December 12, 2017 5:15:35 AM
STARKVILLE -- New Mississippi State head football coach Joe Moorhead has begun his defensive staff with a proven name.
Sources have confirmed reports that MSU will hire Bob Shoop to be its next defensive coordinator. Shoop was most recently the defensive coordinator at Tennessee for two seasons; the news comes the day after Tennessee introduced Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as its head coach.
Like Moorhead, Shoop has a background in small college football. He played at Yale in the 1980's and coached there in addition to Villanova, Northeastern, Columbia and William & Mary in different roles before breaking into the Southeastern Conference.
Shoop has five seasons of SEC experience, three at Vanderbilt and the last two at Tennessee.
Shoop's three-year stint at Vanderbilt and two years at Penn State -- all of them under head coach James Franklin -- produced some of the nation's best defense. All five of those defenses ranked in the top 25 in yards per play allowed and three of the five ranked in the top 14; the best was the 2014 Penn State defense that ranked third.
For context, the 2017 MSU defense ranked 39th in the nation in allowing 5.24 yards per play; none of Shoop's five defenses under Franklin allowed that much. His Vanderbilt defenses allowed 4.82, 4.75 and 5.07 before his Penn State defenses allowed 5.84 and 5.94.
Shoop's Tennessee defenses were a drastic regression from the mean, ranking 78th and 88th in yards per play allowed last season and this season, allowing 5.84 and 5.94. Those two Volunteer defenses ranked ninth and 10th in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 28.8 and 29.1 points per game, respectively.
UPDATE, 2:44 p.m.: The Dispatch has now confirmed through a source that Moorhead has hired Mark Hudspeth to be his tight ends coach. A source told The Dispatch he has already touched base in Starkville and is off to recruit Louisiana in the coming days for MSU.
Hudspeth spent the last seven season as the head coach at UL Lafayette, coaching the Ragin' Cajuns to a 21-19 conference record and five bowl appearances. It is a return to MSU for Hudspeth: after seven seasons as the head coach at North Alabama, Hudspeth spent two years as MSU's wide receivers coach and pass game coordinator before accepting the UL Lafayette job.
Hudspeth was born in nearby Louisville and played at Delta State.
UPDATE, 4:20 p.m.: A source has now told The Dispatch that Duke offensive line coach Marcus Johnson is expected to accept the same job at MSU.
Johnson is a Mississippi native that played for Ole Miss before a five-year NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His entire coaching career to date has been at Duke, starting as an assistant strength coach and working his way to offensive line coach for the last two seasons.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson
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