Recruits: Cincinnati, Dayton, Kentucky, Tennessee
Brian Dougherty completed his fourth season as Valpo’s defensive coordinator in 2022.
Over the last three seasons, Dougherty has been on staff for 12 Pioneer Football League victories, the most in a three-year period in program history. The program finished with a PFL record of .500 or better for a third consecutive season in 2022, the first time that has occurred since 1998-2000. Prior to that, Valpo had not had a stretch of three straight years with a league record of .500 or better since 1961-1964.
The program won four PFL games in the same season just once in the 26 seasons prior to this staff’s arrival. Now, the program has reached that threshold in three straight seasons and three of the first four years with Dougherty on staff (Spring 2021, Fall 2021, 2022).
Dougherty’s fourth season saw the program accrue 70 tackles for loss, tied for the fifth most in a single season in program history. Prior to Dougherty’s arrival, Valpo last had 70+ TFL in a season in 2007 and had done so just once since 1985. Now, the team has boasted 70 or more TFL in each of his three full seasons as defensive coordinator (Spring 2021 was shortened to six games due to COVID-19).
The 2022 campaign also saw Valpo lead the PFL and rank sixth nationally in fourth-down defense, holding opponents to just 30 percent on fourth down. The program led the PFL and ranked eighth nationally in red-zone defense at .705. The team also ranked in the top five in the PFL in the following defensive categories – turnovers gained (16), sacks (2.25 per game, third), TFL (5.8 per game, fourth), rushing defense (151.5, fourth) and interceptions (10).
Four members of Dougherty’s defense were recognized when the 2022 All-PFL teams were released – Ben Hines (First Team), Sam Hafner (Second Team), Kohton Sherman (Second Team) and Kevin Spelman (Honorable Mention). Spelman was also named to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List (FCS National Freshman of the Year), and three defensive players were honored on the Academic All-PFL Teams including two on the First Team. Sherman had a stretch of four straight games with an interception including a 95-yard pick six at Marist, shattering a program record of 94 that had stood since 2000.
Dougherty’s defense held rival Butler to just three points in a 47-3 victory on Nov. 13, 2021, the first time Valpo went on the road and held an opponent to three points or fewer since 2006. That helped the team shatter a program record for margin of victory against a Division-I opponent.
The team notched 32 sacks in Fall 2021, the program’s most since 2000 and fifth-most in a single season in program history. Valpo ranked 15th nationally in FCS and led the PFL in sacks per game at 2.91. Valpo was also among the national leaders in tackles for loss per game at 7.3, ranking 15th in FCS. The team’s 80 TFLs were its most since 1984 and the second most in program history. Valpo had 18 tackles for loss in a single game vs. Presbyterian, tied for the most in the Division-I nation (FCS and FBS). The team’s 10 sacks vs. the Blue Hose were tied for the fifth most in FCS. Valpo had its highest single-game TFL total since at least 2004 and the program’s first double-figure sack total in over 20 years. Valpo had two safeties in a single game vs. Dartmouth, the first time the program recorded two safeties in the same season – let alone the same game – since 2006.
Trejuan Purty finished the Fall 2021 season with 15 tackles for loss, tied for the fifth-most in single-season program history. He recorded five TFL vs. Presbyterian, tied for the fifth most in the FCS nation in a single game during the season. Austin Martins had 4.5 TFL vs. San Diego, tied for the 14th most nationally in a single game, while Gavin Twigg’s four vs. Presbyterian tied for 26th. Another individual defensive highlight came courtesy of Jamauri Jackson, who had an 83-yard interception return for a touchdown, Valpo’s longest pick six since 2000.
One member of Dougherty’s defense earned All-PFL Second Team recognition, while five others garnered All-PFL Honorable Mention in Fall 2021. In addition, two defensive players were named to the Academic All-PFL First Team, while one earned Academic All-PFL Second Team status.
In Dougherty’s second season coordinating the defense, the team enjoyed its best defensive season in four decades. Valpo held opponents to 283.3 yards per game, the program’s best total defense in the last 40 years. Valpo limited the opposition to 172.2 passing yards per game, the program’s best passing defense since 2008. In addition, the squad boasted its best rushing defense (111.2 yards per game) and scoring defense (18.7 points per game) since 1999.
Several individuals on Dougherty’s defense thrived during the Spring 2021 campaign. Freshman defensive back Keyon Turner was a finalist for FCS National Freshman of the Year, was the lone rookie on the All-PFL First Team, earned Freshman All-American honors and led the nation in takeaways with two interceptions and four fumble recoveries in just six games. Jaxon Peifer joined Turner in representing the Valpo defense on the All-PFL First Team, while Evan Annis garnered Second Team honors. In addition, two Valpo defensive players received All-PFL Honorable Mention and three were named Academic All-PFL honorees.
