Spencer and DeForest In Charge Of Defense

Okay, Tim Beckman is gone. He's been out recruiting for the Toledo Rockets for a couple of weeks and the Cowboys still have a defensive game plan to devise and execute against an Oregon team that averages 478 yards of total offense, a whopping 278 yards rushing, and 42 points a game, and scored 65 in their last game beating state rival Oregon State 65-38 in the Civil War. What does Mike Gundy do?

Gundy says he is not going to even skim through resumes of defensive coordinators until after the bowl game. This show goes to the incumbents, associate head coach and special teams coordinator Jeo DeForest, defensive line coach Glenn Spencer, and cornerbacks coach Jason Jones. So far in practice it seems the move has been a positive.

"The kids have a lot of bounce right now and they knew when Joe and I took things over that we weren't going to change a whole lot," explained Spencer.

"We are going to do what we did best and pick out the things throughout the year, pick out based on what Oregon has done the things that worked best for us really well and concentrate on them. We'll have a new wrinkle now and then, but the base philosophy. the base attack scheme will stay the same," Spencer added.

What doesn't stay the same with the shortfall of defensive staffers, including the loss of a defensive graduate assistant, is the coaching assignments. Spencer inherits the linebackers.

"I've actually coached the linebackers more over the 18 years that I've done it," said Spencer. "When I coordinated (West Georgia) I did it from the linebacker spot (coaching). You are involved in the front end and the back end and day to day have a better concept of what is going on. It is fun and to get around those guys and try to motivate a new set of kids while I still have my thumb on the guys up front too."

DeForest may be selling a situation for the future but the chemistry seems to be really good, and he is sold on Spencer.

"First of all, he is a great person," said DeForest. "More than anything else he is a great person to be around in that room. He is a good recruiter and an excellent teacher and he is an asset to this program. I've been around now eight or nine years and he is one of the best people we have had on our staff."

Spencer heads up the front seven and DeForest is in charge of the back end of the defense. With Spencer working with the linebackers, grad assistant Vinson Reynolds and former Cowboy Greg Richmond are working with the defensive line.
,br> "Greg has been great," said Spencer of the former Cowboy and Philadelphia Eagles defensive end. "All throughout the year the thing is with Greg as a strength coach in the offseason the strength coaches can work with our guys and we can't by NCAA rules. So they have a feel for Greg's coaching style.

"I bounce things off Greg throughout the year because he has done it a lot more recently than me and he was an effective pass rusher. They already had respect for him because of what he has done with them in the weight room."

Oregon is tough with the two-back attack headed by Jeremiah Johnson and a heady quarterback in Jeremiah Massoli. It is run first with the Ducks.

"When you go into any game plan the first thing you look at is how to stop the run," added Spencer. "It doesn't matter if they run it 20 times a game or 40 or 50 times a game. You don't have to look at film long to see what they've done to some pretty good teams running the football."

"They are a spread offense with big, thick strong running backs and the quarterback is a thick player," added DeForest. "It's amazing that they have big, tall physical receivers. They had players in position to make tackles in the Pac-10 and their backs just run over them. I was surprised at how physical they are."

The Cowboys should fare better stopping a run-oriented offense versus one that throws the ball all over the field. The trio of DeForest, Spencer and Jason Jones are ready to go to work.

"He's going to go up in the box and we're going to call this thing by committee," explained DeForest of how it will go the night of Dec. 30.

Finally, is this a trial where Gundy can get an indication of whether to stay in house or go out of house for the new defensive coordinator? Is a step to the new, a step back? Spencer isn't commenting. He is staying with the task at hand and nothing else.

"In reality, I can understand Mike. He's trying to score points and he trusts Joe and I to put a game plan together," said Spencer. "Let's do that and we'll cross the other bridge when we come to it."

DeForest added, "There is no doubt we have a different personality than Coach Beckman, and hopefully the preparation for this game the personality of our defense will take on the personality of Coach Spencer, Coach (Jason) Jones, and myself."

Gundy won't call it a trial but I will in the court of public opinion in the minds of Cowboy fans. Win and hold Oregon under 28 and it looks good for DeForest and Spencer. If not, anything could happen. Anything may happen anyway.

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