The Washington defense has improved almost 80 slots in total defense from where they sat last season. Credit much of that to new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.
Through the first 5 weeks of 2011, the Huskies were 4-1, with their only loss against Nebraska. Their defense during that stretch was allowing 427 total yards per game (102nd in the nation). Through five games this season, the Huskies are allowing over a hundred yards less, and now rank 23rd nationally with an overall record of 3-1 (their only loss coming to LSU).
Their most impressive performance so far this season was against Stanford, where they held the Cardinal to 68 yards rushing, and just 238 yards of total offense.
Yesterday, the Oregonian did a nice piece that highlighted Wilcox's coaching journey ranging from his switch from safety to corner during his playing days at Oregon, to his first job as a graduate assistant at Boise State, and his first full time job as a linebackers coach at Cal before returning to Boise State at 29 years old as the defensive coordinator.
With Oregon on their schedule this weekend, we are reminded of the successful games that Wilcox has had against his Alma mater. Back in 2009 while at Boise State, Wilcox held Chip Kelly's first Oregon team to 31 yards rushing and just 152 total yards, leading the Broncos to a big 19-8 win. Kelly later evened the score in 2010 against a Wilcox coached Volunteer defense with a 48-13 victory where the Ducks racked up 333 total yards and 182 rushing yards.
Late last December, when Wilcox left the Tennesse staff for Washington, he packed only one bag, and had the rest of his stuff moved later.
"I brought one bag. I packed a hanging bag. That was it. I never went back. I just had my stuff moved." Wilcox said of his return to the Pacific Northwest.
Sark called Wilcox on a Saturday, and by Monday morning Wilcox was on campus at Washington, ready to hit the ground running at his first recruiting meeting. Now, through their first four games, there has been some major improvements.
Wilcox and the Huskies will square off against Oregon this weekend at 10:30pm ET on ESPN.