Much is being made about Steve Sarkisian’s and USC’s potential, some say inevitable, pursuit of Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.
Landing Wilcox would be considered a big coup for the Trojans, and something worth waiting a few days for.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Wilcox was scheduled to interview for the head coach position at Washington on Wednesday. It is unclear how high up the list of candidates Wilcox is.
Getting Wilcox on staff at USC may be quite the financial investment, and pursuing him would likely affect the prospect of retaining current defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, should Wilcox ultimately not wind up at USC.
Wilcox may be the apple of Sarkisian’s eye, but if USC is unable to land him, Pendergast would not be a discouraging “back up plan.”
The 2013 Trojan defense was markedly better than the 2012 version, but still took plenty of lumps along the way, namely the 62-point drubbing at the hands of Arizona State.
Another issue with the defense was the inconsistent play from defensive backs not named Josh Shaw or Su’a Cravens. Passes that should have been intercepted were instead often caught by opposing receivers.
Generally speaking, the defensive backs appeared to lack the proper technique and teaching in locating the ball. The struggling group is one that Pendergast oversaw as USC was without a defensive backs coach.
Not having a position coach for the group is will changes with the expected hire of Keith Heyward.
As for Wilcox, he certainly has the edge in experience as a defensive coordinator in the college ranks with 2013 being his eighth season.
Some of Wilcox’s best work came when he, along with Chris Petersen, were putting Boise State on the map.
Pendergast also has coached eight years at the college level, but only four of them have come as a defensive coordinator.
Where Pendergast does have the unquestioned edge is in NFL experience, which is a major recruiting pitch at USC.
Both coaches have had their defenses ranked among the best in the country. Pendergast at Cal, and Wilcox at Boise State.
All things aren’t equal, but given that Pendergast and Wilcox have successful track records, examine the numbers from their 2013 defenses and vote on who you believe would be the best fit at USC.
Stats in bold indicate that respective defense is stronger in the particular category.
USC’s 2013 defense (13 games)
- 21.3 points per game allowed
- 28.25 points per game allowed against common opponents
- 126.69 rushing yards per game yielded
- 3.92 yards per carry yielded
- 214.46 passing yards per game yielded
- Opponents converted on 34.04% of third downs
- 34 sacks
- 5.03 yards per play
- 8 forced fumbles (5 gained)
- 16 interceptions
Washington’s 2013 defense (12 games)
- 23.4 points per game allowed
- 25.75 points per game allowed against common opponents
- 159.75 rushing yards per game yielded
- 4.16 yards per carry yielded
- 222.17 passing yards per game yielded
- Opponents converted on 38.12% of third downs
- 36 sacks
- 4.99 yards per play
- 10 forced fumbles (7 gained)
- 15 interceptions