I was thrilled when Coach Mike Price ended the 3-3-5 experiment in El Paso. I was even more excited when I started doing research on Andre Patterson, UTEP's newest defensive coordinator. Admittedly, I wasn't familiar with Coach Patterson when UTEP announced he was hired for the job. Coach Patterson has been around the block. He's coached with 5 different NFL franchises and knows the 4-3 inside out. Check this out from his UTEP bio.
His extended stint in the NFL included stops at New England (1997), Minnesota (1998-99), Dallas (2000-02), Cleveland (2003-04) and Denver (2005-06). He coached the defensive line at all five places, with Chris Doleman, Ebenezer Ekuban, La'Roi Glover, John Randle and Gerard Warren among his protégés.
Patterson spent nine seasons (1988-96) in the college coaching ranks. He was an assistant at Weber State (1988), Western Washington (as defensive coordinator in 1989), Cornell (1990-91) and Washington State (1992-93) prior to landing the head job at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (1994-96). Patterson directed Cal Poly to a 7-4 record and league title in 1994 en route to being named the American West Conference Coach of the Year.
I caught up with Coach Patterson after the Miners first spring scrimmage last Friday.
MR: How are you and your family enjoying El Paso so far?
AP: "I'm lovin' it. It's great here. We've been welcomed here with open arms and I really love the weather, especially the humidity."
MR: "How has the transition been for the team to the new 4-3 scheme?"
AP: "The biggest thing we want to teach is for the team to 1) be fundamentally sound, 2) be technicians, and 3) play with speed and emotion. If we do that, it gives us an opportunity to make plays every series. We have to keep players in front of us, and use our speed."
MR: Any thoughts on the scrimmage?
AP: "Number one, we were competitive. In the red zone we did not want to give up touchdowns. We were able to consistently keep the offense behind the down and that will be the key to our success."
MR: I read that the first thing you did after being hired at UTEP was start recruiting defensive lineman Quentin Jones. What can be bring to this defense?
AP: Definitely athleticism. He's a guy that weighed 305 and ran a 4.9 forty yard dash and had a 31" vertical leap. He's athletic and he can be explosive for us.