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Published: Sunday, 4/17/2005

Rose could be thorn UT's defense needs

The University of Toledo football team won the 2004 Mid-American Conference championship despite the Rockets' defense putting too much pressure on the offense.

Thanks to Toledo's high-powered offense, coach Tom Amstutz required that his defense not embarrass itself.

Amstutz's approach with his defense set a tone.

In his first four seasons, Amstutz built a great offense, arguably the best offense, year-in and year-out, in school history.

At the same time, UT's defense suffered. The Rockets had one of the league's most explosive offenses and one of its worst defenses.

You could say the Rockets won two MAC titles in Amstutz's first four seasons in spite of their defense.

UT's defensive coaching staff needed new blood, someone with a different approach and a different perspective.

New defensive coordinator Tim Rose is a much-needed change-of-pace. He's a highly enthusiastic coach with a rah-rah personality.

Rose is a football lifer - at 63 he's the oldest coach on UT's staff. He's been a head coach who's won a MAC title at Miami and a defensive coordinator for 18 years at eight different Division I programs. He's seen it all.

His message to the Rockets is upbeat and positive. He believes in his players.

Rose's message: Play hard, play the game right, trust in the system, and let your ability take care of the rest.

Rose is committed to upgrading UT's defense. Based on his track record, the Rockets will become more of a 3-4 defense and less of a 4-4 defense.

Just as on offense, when Amstutz brought in former coordinator Rob Spence to transform the Rockets into one of the top offenses in the country, Amstutz is again showing his willingness to remove his ego from the equation for the good of the program.

The 4-4 is Amstutz's baby. He nurtured it and perfected it when he was the defensive coordinator under Gary Pinkel, and he retained it when he hired Lou West upon replacing Pinkel as head coach.

With West's departure to become head coach at Indiana State, Amstutz targeted Rose, a coaching veteran who specializes in the 3-4.

Don't underestimate UT's sudden shift in defensive philosophy. It would be comparable to the Rockets adding the wishbone to their spread offense.

"There are a lot of three-man fronts and not as many four-man fronts as they've seen in the past," Rose said prior to yesterday's Blue and Gold Spring Game at the Glass Bowl.

The Rockets have key players in place for the 3-4 alignment: linebackers Anthony Jordan and David Thomas, rover Keon Jackson and cornerback Antonio Malone. Rose has four players with all-league potential. That's a good start.

To make the 3-4 work effectively, the defensive ends must be able to play the run as well as the pass.

Rose mentioned two potential candidates, Mike Alston and Michael Chamberlain, who were recruited to play linebacker and the whip position, respectively, and are both new to defensive end.

"They'll have to be physical enough to play the run and athletic enough to drop into coverage," Rose said. "We would prefer to be a pressure-type defense. Know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em."



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