Why Hiring Jon Hoke and Travelle Wharton Were the Best #SEC Staff Upgrades in 2015


Two words. NFL experience.

A&M hired legendary DC John Chavis away from LSU. Now, A&M, with its potentially rejuvenated D, is picked by @FoxSports’ Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) to win an SEC Championship. LINK Auburn made a great defensive coordinator hire in Will Muschamp. Now, because of Muschamp, almost everyone is picking Auburn to win an SEC Championship.  LINK

You don’t see it coming. Steve Spurrier made the best of all of the 2015 SEC coaching staff changes.

The Gamecocks are flying under the radar. They are stealthy. They are winding their way toward the target at low level, hiding in the weeds. The Gamecocks have @CoachJonHoke, and @TravelleWharton on the sticks. The 2015 Gamecocks are going to pop up on their targets and toss unexpected bombs on opponents all year long.

Want to know why Spurrier bet Sumlin the 2015 Gamecocks defense will have a  greater improvement than the Aggies?


Hoke coached the past 13 seasons as an NFL defensive backs coach, first with the Houston Texans (2002-08), then with the Chicago Bears (2009-14), under or with defensive gurus like Dom Capers, Lovie Smith, and Rod Marinelli. He played DB under legendary Bears coach Buddy Ryan. If a fraction of that NFL coaching knowledge rubbed off on Hoke, the Gamecocks will be in great shape. Apparently it has. Ask Chicago’s physically dominant cornerbacks Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman, who were in four Pro Bowls. Hoke.

Zone blitz schemes is not all Hoke learned in the NFL. It will take more than the Tampa 2 to turn the 2015 Gamecocks into a sneaky great defense.

Hoke teaches defensive fundamentals.

He has already implemented common sense NFL drills designed to coach the Gamecocks defenders up. See this DB Drills with Jon Hoke, and read these stories: here. It’s not just defensive backs that benefit. When have you seen Gamecocks defensive ends doing this hoop drill before 2015?


A simple defensive end drill. No big deal. The Carolina Panthers do the same thing. LINK

How much of a factor was this drill into suddenly turning Darius English (@ENGLISHroyalty5) into an All American?

The Gamecocks have an abundance of young talent. Now they have fundamentals, and Hoke is coaching them up.

Under the radar.

Wharton, the retired Carolina Panthers offensive lineman, was hired as a 2015 Quality Control Coordinator for Offense. Like Hoke, Wharton is teaching NFL tricks to @ShawnElliottUSC and the other the Gamecocks offensive coaches, gliding silently through the valley. He assists with video analysis, scouting, and daily personnel management. Listen to Elliott (at the 0:55 mark) talk about the new NFL intelligence.

I’ve really learned the techniques he used throughout his career in the NFL. I love to learn new things. New tricks. New schemes. New techniques. Drills. Whatever it might be. And anytime I can find that, it’s really good. So I’m pleased he’s here with us.


The Gamecocks are about to bomb 15 targets. They don’t see it coming.


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