m excited that we’re able to retain Bake (Brain Baker) and Buck (Terrell Buckley),” Shoop said. “They’ve been a great resource for me learning the lay of the land and the landscape of things.”

To coach the linebackers, Moorhead brought in former San Francisco 49ers defensive quality control coach Tem Lukabu. The biggest difference between the NFL and college is recruiting. Lukabu said his NFL experience will help him in recruiting players.

“Number one, the guys we are going to target are the guys that want to play professionally,” Lukabu said. “In my experience, those guys want to play under coaches that know what it takes to get there, and then number two, what it takes to stay in the professional ranks.”

Lukabu also talked about what made him want to leave the NFL and come back to the college ranks.

“I wanted to work with Joe Moorhead again, I worked with him briefly at Fordham University,” Lukabu said. “He brought me on as defensive coordinator, then I got an opportunity to go to the NFL; so in the back of my mind if I had another great opportunity to work with him, I knew I would be very aggressive in taking that job.”

MSU has young talent at linebacker in Leo Lewis, Willie Gay and Erroll Thompson. Lukabu was asked if MSU has future NFL players at linebacker.

“There is no question, you can see it from afar,” Lukabu said. “The roster that is here. It is ready to win. The talent is here, the desire is here and the work ethic is here.”

Lukabu and Shoop will have their first real look at MSU’s defense on March 20, when MSU opens up spring practice. They will practice five straight weeks and then scrimmage in the annual Maroon and White Spring Game April 21.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Reflector

Your donation will support the student journalists of Mississippi State University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Reflector

Comments (0)

All The Reflector Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Shoop, Lukabu see talent on MSU’s defense