Adams: Impressive numbers back Wilcox hire

John Adams

Tennessee fans have endured so much coaching trauma in the last 15 months, they might be immune to panic. So maybe they couldn't work up a healthy scream at the latest coaching news.

UT coach Derek Dooley has hired a defensive coordinator from the WAC. And he's not even half the age of UT's last defensive coordinator.

Amidst all of UT's coaching changes, isn't that at least worth a cold sweat?

Forget the age. Make Justin Wilcox 53 instead of 33. He's still from the WAC.

That's the WAC, not the Mountain West, where TCU has become a regular steel curtain the last few years and where Wyoming built a defense stout enough to hold UT to seven points in 2008. A summer breeze offers more resistance than an average WAC defense.

Idaho scored 45 points in a WAC game this past season. And lost by 25.

Idaho's 2007 team scored 67 points in a conference game. And lost by two in the fourth overtime.

Don't get the wrong idea. You don't need four overtimes to score 60 points in a WAC game. In 2006, Hawaii averaged 61.8 points in five consecutive 60-minute WAC games.

Scared yet?

Or maybe you have done your own research. Then, you know Wilcox isn't just from the WAC. He's from Boise State.

In the last nine years. Hawaii has scored in single digits only five times. Two of those times were against Wilcox-coached defenses.

That might not convince you that Wilcox is the next Nick Saban. But it might dissuade you from judging him guilty by WAC association.

As un-WAC as this might read, Boise didn't go 14-0 and finish fourth nationally in 2009 solely by posting basketball-size scores. It ranked 14th nationally in total defense and third in turnovers gained.

And that's not just against the WAC.

TCU averaged 51 points in the last four games of an unbeaten regular season. It scored 10 in a seven-point loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Oregon scored 42 or more points in five consecutive Pac-10 games. It scored eight in the season opener against Boise State.

The WAC might not prepare a defensive coordinator for SEC talent, but it does prepare him for wielding short straws.

Offense comes first in the WAC, and defensive coordinators are left to make the best of it. A WAC defensive coordinator better have a thick skin and a nimble mind, because he often will be at a talent disadvantage against some of the most creative offenses in the country.

Wilcox will confront a different challenge at UT. He's succeeding an NFL defensive guru in Monte Kiffin, who could recruit on name alone. Before Kiffin, there was John Chavis, whose long run of success at Tennessee has continued at LSU.

Wilcox's name hardly carries that kind of clout, although the more experienced fans among you might remember watching his dad, Dave Wilcox, who was a Hall of Fame linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers.

Before the 2008 season, I would have been hard-pressed to tell you who Boise State's defensive coordinator was. In fact, I wasn't sure the WAC had defensive coordinators.

But while tuning in Boise State on so many Friday night telecasts over the last two years, I expected to see WAC offense and came away with a growing appreciation for the Broncos' defense.

Sometimes, it was scary good.

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 50

cdonsbach writes:

Wilcox is going to do great here.

UT4ever writes:

Adams, you actually wrote a good article!! Not scary good, but solid!! HOHHHOHHHO!!!!

CroKev writes:

Chavis' deal with LSU was a 3-year escalating salary going from $450k to $500k. Georgia tried to hire him last month for $600k but he turned it down when LSU matched it (at least). Looks like we're paying a lot of money to a young guy with a brilliant defensive mind. We're not going to have the talent (certainly not the depth) that some of the top-tier SEC teams will have this year so, hopefully, Wilcox will be the equalizer. I also really like the idea of Smith being a pro trainer - developing individuals into 1st round draft picks and pro-bowlers. I wonder how that differs functionally with what a DL line coach in the the NFL does (other than being limited to just players on his team).

TxFatBoy writes:

Say what you will, but I wasn't that impressed with Monte's defense. He helped up win a game or two, and kept us close against UF and Bama but simply couldn't seem to compete against Ole Miss and Va. Tech. The both scored easily and frequently and we did damn little to slow them down.

rusty_shackleford writes:

No one is half the age of our last DC

vut56#231073 writes:

If we scored Adams on debating points, he gave us more reasons to run for the hills than to rejoice, but his punch line makes his point.