During his first year in 2019, Dougherty’s leadership made an immediate impact on the defensive side of the ball. He oversaw a unit that had a knack for dropping opponents behind the line of scrimmage as Valpo racked up 70 tackles for loss, the program’s most since 2007 and tied for the fourth-most in a single season in program history. Valpo had seven or more tackles for loss in four different games, a feat the team had achieved just once in the previous three seasons combined.
Dougherty instructed defensive back Jamari Booker, who racked up 101 tackles and five interceptions during his senior season in 2019, earning All-PFL Second Team honors. Booker was named the PFL Player of the Week, STATS FCS National Defensive Player of the Week and College Sports Madness National Defensive Player of the Week after a 13-tackle, two-interception performance against Stetson. Booker then became the second PFL player since 2002 with multiple career games of 20 tackles or more by achieving 21 on Nov. 2 at Davidson. Booker finished third in the league in tackles per game (8.4), second in total tackles (101) and third in interceptions (five).
Dougherty also coached three All-PFL Honorable Mention recipients and two Academic All-PFL Second Team honorees on the defensive side of the ball during his first year in charge of the unit. He was part of Valpo’s first victory of the Landon Fox head coaching era on Oct. 26, 2019 as Valpo topped Stetson 19-10. That win came behind a dominant defensive showing as Valpo allowed 10 points or fewer in a game for just the fourth time in a 19-year span. Stetson entered the contest ranked first in the FCS nation in total offense. The Hatters came into the game with a 5-1 record, the first time Valpo beat a team that stood at 5-1 or better since 2003.
In Year 1 with Dougherty as DC, Valpo ranked in the Top 5 in the PFL in scoring defense (32.0, fifth), total defense (381.6, fourth), rushing defense (184.2, fourth) and passing defense (197.3, fifth). The defense also thrived in critical down-and-distance situations, as the team’s opponent third-down conversion percentage of 32.4 ranked second in the league and its opponent fourth-down conversion percentage of 46.2 was third.
In Dougherty’s first season, Valpo ranked in the Top 5 in the PFL in scoring defense for the first time since the 2004 season. The team finished fourth in the PFL in total defense, its best ranking in that area since 2007. The rushing defense (fourth) and passing defense (fifth) cracked the top five in the league for the first time since 2007 and 2008, respectively. On third down, the Valpo defense permitted opponents to convert just 32.4 percent of the time, the team’s best third-down defense since holding opponents to 28.7 percent in 2000. The 2019 campaign marked the first time Valpo finished in the top five in the PFL in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense and passing defense all in the same season since at least 2001.
Before arriving on Valpo’s campus, Dougherty spent the 2018 campaign as the defensive backs coach at Tiffin University, where he instructed a first-team all-conference selection and two second-team all-conference honorees and contributed to the team’s 9-2 season. He was the corners coach at the University of Dayton during the 2016 and 2017 seasons when Fox was the defensive coordinator for the Flyers. Dougherty was part of a Dayton defense that held opponents to an average of 19.7 points per game over two seasons while leading the PFL in interceptions in 2016 and finishing second in 2017.
Before joining the Flyers, Dougherty spent two seasons at Ball State University as a graduate assistant working with wide receivers in 2015 and defensive backs in 2014. Prior to Ball State, he served as the corners coach at Millikin University in 2013.
Dougherty was a student assistant and manager for the Miami (Ohio) football program from 2010-2012, working with quarterbacks, linebackers and the defensive line. He was part of the 2010 team that won the MAC championship and the GoDaddy.com Bowl. He received his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Miami in 2012 and his master’s in athletic coaching education from Ball State in 2016.
What They’re Saying About Coach Dougherty
Rick Chamberlin, University of Dayton Head Coach: “Coach Fox made a great decision in hiring Brian Dougherty. During the years he worked here at Dayton, I was impressed with his defensive knowledge, but more importantly his coaching skills with his players. I know his defense will be prepared and play hard.”
Mike Yeager, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Teams Coordinator and Defensive Assistant: “Brian is an outstanding coach. First and foremost, he is a great teacher of defensive back technique. He is also very knowledgeable in overall defensive scheme. Most importantly, he truly cares about the overall wellbeing of his players. Valpo has made a great hire for the defensive coordinator position.”
Joey Lynch, Ball State University Offensive Coordinator: “Brian’s knowledge, passion and enthusiasm for the game of football is contagious. He is a tireless worker who will have his players prepared and ready to go every Saturday.”
Pete Lembo, University of Memphis Special Teams Coordinator and Assistant Head Coach: “Brian is a bright young coach who is organized and detail-oriented. He is also a high quality person who will relate very well with the student-athletes and other members of the University community.”
Gary Goff, Valdosta State University Head Coach: “I was very fortunate to have had Brian work on my staff. He is a great coach that has a bright future. Brian has a passion for the game and it carries over to his players. He will be very successful.”