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60 days to football: Bob Shoop gave up some big plays, but will it get better?




Every day from 99 days out (May 25) until kickoff, I'll put up a post telling you how many days until kickoff and breaking down something about the upcoming season related to that number.  


Today, since we are 60 days away from kickoff, we take a look at: Over Bob Shoop's two years at Tennessee, his defenses allowed 60 plays of 30 or more yards. How does that rank in the conference, how did teams do it and does MSU have the personnel to fix the issues? 




So allowing 60 plays of 30 yards or more over two years is not the worst -- Arkansas allowed 40 in 2016 alone -- but it's also not great. For example, over those two years, LSU allowed 38 such plays where as Shoop's 2016 Tennessee defense allowed 37 in 2016 alone. 


Diagnosing the issue here is complicated, because Shoop's two seasons as the Tennessee defensive coordinator painted different pictures. In 2016, his Volunteers ranked tied for best in the SEC in rushes of 30 yards or more allowed with 11; I wonder how much of that can be attributed to pass rush machine Derek Barnett, who was drafted 14th overall after that season, but there could be more to it than that. The point of that is we can't point at one thing about Shoop's Tennessee defenses that is to blame for this, because the small sample size is doing what small sample sizes do -- give unreasonable results. 


Now, if you choose to believe my theory about Barnett being the reason Shoop's first defense being better at preventing big passes, you have to like the potential for the 2018 Bulldogs with an even better defensive front than what the Vols had in '16. That, on top of the weird nature of small sample sizes such as the two years at Tennessee, tells me this won't be a problem with MSU this year, but it's a good nugget of knowledge to have in case it does come up. 


Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson



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