By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (June 12, 2017) — Cody Moore didn’t hesitate to think about the answer or pause to decide how he wanted to word it.
He has spent the last two seasons watching the Stephenville defense surrender points in droves – 31.5 per game in 2015 followed by 40.8 in 2016 – because of it.
When asked if he could pinpoint the the most crucial improvement Yellow Jacket defenders could make this fall, he answered in one word.
Plain and simple.
Moore, the new defensive coordinator at Stephenville, has taken full ownership of his new position of leadership on third-year head coach Greg Winder’s Yellow Jacket staff with terms like “my staff,” when speaking of the assistant coaches on the defensive side joining him for a trip in the spring to TCU, where Moore played defensive tackle for the Horned Frogs.
Entering his ninth year of coaching and his third at Stephenville, Moore also says it’s “my responsibility” to clean up the missed tackles that have allowed opponents to amass such point totals the last two seasons.
“The number one thing we absolutely have to improve is our tackling. You can get in the best scheme in the world but it doesn’t matter if you can’t tackle,” said Moore. “On defense you will only ever be as good as you can tackle.”
Moore coached defensive tackles the last two seasons at Stephenville then was promoted to defensive coordinator in the weeks following the dismissal of Jeffrey Thompson, a Stephenville native and Yellow Jacket state champion as both a player in 1993 and 1994 and as an assistant coach in 2012. Thompson, who was also head girls powerlifting coach at Stephenville, was quick to land a job as a defensive assistant at Georgetown High School.
Moore realizes he’s taking over a defense determined to be more physical and better at tackling in an age when such contact is often discouraged in practice, especially during the season.
But surely after all those points per game allowed last fall, he can be pardoned for doing what is necessary to better the defense, and the team.
“The only way you get better at tackling is to tackle, and the only way you get more physical is to make make physicality a habit. There’s no way around it, that is what it takes,” said Moore. “We aren’t going to kill each other every day, but we are going to teach when to tackle, where to tackle, what tackles to use from different angles, and we’re going to make it part of our daily routine. There is a science to tackling and there is a physicality to tackling, and we have to improve in both of those.”
Tackling is a larger issue than schematics, though the new coordinator is excited about what’s in store on that front.
“We’re going to be in a true 4-2-5,” he said, referencing four down linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs with one of them usually a hybrid type defender who will often appear to average fans in the bleachers to be the third linebacker in a 4-3 (4-3-4) alignment.
But there are key differences, not just in the 4-2-5 and the 4-3, but also in the 4-2-5 at TCU, which Moore plans to enact, and the 4-2-5 that Aledo has run under Steve Wood, that Dublin has used under Bob Cervetto and even that head coach Joseph Gillespie and defensive coordinator Kevin Wilson implemented at Stephenville for a spell.,
“The way the 4-2-5 is set up, we don’t allow the offense to dictate what we run,” said Moore. “The offense doesn’t dictate what we do because having the front split the way we do and having the secondary split up, you can adjust however you like and bring whatever you like and it still be very sound.”
When Moore has a question about a specific scheme, he has some of the best 4-2-5 minds in the country to turn to. And, of course, he takes notes from Gary Patterson, one of the most successful head coaches in all of college football, when it comes to organizing and managing practices and more.
“When I’m there visiting, working camps or whatever I ask Coach Patterson about about practicing schedules, practice plans and the structure of practice and meetings, things of that nature, Moore said. “If I want to talk actual schemes, I go to Coach (Chad) Glasgow (defensive coordinator/safeties) or Coach (Zarnell) Fitch (defensive line). And a guy I played with, Jason Phillips, is their linebackers coach (as a third-year graduate assistant) now and he and I talk some, too.
The more a coach knows, the better prepared he is. And the better prepared he is, the better prepared his kids – in this case, his defense – will be come Friday nights in the fall.
But Moore says there is one certainty – all that is second to building relationships with the kids.
Among the new leadership responsibilities taken on by Moore is overseeing the summer conditioning program that Stephenville elected to bring back in-house and manage with its own coaches this summer. In recent summers, physical trainers from Performance Course oversaw summer conditioning, but now it’s Stephenville coaches working alongside Stephenville kids virtually year-round.
“The No. 1 thing we’re trying to do with that is be around the kids more and build those relationships so that anything we ask of our kids they will do it, no questions asked,” said Moore. “Our coaches here at Stephenville do a great job and we pride ourselves on hard work and relationships with the kids.
“This way we can keep tabs on what’s up with those guys during the summer. Beforehand we would be up here, but there was a definite disconnect from them during the summertime, and just based on the start today, I believe we have solved that problem,” said Moore, who noted there were at least 75 high school football players among the junior high and high school boys and girls who came to opening day of summer conditioning Monday. “We had a lot of them up here lifting on their own last week and then today I thought was a great way to start our official conditioning time. We were missing a kid here or there but we knew we would be, and they will be back with us soon.”
There’s also the added element of being in charge of summer conditioning for the recently promoted coordinator. His defensive guys saw him take charge during the spring, but now the team has six weeks of workouts over the next seven calendar weeks to function as a singular unit with Moore leading the way.
“It’s great to go ahead and get more involved in decision making and in running things for the kids,” he said. “One of the blessings in getting promoted early in the spring semester is that it gave us an opportunity to establish some things with our defensive guys. They already know how I expect them to work and they know their coaches will work equally hard to put them in the best position to succeed. They already understand the tempo I want to work at and where I’m coming from as a coach.”
Moore was all-state as a high school defensive lineman and state shot put champion in Comfort,Texas. Following his TCU career, he coached three years at S&S Consolidated near Sherman and three more as defensive line coach at Flower Mound before his wife’s hometown came calling in 2015.
Hillary Walker Moore was a member of the Stingerette Dance Team before graduating from Stephenville in 2004. The couple met at TCU and she now works at Texas Health Harris-Methodist Stephenville Hospital. They have two sons, Asher and Elijah, soon to be 5 and 3, respectively.
Moore has already proven he can coach his way to state in one sport – having worked with UIL Track & Field State meet discus qualifier Nadine Arredondo. She was very nearly a two-event state qualifier, finishing third in Region I-4A in the shot put.
Being in Stephenville has been an honor, Moore says, and being named defensive coordinator is a humbling opportunity he welcomes, along with all associated challenges.
“To be at Stephenville in general is a blessing,” said Moore. “Growing up anywhere in Texas in my generation, you know the history of this program and the incredible milestones they have achieved.
“Being at Stephenville is great, and being the DC at Stephenville is even better.”