Ranking 20 Years of UCLA Defensive Coordinators

10 of 12

October 12, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; California Golden Bears wide receiver Chris Harper (6) runs the ball against the defense of UCLA Bruins cornerback Ishmael Adams (24) during the first half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

2. DeWayne Walker, 2006 – 2008

DeWayne Walker was brought in by Karl Dorrell from the NFL, where he coached the secondary for Washington. His main job was to clean up Larry Kerr’s ridiculous mess of a defense and provide a reliable unit that could take over once Dorrell’s ‘west coast offense’ ran Chris Markey into the line three times in a row for no gain.

More: Paul Perkins and Myles Jack Make the Walter Camp Award Watch List

Statistical Rankings
Year | SOS | SD | TD | DFEI | DS&P+
2006 | 7 | 40 | 32 | n/a | 28
2007 | 1 | 30 | 26 | 3 | 10
Avg. A* | 4 | 35 | 29 | 3 | 19
2008 | 23 | 86 | 39 | 55 | 58
Avg. B* | 10 | 52 | 32 | 29 | 32

* I’ve averaged Walker’s stats twice. Average A is for the Dorrell years. Average B is total, including his one year on Neuheisel’s staff. There’s a marked difference there, and I don’t know how to explain it.

  • Was Walker bored/disaffected from being passed over for the head coaching gig?
  • Was the forced relationship between him and Neuheisel (due to Guerrero telling Neuheisel that retaining Walker was a precondition for getting the job) that toxic?
  • Were the recruiting failures during Dorrell’s tenure coming home to roost?
  • Was Walker’s well-known aversion to recruiting to blame?

Yes to all, I’m sure, but in what distribution? I don’t know.

Walker’s defense was a 4-3 base formation with high-volume blitzes. It featured future NFL draftees Horton, Davis, Verner, Price, Carter, Moore, and Ayers. Besides the signature achievement of his UCLA years, the 2006 upset of #2 USC in a smothering, suffocating defensive showcase, Walker’s defense also had some high-profile implosions:

  • The gut-punch defensive breakdown that let Jeff Samardzija run free for the game-winning touchdown at Notre Dame.
  • Giving up 44 points in the Emerald Bowl to a toothless Florida State team led by QB Drew Weatherford.
  • Giving up 44 points at Utah in the game that got Dorrell fired (and that made me the angriest I’ve ever been about a UCLA game).
  • Giving up 59 points at BYU in an (admittedly turnover-filled) game so humiliating, EDSBS has asked it to be erased from the recordbooks.

Walker’s defenses tended to perform well against pro-style offenses and look completely baffled by spread offenses and mobile quarterbacks. He’s this high on the list because of those stats in his first two years (UCLA had the third most efficient defense against the toughest schedule† in the nation in 2007! – UCLA!), but when he left to take the head coaching job at New Mexico State, it was probably time for both parties to move on. He had bigger ambitions; UCLA had a date with Chuck Bullough, Joe Tresey, self-immolation, the bottom of the barrell, and then, ultimately, rebirth. That said, we’ll always have 13-9.

Where is he now: Walker has been coaching defensive backs for the Jacksonville Jaguars since 2013, when he resigned from New Mexico State, having amassed a 10-40 record and angered his administration, alumni, and fans.

†I just want to note here that three times in the period under consideration, UCLA had the toughest schedule in the nation – ’00, ’07, ’14. That’s crazy. Additionally, the Bruins five other times have had one of the top ten hardest schedules – ’96, ’98, ’02, ’06, ’10. So for eight of the 19 years we’re looking at, UCLA played one of the ten toughest schedules in the country.

Next: Rebirth