Race drivers start in go-carts and Wilcox is well past that. If one can manage he (or she) can manage; if one can coach, he (or she) can coach. In this case, of course, he faces the mighty SEC. But he will be coaching SEC athletes, so the field is leveled. Seems a good fit in every way.

GreerVol22 writes:

We are so thankful to have John's blessing of this new DC...aren't we gang? Because without it we feel so empty inside...

PoochPuntOn3rdDown writes:

Wilcox helped Boise St beat Oregon last year by holding them to 8 points. Wouldn't that be a great start to the 2010 season if he helped UT beat Oregon? At least we know he's familiar with their offense...

volsoutwest writes:

in response to PoochPuntOn3rdDown:

Wilcox helped Boise St beat Oregon last year by holding them to 8 points. Wouldn't that be a great start to the 2010 season if he helped UT beat Oregon? At least we know he's familiar with their offense...

Very good observation.

Southland writes:

here is hoping he has some players to work with. I am sure he can do a good job but he wasnt left with much to work with. Why is it every one in the country understands Chavis is a pretty good coach except for many UT fans. His defense is what carried us for many years and yet he is still bashed by Vols fans. Was he perfect? No but he did as well as the Monte-see VT and Ole Miss reruns. I like that we have a young coach that can learn and adapt.

VolMoment writes:

in response to TxFatBoy:

Say what you will, but I wasn't that impressed with Monte's defense. He helped up win a game or two, and kept us close against UF and Bama but simply couldn't seem to compete against Ole Miss and Va. Tech. The both scored easily and frequently and we did damn little to slow them down.

Thanks TxFatBoy, I wasn't that impressed with Monte's defense either and in fact I had become concerned after the Ole Miss game. Coaches for the other team were finally figuring out how to attack his system. The bowl game proved that next year we would have found out that he wasn't suited for the college game. I also was not impressed with lane's play calling. lane won seven games. I remeber when Bob Stoops took over an Oklahoma team that had been down for years, he said this is a proud program and proud programs don't rebuild, they adjust their attitude. He didn't talk about other scools and players like Reggie Bush that USC bought. Vol fans we are lucky that lane was a classless A---h
and left because we were headed for a train wreck and possible NCAA penalties. We now have a class, smart and players coach that mommies will want their sons to play for. He also recognizes young and upcoming coaches talent. I could not believe Ed the thug was a coach at Tennessee after what I knew about him from my Ole Miss friends. Thank goodness he is gone. Thanks CDD for becoming our coach and restoring reapectibility.

Orange writes:

This was the best committment from Signing Day!

Boise State led the WAC in total defense and scoring defense all four seasons under Wilcox and were 49-4 in that span.

Maybe we can paint the field orange now?

Docrok writes:

in response to Orange:

This was the best committment from Signing Day!

Boise State led the WAC in total defense and scoring defense all four seasons under Wilcox and were 49-4 in that span.

Maybe we can paint the field orange now?

Man that would be hard to look at LOL!! And I love ORANGE!!!! GBO!!

nocleats writes:

It really wont be fair to judge him until he gets " and has time to develop" some D tackles. We are 2 injuries away from moving walk on and 2nd team O lineman into starting D tackle positions

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to VolMoment:

Thanks TxFatBoy, I wasn't that impressed with Monte's defense either and in fact I had become concerned after the Ole Miss game. Coaches for the other team were finally figuring out how to attack his system. The bowl game proved that next year we would have found out that he wasn't suited for the college game. I also was not impressed with lane's play calling. lane won seven games. I remeber when Bob Stoops took over an Oklahoma team that had been down for years, he said this is a proud program and proud programs don't rebuild, they adjust their attitude. He didn't talk about other scools and players like Reggie Bush that USC bought. Vol fans we are lucky that lane was a classless A---h
and left because we were headed for a train wreck and possible NCAA penalties. We now have a class, smart and players coach that mommies will want their sons to play for. He also recognizes young and upcoming coaches talent. I could not believe Ed the thug was a coach at Tennessee after what I knew about him from my Ole Miss friends. Thank goodness he is gone. Thanks CDD for becoming our coach and restoring reapectibility.

