Texas Tech Hires Todd Orlando as Linebackers and Assistant Head Coach

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Yesterday, Texas Tech hired Todd Orlando as the linebackers and assistant head coach. Head coach Matt Wells had this to say about Orlando:

“We are thrilled to bring a coach with Todd’s credentials into our program,” Wells said. “He is one of the top defensive minds in football, and I know he will help us continue to build a strong culture within our program. We’re looking forward to welcoming Todd, his wife Amy and their family to Lubbock.”

Orlando is excited to join the Red Raiders:

“My family and I are excited to rejoin Coach Wells,” Orlando said. “We’ve won a bunch of games together in the past, and we plan to do the same here at Texas Tech. I’m looking forward to meeting the staff and players and then finishing up on the recruiting trail for the 2020 class.”

Orlando was recently fired from the University of Texas as their defensive coordinator, and prior to that, Orlando was the defensive coordinator at Houston and was at Utah State with Wells in 2013-2014, which Utah State was 9-5 and 10-4 in those two years. Before that, Orlando was at FIU, Connecticut, Penn and some high school gigs out of graduating from Wisconsin.

There were some additional moves as well because last year, current defensive coordinator Keith Patterson was the linebackers coach, so now Patterson is coaching defensive backs. Texas Tech did announce that Kerry Cooks would not be returning as the safeties coach.

FootballScoop reported that defensive assistant coach Craig Naivar would join Texas Tech, but they updated the post linked here by stating that this announcement was premature and Naivar’s hire has not happened.

The announcement that Patterson is coaching defensive backs would seemingly mean that current cornerbacks coach Juice Brown will not return to Texas Tech.

This past year, Texas Tech was 127th in yards per passing attempt, 106th in passer rating, and 83rd in defensive SP+.

Texas had their own issues defensively, the Longhorns were 77th in defensive SP+, 93rd in yards per passing attempt, and 90th in passer rating, so that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for Orlando.

Here are some of my off-the-cuff thoughts:

  • Orlando and Patterson are both blitz-happy coordinators and it seems that there are a lot of chefs in the kitchen at this point, but they maybe because they all like to cook the same thing this will work out.
  • I sort of think that this is a one-year situation for Orlando, wanting to go back to someone that he absolutely trusts in Wells and Wells sort of making room on his staff for Orlando. Just the idea of having to relatively successful defensive coordinators in one room seems like a bonus and I’d guess that Wells was pretty definitive that Patterson would be the one calling plays and maybe Orlando sits in the booth to give his feedback. I can’t imagine that Patterson didn’t bless the hire.
  • If we’re talking specifics, Orland ran a 3-4, just like Patteson runs and with Orlando in charge of linebackers, this AthlonSports post indicates that Orlando sees linebackers like quarterbacks and he wants that rush linebacker to be able to blitz or drop into coverage and the blitz coming from different spots, mainly the 5th defensive back:

    It’s pretty common for coordinators to double up as position coaches for the most important position on their unit. Orlando is a linebackers coach in a defense that asks the linebackers to be the primary playmakers on the team. The “mac” or middle linebacker helps call the defense and serves as the “first responder” for the defense against the run, looking to plug gaps and spill blocks to the outside linebackers (or nickel and dime defenders as the case may be) and his partner the “rover” linebacker. The rover is the tip of the spear for the Orlando defensive scheme, and he uses that position as a solution to the main problem for the 3-4 defense in the modern era: How to create a multi-pronged pass rush from a nickel package.

    With one of the pass-rushing outside linebackers replaced by a nickel DB, the defense is left with only a single edge rusher on the field (the B-backer in Orlando’s defense). So in addition to having a blitz package, Orlando teaches his rover how to disguise insert blitzes through the A and B gaps. His defense consequently has two main types of base pass rush, one in which the B-backer works off the edge like in a normal 3-4 defense and another in which the B-backer drops into coverage while the rover blitzes suddenly through the interior. Orlando’s rover is typically one of the team leaders in sacks as a result of this strategy.

  • I don’t know who on the roster should be Orlando’s rover, which is the same thing as Patterson’s Spur, and I also have questions about who should be the Raider, but that’s for another day.
  • I’d also point to you this article from MatchQuarters if you want to learn a bit more about Orlando and how he likes to run defenses. Again, I think the similarities between Orland and Patterson are more than any of the differences.
  • With Kerry Cooks dismissal, I think a lot of fans from Oklahoma and Texas said when he was hired, “well . . . good luck with that” and Cooks was sort of billed as a terrific recruiter, but I don’t know if that really ever transpired.
  • Juice Brown, if he’s no longer on the staff, was a guy that followed Wells from Utah State and was one of “his guys”. If Wells is willing to let him go after a year of less than stellar performance, I think that says a little something about Wells. If Texas Tech isn’t getting better then there’s a problem.
  • The question about whether or not this is an upgrade, I think the answer is obviously yes. I’d trade Orlando for Cooks and Brown all day long, and depending on who is hired to coach cornerbacks (I know that Patterson is coaching defensive backs right now, but I have a suspicion that Wells is looking to find a cornerbacks coach too). Wells is trying to make the staff better and I’d rather have a head coach that’s pushing forward than accepting status quo. It probably also helps that UT is paying the difference in Orlando’s salary, which means that he’s owed $1.7 this year and whatever Texas Tech doesn’t pay him, the Longhorns will make up the difference. This also makes me think that this is a one-year deal because normally, Texas Tech would likely be out of Orlando’s price range. He’s a good defensive coordinator.

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