A basketball coach by the name of Dave Thorson once said, “No doubt offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.” After last Thursday, where defense was key to the win over Stanford, the Huskies could get on board with such a statement. And no one can stress the importance of defense more than Defensive Coordinator Justin Wilcox. Wilcox’s tenure with the Huskies has been short – this is his first season with the Dawgs – but with a solid defensive line and a winning record thus far of 3—1, Coach Steve Sarkisian is likely to keep this promising young coach around for a while.
Here are a couple things to know about Justin Wilcox:
1. Football Family Ties
There may be a divided Wilcox house this Saturday when the Huskies play the Ducks, since Wilcox, his father Dave and older brother Josh all attended and played football for the University of Oregon. Wilcox attended U of O from 1996—1999 where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Anthropology.
Rivalry with a Seattle team doesn’t stop at the university steps however: Wilcox’s father is better known by NFL fans as an All-Pro linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers (the NFC West rivals of the Seattle Seahawks) from 1964—1974. While Seattle fans might not celebrate the senior Wilcox’s affiliation with their division rival, any fan can appreciate Dave Wilcox’s impressive honor in 2000, when he was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
2. Coaching Pedigree
Before UW, Wilcox coached at Boise State, Cal and Tennessee. His coaching career began in 2001 at Boise State as a graduate assistant. Wilcox remained in Idaho for another year, then became linebackers coach with Cal, 2003—2005. His return to Boise State in 2006 was when Wilcox first adopted his present title as Defensive Coordinator. During his four year tenure with the Broncos, they maintained a winning record of 49—4 and during the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, beat Oklahoma in overtime, 43—42. Wilcox remained with Boise State until 2009, when he moved on to Tennessee. There he helped the Volunteers maintain a dominating defense to the extent that in 2011, UT was No. 28 in the nation for total defense, with 340.5 yards per game.
Two common themes stand out with Wilcox’s past teams: a winning record and bowl games. But before the Huskies can think about the latter, they have some work cut out for them on Saturday against the Ducks who are 5—0 and first in the Pac-12. Wilcox may have grown up a Duck, but on Saturday, as a Dawg, his “Mighty Oregon” fight song will be replaced with “Bow Down to Washington.”