Notre Dame DC Candidate Profile: Doug Belk


Notre Dame still looking to fill first coaching staff for new head coach Marcus Freeman. The last big hire to be made is the defensive coordinator position, and the most recent information from Irish Breakdown indicates that there are four candidates left. Over the next few days we will be providing profiles for each coach and discussing why they would be a good candidate as well as any potential concerns.

Let’s start with Houston’s defensive coordinator Doug Belk.


Current position: Defensive Coordinator – University of Houston

Belk is from Valdosta, Georgia, who played football at Carson-Newman from 2007 to 2010.


2021Houston – Defensive coordinator, assistant head coach, safeties
2020Houston – Co-DC, assistant head coach, safeties
2019Houston – Co-CD, Security
2017-18West Virginia – Cornerbacks
2014-16Alabama – Graduate assistant
2012-13State of Valdosta – Defensive backs
2011State of Valdosta – Defensive assistant, special teams

Belk has helped Houston dramatically improve their defense, especially in his only season as a solo defensive coordinator.

Houston ranked 119th in scoring defense the year before Belk arrived as co-defensive coordinator and 113th in his first season at Houston (2019). The Cougars ranked 127th and 118th in total defense both seasons, 115th and 85th in run defense, 121st and 72nd in third defense, 95th and 94th in sacks.

In his first season as a primary caller, Houston ranked 19th in defense against goals (20.4 PPG), 6th in total defense (302.2 YPG), 14th in yards allowed per play (4, 93), 10th in run defense (108.2 YPG) and 18th in sacks. Houston also led the nation in third defense (25.7%).

Houston also went from 127th in red-zone touchdown defense in its first season (2019) to 7th last season, 117th in pass efficiency defense to 14th, 115th in yards allowed per pass attempt to 22nd , 107th in turnovers won to 22nd, 85th in tackles for loss per game to 25th.


Houston’s base defense is a 4-2-5 look with at least one standing defensive end lined up up front. Sometimes you’ll see both ends in a standing look, but in most cases the Cougar defense had at least three linemen in a three-point position.

Here’s a look at a basic Houston defensive look in 2021.

It’s the basic look you’ll see on first and second down in Houston. The difference is that they will blend the front of an over or under look. The sight above is an overhang, which puts the bandit and nose guard on the limit/weak side.

The clip below is an example of a sub front, which puts the defensive tackle/big end in the boundary.

Base D under

Most of Houston’s looks start with a two-tier security look, but after the shoot, they’ll mix those looks up a bit. You’ll see both safeties fly downhill either in the lanes or replacing a linebacker in the middle.

Sometimes both safeties will roll, but more often than not Houston ends up with just one high-safety look. There have been games where they will run combination coverage with both safeties back and a cornerback also going deep.

Teams that spread Houston with multiple receivers on both sides can get an earlier-than-normal safety.

Base D Under - 2x2

Outside of these situations, Houston’s defense tries to guard both safeties as much as possible, which helps it conceal where the safeties go after the break.

Up front, Houston hasn’t dropped much in games I’ve failed, which means the top four come in the vast majority of the time. Linebackers aren’t too aggressive on the downhill and are normally more read and responsive players.

Houston linemen play a lot of heavy lineups both before and after the break. They’ve been disruptive this season in terms of tackles for loss and sacks, but they’re not overly complex with their line plays.

There are two areas where I’ve seen teams have more success against Houston. First, they were quite vulnerable to post routes this season. Second, teams executing effective mesh concepts has gotten Houston to drop a guy on hunting routes.


Belk would continue the youth movement on Notre Dame’s coaching staff. At just 33 years old, Belk would be one of the youngest coaches on the staff, although he is still several years older than the offensive coordinator. Tommy Ree.

He’s a rising star in the coaching ranks and although he was the game’s primary referee for just one season, Houston’s defense has come a long way this season. His system would fit quite well into the Notre Dame staff, especially with its emphasis on four-fronts.

Coverage-wise, there would be an easy transition to what Notre Dame did last season under Marcus Freeman. On the contrary, Belk needs to be more aggressive based on what I’ve seen in games I’ve failed.

Being a single caller for a single season and only being 33 could make Belk more willing to allow Freeman to have sway over what he does defensively, at least more than a more experienced coordinator would be willing to. accept.

Belk being young with a good reputation as a scout would pretty much match what Freeman wants in that regard. Coming from Georgia and coaching in Alabama for three seasons gives him bona fide in the Southeast.


One of the things that makes Belk an intriguing candidate is also one of the concerns, namely his youth and inexperience. If Belk was hired as a defensive coordinator, it would be 37 years Al Washington the most senior member of the defensive staff.

Although Belk has built an outstanding defense in 2021, the Cougars have struggled against the best teams on the schedule. Houston’s defense gave up 31 points and 7.2 yards per play against Texas Tech, 35 points and 8.9 yards per play against Cincinnati and 30 points and 5.8 yards per play against SMU.

Belk was a graduate assistant just six seasons ago, which is a bit of a concern considering Notre Dame is said to have two relatively green coordinators and a head coach who is only 36 years old.

Belk appears to be on a very similar path to Freeman when it comes to being a solid head coaching option at a young age. If he came to Notre Dame and was successful, he would be a hot commodity for head coaching positions, so there’s a risk he won’t last long at Notre Dame.

Ultimately, however, Freeman is looking to build a staff that gives his program a chance to compete for championships now, and if your best candidate is a guy who can help you win now, but you also risk losing him. in the near future, you take that chance if it means competing now.

It’s easy to see why Belk is a strong candidate for opening at Notre Dame and other top programs.

Next feature will be about Cincinnati Bengals linebackers coach Al Golden.

Be sure to check out the Irish Breakdown message board, the Champions Lounge

Content of the Irish breakdown

Notre Dame List 2021
Schedule Notre-Dame 2021

Ranking of signatories 2022 – Attack
Ranking of signatories 2022 – Defense

Notre Dame 2023 Class Big Board


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