[David Toney - For Shaw Media]
At North Dakota, Gigli’s defensive front helped lead a group that ranked third nationally in sacks (37) and tackles for loss (93) while also ranking 29th in rushing yards allowed and 26th in scoring defense, the latter two both in the top quarter of the Football Championship Subdivision.
“Four out of my five years, we were really good at North Dakota,” Gigli said.
Getting back to work with Hammock and other familiar faces who came to the staff was a no-brainer, even given his love for North Dakota. Gigli knew that Hammock was thick in the process of seeking the head coaching job, and Gigli tried to help “any way I could.”
Immediately hitting the recruiting trail, Gigli had little chance to catch his breath. With spring ball around the corner, the X’s and O’s soon took hold during the meetings between the new staff.
Working under new defensive coordinator Derrick Jackson, a later addition to the staff, puts Gigli in a position to work with a coach who has had defensive line coaching experience at programs such as Michigan State and Syracuse.
Gigli primarily will work with the Huskies return heavy-hitters on the interior defensive line. They include all-Mid-American Conference third-teamer and junior-to-be Jack Heflin, Weston Kramer, Ben LeRoy and Marcus Kelly.
“The cupboard’s not bare, that’s for sure. My group specifically, the defensive tackles, there’s experience there,” Gigli said. “The fact that those guys have played a lot of ball, and they’re still willing to be coachable, makes my job very, very simple.”
Gigli said that, “You’re going to get what you emphasize,” is a familiar line, one that has been heard around the Huskies program as it related to coach Rod Carey’s commitment to stopping other team’s running game.
“You can only emphasize a few things. You can’t be great at 40 things,” Gigli said. “You’ve got to pick, ‘Hey, here’s what we’re going to hang our hat on.’”
Between well-established relationships in Chicago and recruiting Indiana and Minnesota, Gigli does have one nonfootball activity planned out for some level of respite.
“I’m really excited to be closer to Wrigley Field,” said the Cubs fan.