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USC DC Todd Orlando Advanced Stats Profile.

How have Todd Orlando's defenses graded out in Beta_Rank and S&P+?

Bryant Conger | January 26, 2020

USC dismissed longtime defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast after fielding back-to-back sub-50 seasons despite a roster filled with elite talent. Trojan Head Coach Clay Helton turned to Todd Orlando to revitalize a promising and young group of defensive players, he arrives with fifteen years of experience as a defensive coordinator.

What do the advanced statistics show about Orlando’s time as a defensive play caller? Below you'll find the advanced metrics from both Beta_Rank and S&P+ of Todd Orlando’s defenses at his last four schools.

Texas (Defensive Coordinator 2017-2019)

2019 Beta_Rank Defense National Ranking: 45th | Rushing Defense: 37th | Passing Defense: 49th S&P+ Defense National Ranking: 68th (additional S&P+ 2019 metrics not public)

2018 Beta_Rank Defense National Ranking: 26th | Rushing Defense: 16th | Passing Defense: 43rd S&P+ Defense National Ranking: 44th | Rushing Defense: 38th | Passing Defense: 45th

2017 Beta_Rank Defense National Ranking: 6th | Rushing Defense: 2nd | Passing Defense: 14th S&P+ Defense National Ranking: 14th | Rushing Defense: 6th | Passing Defense: 22nd

A substandard Texas defense in 2019 coupled with pressure on Longhorn Head Coach Tom Herman led to Todd Orlando’s dismissal in Austin. He did, however put together an elite defense in 2017 (#6 in Beta_Rank & #14 in S&P+) that improved significantly from the Charlie Strong era in 2016.

While different metrics fluctuated during his time at Texas, Orlando’s units were always led by the rushing defense — a pattern that has followed the units he has coordinated at three separate schools. The Longhorns fielded the 2nd best rushing defense in the country in 2017 and, while front seven productivity dropped to 37th in 2019, stopping the run was still one of the best things Texas did in a disappointing year.

Another constant theme to follow throughout Orlando’s career is strong defensive play efficiency (how many yards per play are surrendered by a defense controlling for opponent, starting field position, etc). If you use the Beta_Rank Team Evaluator tool you will find that two of Orlando’s three years at Texas the Longhorns featured a top-20 unit at play efficiency which is unsurprising. The Longhorns were also top-10 in drive efficiency (how many points a team scores when controlling for a myriad of offensive factors) in two of Orlando’s three years in Austin although drive efficiency hasn’t been as consistent of a trait throughout Orlando’s career as play efficiency.

Houston (Defensive Coordinator 2015-2016)

2016 Beta_Rank Defense National Ranking: 39th | Rushing Defense: 40th | Passing Defense: 43rd S&P+ Defense National Ranking: 27th | Rushing Defense: 6th | Passing Defense: 39th

2015 Beta_Rank Defense National Ranking: 38th | Rushing Defense 17th | Passing Defense: 64th S&P+ Defense National Ranking: 69th | Rushing Defense: 31st | Passing Defense: 72nd

Everyone thinks about Ed Oliver when evaluating Todd Orlando’s two years as defensive coordinator under Tom Herman in Houston. But it takes more than one of the most frightening defensive linemen in college football to make a defense. To this extent, Orlando carried his own weight. Were his units the dominating machines he fielded at Utah State (see below)? No. But Houston orchestrated back-to-back top-40 defenses in Beta_Rank that were solid at stopping the run and were top-45 in play efficiency in both 2015 and 2016.

Utah State (Defensive Coordinator 2013-2014)

2014 Beta_Rank Defense National Ranking: 23rd | Rushing Defense 21st | Passing Defense: 30th S&P+ Defense National Ranking: 16th | Rushing Defense: 6th| Passing Defense: 12th

2013 Beta_Rank Defense National Ranking: 4th| Rushing Defense 2nd | Passing Defense: 18th S&P+ Defense National Ranking: 18th | Rushing Defense: 2nd | Passing Defense: 28th

Utah State is where Orlando made his money. Coordinating top-40 defenses at a high-level Group of Five school like Houston is pretty good. Rocking TWO top-25 defenses at UTAH STATE is gangster. Once again, stopping the run was a big feature when Orlando was with the Aggies, whom ranked 2nd in both Beta_Rank and S&P+ at rushing defense in 2013 and 21st/6th respectively in 2014. Utah State also graded out as the #1 defense in the country in play efficiency in 2013 and 33rd in 2014. Nasty.

Florida International (Defensive Coordinator 2011-2012)

2012 Beta_Rank Defense National Ranking: 111th | Rushing Defense 117th | Passing Defense: 89th S&P+ Defense National Ranking: 93rd | Rushing Defense: 54th | Passing Defense: 56th

2011 S&P+ Defense National Ranking: 61st | Rushing Defense: 60th | Passing Defense: 38th

*Beta_Rank has data dating back to 2012

Orlando’s stop 2012 season at Florida International is the only year where his numbers veered out of control. After coordinating multiple top-50 defenses (including one top-25 defense) at UConn(!!!) in the late 2000's, Orlando was brought to southern Florida by Mario Cristobal. In his first year he improved the Panthers by a full 29 spots in S&P+ but 2012 was a mess. FIU is a hard, hard place to build a program. Just ask Crisotbal, who bounced back from a brutal time at FIU to take Oregon to the Rose Bowl.

Conclusion It’s difficult to predict how coaches and coordinators will preform at a given program. Still, Todd Orlando has a long and solid career calling plays. His dismissal at Texas for underperforming with elite players isn’t encouraging for USC fans and prevents this hire from being considered a home run. Still, Orlando has coached four top-25 defenses in the last 9 years. Additionally, his ability to limit the rushing ability of his opponents should fit well with Jay Tufele, Drake Jackson, and Marlon Tuipulotu returning on the defensive line.

If USC fans want to look for immediate changes they should keep an eye on the Trojan defense play efficiency in 2020. Most of the conference had the book on Clancy Pendergast in his last couple of years in Los Angeles and USC was susceptible to giving up big plays, particularly on 3rd down. A change was needed at the Coliseum. While Orlando isn’t a home run he may provide a steady hand that can get the Trojan defense consistently back in the top-25.

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