I actually liked Monte as a DC, but yes… he was a little susceptible to the spread. However, I felt the players were much more disciplined on the field. Too many times under Chavis we all feared 3rd and long. His players were built around speed, but that speed often caused them to over pursue and give up big plays. Monte’s players were good at sticking to their assignments. But I do agree… I think the college game has passed Monte by. He got too complacent with pro offenses and couldn’t seem to re-adapt to the college schemes.

ringgoldvolfan writes:

in response to TxFatBoy:

Say what you will, but I wasn't that impressed with Monte's defense. He helped up win a game or two, and kept us close against UF and Bama but simply couldn't seem to compete against Ole Miss and Va. Tech. The both scored easily and frequently and we did damn little to slow them down.

I tend to agree, but you have to remember how banged up we were on D last year. Especially the LB's. We seemed to have trouble with spread teams and handled the pro style pretty well.

VolsToTheWall writes:

in response to rusty_shackleford:

No one is half the age of our last DC

i think joepa's close.

mbible1utk#324980 writes:

I always say when it comes to coaches that if they can handle a smaller assignment and succeed, they deserve a bigger assignment. He did well on a WAC talent level, let's see what he does with talent at the level Tennessee can get.

Gumby#1381110 writes:

I'm looking forward to the Wilcox D

BreatheUT writes:

Toward the end of the year, Monte Kiffin's defense was terrible. This might turn into an upgrade especially once you factor in the salary savings and the fact that the guy has prepared against some of the more imaginative and open college offenses in the nation.

GBO

tnsportsman writes:

in response to RichRollin:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Good Point and remember Coach Wilcox's success at BSU over the last 4 years was accomplished with an average on Recruiting Ranked Classes of #75! That's lower than any SEC Team during those 4 years, minus Vaaaanderbilt, LOL. WOW!

GBO!

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to TxFatBoy:

Say what you will, but I wasn't that impressed with Monte's defense. He helped up win a game or two, and kept us close against UF and Bama but simply couldn't seem to compete against Ole Miss and Va. Tech. The both scored easily and frequently and we did damn little to slow them down.

Agree. Chavis put several defenses out there over the years that were statistically better. However, I will say that had Monte stayed and gotten a couple more classes under his belt, his genius would have been more on display. That said, stopping the power run game of Alabama or the dive/spread/Tebow option of Florida is easier to defend than quickness on the edges we faced at Ole Miss and Va Tech. In fact, the only thing Wilcox didn't face every week was a good old SEC power run game. I'll bet between Smith, Thompson, and Wilcox, they can figure that out. I'm more interested in being able to stop true spreads, spread options, and option running games, something more and more teams are using, for at least part of the games. I like the hire, even better than most of the guys we whispered to before the hire. Go Vols!!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to vut56#231073:

If we scored Adams on debating points, he gave us more reasons to run for the hills than to rejoice, but his punch line makes his point.

Race drivers start in go-carts and Wilcox is well past that. If one can manage he (or she) can manage; if one can coach, he (or she) can coach. In this case, of course, he faces the mighty SEC. But he will be coaching SEC athletes, so the field is leveled. Seems a good fit in every way.

I agree. After all those gimmicky WAC offenses Wilcox has seen, nothing any SEC team does will shock him, scheme-wise. If anything, he should be even more effective at UT, where the athletes on defense will be as good as the offensive talent and schemes he was going against out there.

balloonman writes:

thats the nicest thing you have ever said about "Chief".....funny how things look thru LSU glasses.....shame on you Adams!

PennVol writes:

in response to PoochPuntOn3rdDown:

Wilcox helped Boise St beat Oregon last year by holding them to 8 points. Wouldn't that be a great start to the 2010 season if he helped UT beat Oregon? At least we know he's familiar with their offense...

