Ted Roof glad to be back coaching at Alma Mater

Photo by Austin Foote

In the Tech record books, the name Ted Roof is a name that will likely appear over and over.

Roof was hired by Paul Johnson to be defensive coordinator, a title he also held 13 years ago at Tech.

Roof played middle linebacker at Tech from 1982-1985 and was senior captain for the vaunted 1985 Tech defense, which garnered the name of the “Black Watch.”

The “Black Watch” defense was given its nickname from defensive coordinator Bob Lindsey, who he rewarded his elite players with a black stripe painted down the middle of their gold helmets.

Only the hardest hitters got the stripe, including Roof, who was the heart and soul of the defense, and defensive end Pat Swilling, who was the most talented player on the team.

One day Roof hopes to install a “Black Watch Part Two” defense at Tech.

“Yeah we do want to. That was a senior dominated group, and you want to get to a deal where you become dominated by upperclassmen. We’re not there yet, but that’s certainly what we’re building for, and you’ve got to continue to recruit, player development and things of that nature,” said Roof.

According to many members of the “Black Watch,” Roof was the “hardest hitter” on the team.

“It was a lot of fun. We had a good football team. I was fortunate to play with a lot of really good players,” said Roof.

Roof was an All-American his senior year. Tech went 9-2-1 and won the Hall of Fame bowl against Michigan State.

The defense only allowed 11 points per game and held opponents to single digits in five of their 12 games.

Roof was inducted into the Tech Hall of Fame in 1998, finishing his career with 417 tackles.

After leaving Tech, Roof moved from job to job, and in 1998 he was hired by George O’Leary to be linebackers coach. The following year Roof was named defensive coordinator and held that position for three years.

When O’Leary left Tech to go to Notre Dame, Roof accepted the job of defensive coordinator at Duke University where his impact was immediately felt in the program.

Duke was in a midst of a major down period where administrators of the school stopped caring about the football program.

At Duke, Roof inherited a defense that was 116th out of 117th in scoring defense and gave up 44.6 points per game. That number was lowered to 29.4 in Roof’s first year, and he helped break their 23 game losing streak.

The following season Roof became interim head coach at Duke after Carl Franks was fired, and his first win as a head coach was ironically against Tech, where  he beat his Alma Mater 41-17.

Roof remained as head coach until 2007 when he was let go but left a lasting imprint on the program and helped pave the way for future success due to his fighting for upgrades in football facilities, the recruiting budget, and assistant coach salary spending.

After Duke, Roof was defensive coordinator at University of Minnesota, Auburn, University of Central Florida and Pennsylvania State University. He was at Auburn in 2010 where he won a national championship.

Roof left Penn State in spring of 2013, and in his first year at Tech, its defense improved from 65th in scoring to 29th and also had the 11th ranked rushing defense. That was a veteran defense and featured three players who were drafted into the NFL.

This past season has been more of a challenge for Roof. There are seven new starters including three on the defensive line. Several freshman and sophomores are playing key roles on the team as well.

After struggling against Duke and University of North Carolina (UNC), Tech’s defense appears to have turned the corner as they forced six turnovers in a blowout win at University of Pittsburgh and held University of Virginia (UVA) to 10 points and 22 rushing yards, 132 below their average. However, Roof believes there is still a lot to improve on this season.

“True confidence is earned with performance, and I think it was a step in the right direction. We’ve just got to keep grinding with a sense of urgency to improve,” Roof explained.

Roof was very pleased with new starter Pat Gamble and true freshman Keshun Freeman. Freeman was ACC defensive lineman of the week, and Roof believes he’ll be a very special player at Tech.

“I’m really proud of [Keshun]. You can see he’s playing faster and reacting,” Roof said. “He understands what he’s supposed to do now, and now it’s not a thinking thing, but more of a reactionary thing, which is how you have to play the game of football.”

The team will be challenged by NC State’s offense who runs a spread formation with a dual threat quarterback similar to Duke’s and UNC’s.

The defense will look to take another step in the right direction, and Roof hopes the defense will continue to perform with true confidence for the rest of the season.