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Bucs lose DBs coach Cooper to USF

Posted Jan 11, 2013 by Roy Cummings

Updated Jan 11, 2013 at 11:06 AM


 
BY ROY CUMMINGS
The Tampa Tribune

TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can officially begin the search for a new secondary coach.

Ron Cooper, who came to the Bucs a year ago from LSU, has left the team to join Willie Taggart’s staff at the University of South Florida, where he will become an assistant head coach and secondary coach, Taggart announced.

“Ron Cooper is a valuable addition to our staff,” Taggart said. “His experience will be a huge asset in his role as assistant head coach. In addition, he has recently worked with some of the top secondaries and defensive backs in college football, which will serve us greatly both on the field and in recruiting.”

Cooper inherited a secondary in transition when he joined the Bucs a year ago.

Five-time Pro Bowl veteran Ronde Barber was moving to safety after 15 years at cornerback, Eric Wright was coming aboard through free agency as a replacement for Barber and safety Mark Barron was about to join the team as a first-round draft pick.

Right from the start, though, the unit struggled mightily under Copper, the first signs of trouble coming when Eli Manning threw for 510 yards against them during a 41-34 loss to the New York Giants in Week Two.

The decision to trade Aqib Talib to the Patriots at the trade deadline didn’t help matters, nor did the loss of Wright to a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs.

Those losses left Copper with a unit made up largely of undrafted and untested youngsters such as rookie Leonard Johnson and LeQuan Lewis, and while some players performed well at times, the unit largely struggled as a whole.

With little or no pass rush to aid them, the Bucs pass defense allowed 4,758 yards, which was just 48 less than the Green Bay Packers allowed in 2011, when thy set an NFL record for most passing yards allowed.

The loss of Cooper means the Bucs now must replace at least three assistant coaches from last year’s staff. Receivers coach P.J. Fleck has already left the team to become head coach at Western Michigan University and quarterbacks coach Ron Turner recently left the team to take over as head coach at Florida International.

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