A few weeks ago I analyzed our 2014 defensive statistics to find a few categories that if improved I feel would help our defense most. This led me to wonder what Auburn and Houston's defensive stats improved most from the year prior Gibbs' arrival and his first season.
Let's start with his stint at Auburn. To give you perspective, this Auburn team was coach by none other than Tommy Tuberville. They were also coming off of a great 2004 season that saw them go undefeated and win the SEC Championship but miss out on a spot in the National Championship game. Gene Chizik was the DC of that team, but left for The University of Texas shortly after the season. Gibbs was subsequently hired as DC to replace Chizik. I would have a hard time imagining there would be a better position for a coach to walk into. The team and the defense were both good. He was not forced to fix or rebuild like he was asked to do in Houston and is being asked to do at Tech. He needed only to maintain the same level. That isn't to say maintaining a top-ranked defense is easy. Plenty of coaches have run programs/offenses/defenses into the ground. I just think most coaches would rather work with a team that has the pieces in place and has had recent success as opposed to having to rebuild. Here is a comparison of defensive stats from the '04 (Chizik's last season) and '05 (Gibbs' first season).
Looking at the stats, he was able to maintain the level of the Auburn defense. The rankings below bear that out as well.
From a statistical standpoint wild swings are much more fascinating to analyze but this tells me he can run a top-ranked defense if I didn't know that before. There were a few stumbles late in the season. They gave up more than 440 yards in three of their last four games. Wisconsin put up some big yards on the Auburn defense (548) in their bowl game. They still held their offense to 24 points which was 10 points less than their season average. There was also a considerable drop in turnovers, but they only gave up one more touchdown to opponents over the course of the season so it isn't that concerning to me. Overall, the season as a whole was a success for his defense.
Gibbs left Auburn after the season headed to the NFL where he bounced around to a few teams before ending up at the University of Houston in 2013. The Cougar defense was pretty bad prior to his arrival. He turned them around pretty darn quick. Here is a comparison of defensive stats from the '12 (pre-Gibbs) and '13 (Gibbs' first season).
And the rankings.
This is the turnaround all Red Raider fans hope Gibbs brings to Lubbock this season. There were huge improvements in just about every category. Similar to the Auburn stats, I am not sure you can glean too much from these stats. You really can't pinpoint one thing that led to a turnaround when everything improved so dramatically. However there were a couple of stats that I was most impressed by. #1) Turnovers are the most impressive statistical improvement. 31 turnovers is a big number. Houston ranked #15 in the nation in turnovers that season. Creating turnovers was the one thing their defense did well. For comparison's sake, Tech's defense created only 15 turnovers last season. In Gibbs' first season the Houston defense created 43 turnovers which ranked #1 in the nation in 2013. #2) The other stat that sticks out to me is Total Touchdowns. They took almost two touchdowns per game away from their opponents. That would have been good for a couple of more wins for the Red Raiders last season. I sincerely hope next season we get half of the improvements that Houston saw in Gibbs' first season.