Husky Football: How Much Better Will The Defense Be? Part II


This is the second part of a series in which we look at the Huskies football defense last season as compared to what we can expect for this season. In part one we looked at the handful of defensive players the Huskies lost and the massive list of new players that will be playing for the defense this coming season.

Let’s start part two where we left off part one. The statistics of what Justin Wilcox did after coming to his new program as the new defensive coordinator both at Boise State and Tennessee.

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To really get a picture of how that looks, we need to take a look at the same table but with the name Nick Holt instead. Remember, Holt came with Coach Steve Sarkisian in 2009, the year after arguably the worst season ever for the Washington Huskies, 2008.

[table id=6 /]

The comparison speaks for itself, or should. Even when Wilcox was coordinating in the SEC, the defensive numbers were nowhere near what they were at Washington. It also should be noted that Holt seemingly was only able to really cut down yards in one way or the other, never both. The years he was able to cut down the running attack, passing numbers were through the roof, and vice-versa.

To figure out ‘how much better the defense will be’ we also need to break down certain aspects of Holt’s reign as defensive coordinator as compared to the new coordinator. A deeper look into stats.

All the stats below are for the year 2011.

[table id=7 /]

No real surprises in those lines. The thing I didn’t put in that table and maybe should have, was the fact that Washington was always towards the bottom of the FBS in the above categories while Tennessee was middle of the pack or towards the top.

The line I heard often after part one of the series was, “well it couldn’t get much worse.” But in reality, Husky fans don’t want a defense that is ‘better’ because that is easy to do. The talent alone should make the defense ‘better’, what Husky fans are looking for and hoping they see in Justin Wilcox is a defense that is ‘WAY BETTER’.

The stats above help paint a picture of what it may look like with Wilcox at the helm. There is obviously a +/- you have to give Wilcox as he has a different team and is in a different conference. Whether you see that as a positive thing or a negative thing.


  • He was in a rebuilding situation at Tennessee.
  • He was in the SEC.
  • He only had a couple years to do something at Tennessee.


  • His stats at Tennessee weren’t amazing, fairly average.
  • Boise State stats are inflated because of the weaker conference.
  • He will be inheriting a incredibly terrible defense, while at Tennessee he came in behind another great defensive coordinator in Monty Kiffin.

Which ever way on the fence you fall, or maybe you fall on a little bit of both sides. The crazy thing is, even if you took the stats straight across from Wilcox in 2011 and placed them alongside the Husky offense for 2011. The Huskies would have won 1-3 more games. Needless to say, we don’t live in a world where it works that way so we need to see how Wilcox is able to change and improve this defense.

Early returns are positive.