Troy Douglas was hired to coach defensive backs all the way back in February of this year, taking over for Bobby Elliott; who just departed for Notre Dame. But in all that time, WRNL hasn't properly introduced him to Iowa State fans. Considering it's been seven months and Douglas has three games under his belt, it's probably time to rectify that situation.
Iowa State has seen a lot of turnover with their secondary coaches, but the Cyclones have had shockingly good luck with their hires. This isn't all that surprising considering Wally Burnham's pedigree and the fact that Paul Rhoads played DB in college, but it's still nice to have consistent excellence at the position despite the turnover. Replacing Chris Ash's experience after one year was no easy task, but Rhoads managed to find a coach with decades of experience, west coast recruiting ties and a background in Iowa with Bobby Elliott. After Elliott moved on, Rhoads tapped Burnham's seemingly endless rolodex of coaches he's worked with to hire Troy Douglas.
And honestly, Douglas might turn out to be the best secondary coach Paul Rhoads has had in his short tenure. Bold statement considering Ash and Elliott's experience, but take a look at Douglas' resume:
Troy Douglas has been coaching defensive backs for the past 23 years, making stops at Michigan State, Indiana, South Florida and North Carolina. He made his way to Iowa State after climbing out of the flaming wreckage of Butch Davis' staff at North Carolina, where he had made quite a name for himself. In 2009 and 2010 under Douglas' tutelage, the Tarheels were in the top-15 in the nation in interceptions. In 2007 while at Southern Florida, the Bulls were fifth in the nation in takeaways.
So yeah, Douglas likes his defenses to get turnovers. An aggressive, attacking style is what he coaches in his secondary, which is something Iowa State defensive backs have been missing for awhile. Chris Ash and Bobby Elliott preferred softer coverage, which was probably a good thing when they were here. Iowa State didn't have the talent or depth in the secondary when they were coaching at ISU to be aggressive. It's a risk-reward proposition; a defensive back can either cover the receiver or go for the ball. Going for the ball has its advantages; aggressive play can jar receivers, force turnovers and generally mess with a receiver's head. But sometimes going for the ball allows the receiver to make a play, and the defensive back is left behind as the receiver sprints upfield. Risk/Reward.
Douglas is teaching the DBs and safeties to go for the ball, which has been working out pretty well this year. It's still early, but Iowa State is currently ranked 24th in the country with four interceptions. The Cyclones had just 11 interceptions all last season and 13 in 2010. That number has the potential to skyrocket once Iowa State starts conference play in the pass-happy Big 12.
And Douglas can coach talent. Currently, seven of his former players are in the NFL (Eric Smith (New York Jets), Tracy Porter (New Orleans Saints), Mike Jenkins (Dallas Cowboys), Nate Allen (Philadelphia Eagles), Jerome Murphy (St. Louis Rams), Kendric Burney (St. Louis Rams) Da'Norris Searcy (Buffalo Bills)). Douglas has coached 16 total NFL prospects, so he knows how to get guys into the league. That's important, considering how few players Iowa State currently have in the NFL.
But one of the biggest roles Douglas will have is as Iowa State's recruiting coordinator. Douglas has extensive experience recruiting the south in general and Florida in particular, a state that Paul Rhoads' staff has been focusing on extensively. Douglas' recruiting experience will hopefully pay off with a higher caliber athlete, because as every Iowa State fan knows, the Cyclones has struggled to recruit Big 12-caliber athletes. Paul Rhoads has been able to win at Iowa State, but it isn't due to the overwhelming talent advantage ISU has.
Here's a look at Troy Douglas' last five recruiting classes according to rivals.com:
2011, North Carolina: Five 3-star athletes. Two DBs, two RBs, one LB. Three from NC, two from FL.
2010, North Carolina: Three 3-star athletes. Two DBs, one DE. Three from FL
2009, North Carolina: No listed commitments
2008, South Florida: One 3-star athlete. One DB from FL.
2007, South Florida: Two 2-star athletes. Two DTs from FL.
Nothing overwhelming. But not a bad resume at all. And Iowa State is probably not going to start pulling in four and five-star athletes from Florida just because Troy Douglas is coaching the secondary.
But Douglas has shown that he can create an effective secondary with the types of athletes that Iowa State recruits. Conversely, Douglas has shown that he can recruit the type of athlete that Iowa State can win with. Honestly, it just seems like a good fit.
In fact, the only knock against Troy Douglas is his tendency to keep moving. Like a hobo riding the rails, Douglas never stays in one place too long. In his career, his longest stint as a coach was at SMU from 1997-2000. But that's the nature of being a position coach. Hell, that's the nature of being ANY coach. It's just a temporary business, and coaches move all the time; whether it's due to moving on to a higher-profile job or being canned when the head coach gets fired.
So it's still early, and evaluating Troy Douglas' work as a coach and recruiter can't even begin to be fully evaluated yet. But so far, the match seems to be off to a good start.