Aug. 27, 1999
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) - Miami Hurricanes assistant coach Greg Schiano uses one word - actually, three words - to describe his defensive scheme.
"Attack, attack, attack," he says.
Schiano is the Hurricanes' new defensive coordinator, and he'll unveil his approach in Sunday's season opener against ninth-ranked Ohio State in the Kickoff Classic. The game is a stiff test for a defense that has often been the Hurricanes' downfall in recent seasons.
In 1997, Miami gave up 24 rushing touchdowns, a school record. In 1998, the Hurricanes allowed 20 passing touchdowns, another school record. Last year, they finished last in the Big East Conference in pass defense and gave up 111 points in the final two regular-season games against Syracuse (a 66-13 loss) and UCLA (a 49-45 victory).
When defensive coordinator Bill Miller departed for Michigan State, Hurricanes coach Butch Davis hired Schiano, 33. The new coordinator plans a more aggressive scheme, with tighter pass coverage and linemen intent on penetration.
Such an approach can be risky against a team like the Buckeyes, who return 1,235-yard rusher Michael Wiley and a trio of three-year starters in the offensive line. On the other hand, the Hurricanes may be able to force sophomore Austin Moherman into mistakes in his first start at quarterback.
"Everyone wants to talk about the scheme," Schiano says. "But the biggest thing we've talked about is consistency. We have to stop the run, win third down and come up with the deep ball when we have the opportunity."
Schiano was a defensive backfield coach for Joe Paterno at Penn State from 1990-96. He spent the past three seasons as a defensive assistant with the Chicago Bears under coach Dave Wannstedt, now assistant head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
That's a lot of experience for someone Schiano's age.
"Greg is probably as conscientious and smart as any young coach I've been around," Wannstedt says. "I don't know how much talent Miami has, but he'll get the most out of them."
Schiano is considered a coach on the rise, and a return to the NFL could be in his future. But for now, he's focused on bonding with his young Hurricanes players.
"Kids have to believe what they're doing is the right thing," he says. "You can have a one-man rush, and if they believe it's the right thing, they'll do it well.
"They need to see how you can help them get better. It's more prevalent in the NFL, but if a guy sees you as someone who can help them get better, they'll listen to every word you say. If they see you as someone who's full of it, they're not going to listen to you and they're not going to respect you."
Davis says the players are listening to Schiano.
"The kids know he's honest and fair, and his work ethic is unquestioned," Davis says. "He's creative, energetic, enthusiastic and passionate about the way he wants his players to play. He's a great addition to the staff."