Wilcox also played at Oregon in the late 90's. I think our chances of beating them at home went way up with this hire.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Southland:

here is hoping he has some players to work with. I am sure he can do a good job but he wasnt left with much to work with. Why is it every one in the country understands Chavis is a pretty good coach except for many UT fans. His defense is what carried us for many years and yet he is still bashed by Vols fans. Was he perfect? No but he did as well as the Monte-see VT and Ole Miss reruns. I like that we have a young coach that can learn and adapt.

Speaking for myself, I think many of us respected Chavis' defenses EXCEPT for that mystifying "3d-and-Chavis" thing. Also, if one can say that Monte's defenses were out-schemed by Auburn, Ole Miss, and VT, what excuse does Chavis have for the way Florida and Bama went up and down the field on us? As to your main point, I think Wilcox will at least keep us in the same conversations about tough defenses that Chavis and Monte did.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ringgoldvolfan:

I tend to agree, but you have to remember how banged up we were on D last year. Especially the LB's. We seemed to have trouble with spread teams and handled the pro style pretty well.

Good point. When a team is having to replace its on-field defensive play-caller every couple of games, it is hard to maintain the discipline and cohesion necessary to contain spread-type offenses, not to mention the increasing lack of skilled, healthy bodies.

punkin writes:

Dooley said the words "momma" and "britches" in his initial presser. He said Wilcox's defensive players play "like their hair is on fire". I'm sold. He speaks my southern english and I adore his momma.

rockytopatl writes:

I didn't realize Wilcox was Dave Wilcox' son. That's a great football pedigree, right up there with Dooley's.

As for Monte's defense, I'd have to disagree with some of the previous posters. His schemes to shut down 'Bama and Florida bordered on brilliant, especially with the cobbled together group of linebackers. Auburn showed he was mortal, however, and the college game had a few things to teach him.

I don't blame him for the Ole Miss debacle. The armed robbery fiasco ripped the heart and soul out of the team and also showed how important Jackson was to the team. I don't think Lombardi could have gotten them ready to play that week.

The one game he got outcoached was Va Tech, and I think his guys quit on him. Emotion was huge in that one too. When Moore dropped that sure touchdown, it let all the air out of the team. Defense depends on emotion and we didn't have much in the Georgia Dome.

volsfan74 writes:

Adams in your story why not mention that Wilcox will be developing and recruiting a much higher level of talent than he did at Boise State! As you said Offense is first in the WAC so when recruiting offense was the area of concentration.

PureOrange writes:

As I sat in Oxford last year and watched Ole Miss run all over us, and sitting behind our bench watching our coaching staff not getting excited or making any changes, I would have loved to have see Justin Wilcox out there on our side.

I believe he will do great, and I certainly do not expect Ole Miss to come to Knoxville and have free reign of our field.

DRORANGELOVE writes:

Hi Everybody, This is my first post ever on this website, so I thought it might be fun to present all of you with a What IF ????? What if Coach Dooley and Chuck Smith could get in Seantrel Hendersons living room and talk with him and his parents about coming to UT instead of USC ? He has not signed his letter of Intentwith USC yet and says he won't until he sees what the results of the ongoing NCAA investigation is going to be. Would it not be poetic justice to steal Kiffin/USC's top recruit away from them? PRICELESS !!!! Oh well, Just a thought. Someone reading this might know CDD and mention it to him. Who knows, it might work. STRANGE things can happen in the world of recruiting. Congrats to CDD and his staff on a great job of recruiting, and also for giving UT a staff of coaches who have 10 times more class and character than what we previously had. Also I would like to take this opportunity to Thank coaches Thompson and Cheyney for staying at UT. I truly believe you both made good decisions that will prove themselves in the future. GBO !!!

VOLSfan1982 writes:

in response to rockytopatl:

I didn't realize Wilcox was Dave Wilcox' son. That's a great football pedigree, right up there with Dooley's.

As for Monte's defense, I'd have to disagree with some of the previous posters. His schemes to shut down 'Bama and Florida bordered on brilliant, especially with the cobbled together group of linebackers. Auburn showed he was mortal, however, and the college game had a few things to teach him.

I don't blame him for the Ole Miss debacle. The armed robbery fiasco ripped the heart and soul out of the team and also showed how important Jackson was to the team. I don't think Lombardi could have gotten them ready to play that week.

