Thursday, November 23, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Big East coaches offer glimpse into the mind of new Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano

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TAMPA — Don't expect Syracuse offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to shed any tears over Greg Schiano's defection from the Big East to the Bucs.

"He was a pain," Hackett said of Schiano's constant blitzing while coaching Rutgers. "I'm glad he's gone and I don't have to deal with that anymore."

Hackett was kidding. We think.

In any case, his point gives Bucs fans a flavor of Schiano's tendencies and the kinds of defensive tactics he employs, tactics they might see in Tampa Bay.

Schiano's philosophies, say those who know his teams best, include an aggressive defensive approach complete with blitzes and press coverage against receivers. On offense, Schiano believes in pounding the ball with a power running game to set up deep passes, something he emphasized during his first news conference last week.

Schiano still must hire coordinators on offense and defense, and the coordinators' philosophies will have the greatest influence on what elements are used. But Schiano was deeply involved in game planning on both sides of the ball at Rutgers, and that's expected to continue with the Bucs.

To that end, the coaches Schiano faced in the Big East know best what to expect from him.

Don Brown, defensive coordinator at Connecticut, previewed what Schiano's offense might look like.

"He does a great job with formations," Brown said. "They used so many formations, more than anybody in the Big East. He's going to move those guys around and work hard to confuse you. He still believes in the run game. He looks for balance with the run and pass. He wants to play-action, move the quarterback around, and he's got the complementary five-step (quarterback) drop to go down the field."

That's almost exactly the way Schiano indicated he'll approach offense with the Bucs.

Tampa Bay will be "a physical offensive football team that takes shots down the field," Schiano said. "It's very hard to go on 13-, 14-play drives. If we miss our shot, we'll line up, play defense and go after them again. (Play) physical, run the football physically and take shots down the field. That formula works."

The heavy use of offensive formations will be especially prevalent with the Bucs if Rutgers offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti joins Schiano, Big East coaches said. Those multiple formations allowed the Scarlet Knights to make the best use of Mohamed Sanu, who as a junior in 2011 set a Big East record with 115 catches.

"(Schiano) maximized that young man's ability by moving him to where he gets great looks and gets the most touches possible," Brown said.

Defensively, Rutgers became known for relentless pressure, a basic principle of Schiano's. Hackett — who once worked for the Bucs along with his father, former quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett — said fans will notice significant differences between Schiano's defenses and those of Monte Kiffin and Raheem Morris, two recent Bucs defensive coordinators.

The Bucs rarely blitzed under Kiffin, who was defensive coordinator for 13 seasons until 2008. Under Morris, whom Schiano replaced as coach, Tampa Bay blitzed sporadically.

"(Rutgers blitzes) safeties, cornerbacks, linebackers, you name it," Hackett said. "(Schiano) has been around the league enough to know that if you pressure the quarterback, you have a chance to win. And I bet he'll ramp it up even more with more time to work with players in the NFL."

In 2011, the Scarlet Knights were first in the Big East and 14th in Division I-A in total defense (average 311.5 yards allowed per game); first in the Big East and eighth in I-A in scoring defense (18.3 points per game); first in the Big East and ninth in I-A in passing defense (172.3 yards per game), and third in the Big East and tied for eighth in I-A in tackles for loss (7.6 per game).

Though Brown typically focuses on Rutgers' offense, he said he makes it a point to watch film of its defenses because he and Schiano believe in many of the same principles.

"He's a heavy pressure guy," Brown said. "He contests every throw. He's an attacking defensive guy, and he wants to get in your face."

"They weren't the biggest team. But they were aggressive on defense, and they run to the ball. The corners play aggressive, put their hands on you.

"It's attack, attack, attack."

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