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Defensive Analyst Brian VanGorder Brings A Fresh Perspective



One year ago, Brian VanGorder was running the defensive side of a spring camp in South Bend, Indiana. Now he’s walking around observing practices in Stillwater.

Four games into the 2016 season, after the Fighting Irish’s worst upset loss in 20 years (to Duke), his team was 1-3 and VanGorder (then defensive coordinator) was shown the door.

His departure, as it turns out, did little to help Notre Dame.

While he was running the defense, Notre Dame allowed 33.5 points per game and held a scoring margin of +3.75 in its first four games. Without VanGorder, the Irish went 3-6, giving up 25 points a game but their scoring margin dipped to +2.75. Their only wins came against Syracuse, Army and N.C. State.

That’s the life of head coaches and lead assistants. Win or find a new job.

VanGorder landed on his feet and spent the rest of the season as a hired consultant for Kirby Smart at Georgia. After the season was finished, VanGorder apparently showed his interest in Oklahoma State who was transitioning into a multi-front defense.

Mike Gundy has been pleased with VanGorder’s contributions so far this spring.

“He’s been really good for our defensive guys,” Gundy said following a practice this week. “He’s got a wealth of experience in 3-down and essentially that’s why we brought him in here.”

“I’ll be quite honest with you, I didn’t necessarily think we were going to bring a guy in that had a track record like him. But he wanted to be in our program and we’re thrilled to have him. They tell me that’s he bringing a lot to the room in different things, in the 3-down defense.”

That track record includes over 35 years coaching defense at all levels of college football and stints with the Atlanta Falcons (as defensive coordinator) and the New York Jets.

So, what is an analyst, anyway?

It’s an extra set of eyes that can scout future opponents, watch practice and film and basically add to the coaching staff’s think-tank without out directly coaching the players. The NCAA has a limitation on how many “coaches” a university can keep on staff.

Oklahoma State has been using these analysts for several years now. They currently have two defense analysts in VanGorder and former DC Bill Clay. This offseason, the Cowboys added A.J. Ricker to fill the offensive analyst spot vacated by eventual OL coach Josh Henson.

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