The one game he got outcoached was Va Tech, and I think his guys quit on him. Emotion was huge in that one too. When Moore dropped that sure touchdown, it let all the air out of the team. Defense depends on emotion and we didn't have much in the Georgia Dome.

Monte is Monte (great guy...poor fathering skills...and a Pro-style defensive genius.) That's it. Look at what happened to LSU's Chavis (LA Tech nearly beat them) These guys have been surpassed by the new college game. I, for one, am looking forward to a young, fresh, energetic mind. Welcome coach Wilcox. GBO

givehim6 writes:

The more I hear about coach Wilcox the more I am impressed by him. I mean if Adams wrights positive things well hu, he hardly ever is positive about UT football.

ORNGFACTOR writes:

I knew this article was comming from Adams.

Hey Adams, lets have your bio or resume. In all fairness you make lots of opinionated statements and not many factual statements to support your stories. If your going to report on this then prove to us that your credible.

volsnationalchamps writes:

I think he will do fine. As long as he can coach up players, develop them which shouldn't be problem considering the job he did in Boise. Young up and coming coach, can relate to the players. I like the hire. GO VOLS!!!

Titans_Vols777 writes:

in response to Orange:

This was the best committment from Signing Day!

Boise State led the WAC in total defense and scoring defense all four seasons under Wilcox and were 49-4 in that span.

Maybe we can paint the field orange now?

HAHAHAHAHA I agree with you with everything but painting the field orange. I LOVE this hire.

10volunteers98 writes:

Let`s forget about the defensive 'GURU' Kiffin.He wasn`t in K-Town long enough for the bread to bake.So much for him and his piece of
---- son.Let`s also forget about monkey boy Orgeron,and all the rest of the traitors.I only wish Hamilton could have hired Dooley first,instead of the little weasel.GO,VOLS!!!

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to 10volunteers98:

Let`s forget about the defensive 'GURU' Kiffin.He wasn`t in K-Town long enough for the bread to bake.So much for him and his piece of
---- son.Let`s also forget about monkey boy Orgeron,and all the rest of the traitors.I only wish Hamilton could have hired Dooley first,instead of the little weasel.GO,VOLS!!!

Without first hiring Fast Lane and his merry band of Trogans, we could not begin to appreciate the class of CDD and his staff. GBO!!

ellerbee123 writes:

I also was "not" at all impressed with Monte Kiffin. Disappointment was mainly my feeling of him. Tampa Bay wasn't all that. Gosh, if he doesn't do any better at USC, his son will be fired..........

tennezz writes:

in response to Southland:

here is hoping he has some players to work with. I am sure he can do a good job but he wasnt left with much to work with. Why is it every one in the country understands Chavis is a pretty good coach except for many UT fans. His defense is what carried us for many years and yet he is still bashed by Vols fans. Was he perfect? No but he did as well as the Monte-see VT and Ole Miss reruns. I like that we have a young coach that can learn and adapt.

Chavis was an excellent coach [except for 3rd down] but he could not, would not, recruit at Tennessee! You have to do it all to be considered one of the best!

punkin writes:

in response to ellerbee123:

I also was "not" at all impressed with Monte Kiffin. Disappointment was mainly my feeling of him. Tampa Bay wasn't all that. Gosh, if he doesn't do any better at USC, his son will be fired..........

Wonder how that would be if the kid had to fire pop.

VOLS331972 writes:

in response to FearTheVols1252:

I actually liked Monte as a DC, but yes… he was a little susceptible to the spread. However, I felt the players were much more disciplined on the field. Too many times under Chavis we all feared 3rd and long. His players were built around speed, but that speed often caused them to over pursue and give up big plays. Monte’s players were good at sticking to their assignments. But I do agree… I think the college game has passed Monte by. He got too complacent with pro offenses and couldn’t seem to re-adapt to the college schemes.

every one says the defence was better under monte but if you look at th estats you will see that we were actualy worse in every catagory.monte did a ok job but it wasnt super

gtown_vol writes:

in response to UT4ever:

Adams, you actually wrote a good article!! Not scary good, but solid!! HOHHHOHHHO!!!!

amen!

