January 25, 2013
QBs: Shoop's NFL influence a plus for Boilermakers
A year ago, the Houston Texans found themselves down to their third-string quarterback as they pushed toward the playoffs in the final weeks of the season.
But T.J. Yates, then a rookie fifth-round draft pick, stepped in and far exceeded expectations, not only winning his first two NFL starts, but also picking up a W in Houston's first game of the playoffs.
And he credits John Shoop, the former UNC offensive coordinator and QB coach who officially accepted the same positions at Purdue Friday, for helping him have that kind of early professional impact.
"One of the biggest factors in me getting drafted here to Houston and the thing that helped me transition into playing so quickly is the fact that the offense we ran at Carolina was an NFL offense," said Yates, the Texans' backup QB who had an 80.7 rating as a rookie in 2011. "It was almost the exact same thing as what we ran here. As far as terminology and reading the defenses and the volume of stuff that goes into each game plan is was pretty much the exact same. If you're looking for a coach that's going to help you get prepared for the next level, Coach Shoop is that."
Shoop, who was out of coaching in 2012 following the dismissal of Butch Davis from North Carolina the year before, has résumé rich in NFL experience. Prior to his five seasons at UNC, in which he helped the Tar Heels to four consecutive bowl games from 2008 to 2011, he spent 12 seasons with four different NFL franchises. He was the Chicago Bears' QB coach for two seasons in 1999 and 2000 before taking over as offensive coordinator the next three years.
And Shoop's had QB coach titles for the Carolina Panthers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders, as well.
"Purdue is getting a guy that will definitely put the time in and who will be an incredibly sound teacher to those quarterbacks, and I think he'll do a super job getting the most out of those young quarterbacks and bringing them along," said veteran NFL quarterback Steve Beuerlein, the Panthers' QB under Shoop's guidance in '97 and '98. "His NFL experience obviously will come into light as well. I think it's a great decision and a great asset that Purdue has a guy of his quality because he's going to do a great job."
At North Carolina, and with the Bears, Shoop's offenses were based around West Coast values, which stress high-percentage short to intermediate passes used to set up a play-action running game. But Yates says Shoop showed an ability to be flexible as well. And that might be a good thing for the Boilermakers.
At Coach Darrell Hazell's introductory press conference at Purdue in December, he said he'd base his offensive scheme on the Boilermakers' personnel. The Tar Heels, Yates pointed out, were forced to make some adjustments his junior season in 2010, focusing on the running game due to inexperience on the offensive line and at receiver.
"The thing about it was it wasn't a conventional running game," said Yates via phone on Friday afternoon. "A good portion of our running game came from wide receiver end-arounds and just creative ways that Coach Shoop just thought up, because at that point we were kind of one-dimensional, because of our personnel. But Coach Shoop, with how creative he is, found a way for our offense to flourish in a different way when one thing wasn't working.
"I think that's another one of his great qualities is that, when we needed something else, something new, he was one of the most creative guys, whether it was formations, shifts, motions, looks, schemes, anything we could do to muster something up when we needed a play or a spark in the offense."
In his final two seasons at UNC, Shoops' offenses ranked 51st in the country in 2010, averaging 389.7 yards per game, and 53rd a year later, with an average of 393.2 per game The Tar Heels finished with a 8-5 record in '10, including a win over Tennessee in the Music City Bowl, and were 7-6 a year later, with a loss to Missouri in the Independence Bowl.
Yates, a four-year starter at UNC who owns the school record for career passing yards, says he left Chapel Hill a far better player than when he arrived. Perhaps then that can be a positive for a Boilermaker squad that goes into 2013 with only one upperclassman quarterback and three who are in only their first or second seasons.
"I was extremely raw," said Yates, who had played only a season of high school football north of Atlanta before going to UNC and redshirting as a rookie. "I had pretty much no quarterback fundamentals whatsoever. He'll definitely shape you into an NFL quarterback. He's huge on footwork, and in this offense, you've got to get it out quick, have a quick release. Footwork and quick release is one thing that I worked on my entire college career and I think I've benefited from it a ton. He hammers it away, he's all about fundamentals all the time."
Beuerlein says Shoop certainly will put in the work to help his players improve and to make his offense a success.
"I played in the NFL for a long time and played at Notre Dame before that, so I've been around a lot of coaches and you see all different shapes and sizes and different levels of commitment," said Beuerlein, who now works as an NFL analyst for CBS Sports. "There's never been a coach I've been around that had a higher level of commitment than John Shoop. He was truly as hard of a worker as I've ever been around."
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