We have a special for you today, Jared Kalmus, UTSA beat writer and editor for Underdog Dynasty, has followed GOlding’s career trajectory. He was kind enough to offer some insight into what the Tide is getting in the hire.
1. What was Pete Golding's greatest impact upon the Roadrunners' defense?
Golding's biggest gift to UTSA's football program was introducing a physical and attacking philosophy. Before Golding's arrival, UTSA was notorious for having an incredibly conservative defense that rarely blitzed and saw the cornerbacks constantly sit ten yards off the line of scrimmage in zone coverage. UTSA looked like a totally different beast on defense from Golding's first day, as they quickly became a turnover-generating machine.
2. What scheme does Golding employ, and is he an aggressive playcaller?
UTSA played most snaps in a 4-2-5 alignment throughout Golding's tenure. However, I always had the impression that the long-term goal was to move to an odd-man front. When Golding came to UTSA he quickly found out that the personnel was not in place along the defensive line to run with an odd-man front, as the previous staff hadn't recruited many guys big enough and quick enough to play defensive end in such a scheme. If Golding would have stuck at UTSA for another two years then I think UTSA would have moved to a pure 3-4 or 3-3-5, as UTSA's recruiting strategy really pointed towards that being the long-term plan.
As for scheming, Golding is an extremely aggressive playcaller, arguably too aggressive. Never afraid to blitz his inebackers or secondary players, UTSA played a high number of their snaps in cover 0 or cover 1 this season. It was a risky move that paid off because the Roadrunners had a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball. Golding will never face a talent deficiency at Alabama, so I wouldn't be too concerned if my defense depended on guys like Marlon Humphrey or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix locking down receivers without any help in coverage.
Look no further than UTSA's heart-breaking last second loss to rival North Texas to see how Golding's aggression occasionally hurt the defense. On the last play of the game Golding blitzed both a linebacker and a safety, dropping a defensive tackle back into coverage. Just one broken tackle allowed the Mean Green receiver to slip into the end zone and win UNT the divisional championship.
3. Golding also coached defensive backs at UTSA, and that was his background when the Roadrunners hired him. What change did you see in the defensive backfield when he arrived?
The first and most sudden change we saw under Golding's was the immediate move from the short-but-speedy cornerbacks UTSA used in the past to sturdily-built corners that stood over 6'0". It was a huge change that seemed strange at the time but was very crucial, as Golding would go on to ask his defensive backs to play a ton of press coverage each season.
At the safety level, Golding seemed to prefer running a trio of safeties -- one with great instincts that ould play centerfield at free safety, a hard-hitting run-stopper at strong safety, and a speedy guy with the chops to cover slot receivers but with the toughness to bring down ball carriers in the tackle box as a safety/linebacker hybrid. Alabama fans might want to read my breakdown of UTSA's safety positions to get an idea of what they might be able to expect in Tuscaloosa if Golding is given much control over the defensive philosophy and scheme.
4. Saban puts extra emphasis on the ability to close in the living room as well. How is Golding’s recruiting?
There's no doubt that Golding wouldn't be making such a huge jump from UTSA to Alabama without Nick Saban catching word of Golding's ability on the recruiting trail. Golding was always one of UTSA's top recruiters during his time in San Antonio, and he routinely dug out some impressive hidden gems along the Gulf Shore. Golding has deep, deep roots in Mississippi, so expect him to make an impact for the Tide in that region.
5. What is his biggest weakness, or what has been UTSA's biggest defensive weakness in his two years leading the defense?
UTSA's biggest weakness in 2017 was definitely giving up too many big plays. Golding's aggressive scheme put his cornerbacks on an island routinely, and that translated to way too many touchdown passes of 30+ yards. If Golding is Alabama's defensive play-caller then he will put a lot of pressure on the Tide's corners.
6. Finally, Pete is...scruff-friendly: To date, we've located no clean-shaven, kempt photos. Do those exist?
Don't expect a man from Hammon, Louisiana to share a GQ magazine cover with Kliff Kingsbury. I'm pretty sure there's a YouTube video out there of Golding taking questions from the press in some camo Crocs. I think Pete is going to feel right at home in Alabama.
Ed. Note: I was not able to locate that amazing video, but I did find Golding talking defense you should enjoy. Again, special thank you to Jared for the time and candid assessment of Pete Golding.