798orange writes:

in response to orangeblood5:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Makes no sense, you don't fire someone a few days after they hire a new coach. His job is directly tied to Dooley's performance anyway. The improvements to Neyland Stadium and TBA under his watch are impressive. I do agree that the contracts of Kiffin and his staff were not handled like they should have been, he threw money away. Hopefully he has learned from this.

Vol_in_exile writes:

in response to VolMoment:

Thanks TxFatBoy, I wasn't that impressed with Monte's defense either and in fact I had become concerned after the Ole Miss game. Coaches for the other team were finally figuring out how to attack his system. The bowl game proved that next year we would have found out that he wasn't suited for the college game. I also was not impressed with lane's play calling. lane won seven games. I remeber when Bob Stoops took over an Oklahoma team that had been down for years, he said this is a proud program and proud programs don't rebuild, they adjust their attitude. He didn't talk about other scools and players like Reggie Bush that USC bought. Vol fans we are lucky that lane was a classless A---h
and left because we were headed for a train wreck and possible NCAA penalties. We now have a class, smart and players coach that mommies will want their sons to play for. He also recognizes young and upcoming coaches talent. I could not believe Ed the thug was a coach at Tennessee after what I knew about him from my Ole Miss friends. Thank goodness he is gone. Thanks CDD for becoming our coach and restoring reapectibility.

VolMoment, if you're right about Monte, we'll get confirmation of it this year when USC plays PAC-10 schools. It seems the thing they do best is offense, and if Monte's defenses were easily dismantled, they (eg Norm Chow) should find a way.

But there's another possibility here: that Monte was doing the best he could with the talent he had -- and was losing that talent piecemeal over the course of the season because of injuries (were we down to our 4th string MLB by year's end?) and 'extra-curricular activities' (the Ole Miss game was a little over 2 days after the great pellet-gun hold-up on the Strip, and Janzen Jackson missed it because his name wasn't yet cleared). He spent a lot of the year using DE's as DT's.

Monte will have the talent (especially relative to other PAC-10 schools) at USC. If he really doesn't live up to his billing, I think it won't take long for that to show.

All-in-all, like many on this board I'm also hopeful about Dooley, Wilcox et al. I don't expect much this coming year, but it's really nice to see the pieces coming together. In the next few years, I'm hoping we steadily climb out of mediocrity in the SEC back into the race for SEC crowns -- and more.

jack_2222#231746 writes:

His old man Dave Wilcox played really hard more than being talented, a tough guy.

If anybody can coach against spread stuff, a guy who had success in the WAC should do the trick.

idiocracy writes:

John Chavis dedicated 14 years to UT and his defenses consistently ranked as the SEC's best. His salary was $340K when fired by Hamilton. Funny how all the Vols SEC opponents value Chavis much more than Hamilton & UT. Now we're supposed to believe Wilcox deserves $640K. I don't think so! Go Chief! Go Tigers Defense! Chavis deserved far better from UT.

537081 writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

We are so thankful to have John's blessing of this new DC...aren't we gang? Because without it we feel so empty inside...

yes empty is a good word. Ihope John will write a letter next year saying how wrong he was. YEA RIGHT!!!!!!!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to idiocracy:

John Chavis dedicated 14 years to UT and his defenses consistently ranked as the SEC's best. His salary was $340K when fired by Hamilton. Funny how all the Vols SEC opponents value Chavis much more than Hamilton & UT. Now we're supposed to believe Wilcox deserves $640K. I don't think so! Go Chief! Go Tigers Defense! Chavis deserved far better from UT.

Chavis was paid in line with most big-school DCs at the time. Considering that he hardly ever left campus to recruit, he both made more money and had more time at home than most DCs. I valued Chavis except for "3d-and...[you know]", but there was no way Chavis was going to be retained when ex-CLK was hired, since he was bringing his own DC, as MOST coaches do. Another way to look at Wilcox's salary is that it is about half what we paid Monte.

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