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Defensive (DWalk) Hype

DeWayne Walker is already getting a lot of hype as a defensive wizard this spring. ESPN's Ted Miller, who cover the Pac-10 beat has a glowing writeup on the Bruin DC:

UCLA's Bruce Davis carried an agenda inside his head when he first met with then-new defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker a year ago. He wanted to use his initial interview to express his feelings and explain his vision to Walker.

Davis, then a junior, wanted to use this important interview to tell Walker he was a linebacker, not a defensive end.

Walker listened. He likes interviews. He picked up his favorite catch phrase -- "Every day is an interview" -- from Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

A week later, Walker and Davis had another interview. This time, it was Walker's turn for self-expression.

"Coach Walker laid down the law," Davis recalled. "He said, 'I don't care what you want to play. This is what you're going to play. Just go do it.' He told me how he wanted it and how it was going to be. It was kind of intimidating at the time but I'm glad he did it. It's made me and everybody else better."

"Better" doesn't do what happened justice.

The complete transformation of UCLA's defense in one year under Walker was stunning. What once was soft became sound. The men in powder blue started delivering a pastel pounding.

The next-to-worst run defense in the country (233 yards per game, 5.4 yards per carry in 2005), became the nation's ninth-best unit in 2006 (91.1, 2.8). Where teams hung 34.2 points per game on the 2005 Bruins, they managed just 19.9 in 2006.
Pardon me if I don't get all swept away in DeWayne Walker's defensive wizardry. Sure I will give him credit for the defensive improvement. There is no doubt his pro-set defense produced tangible results against teams (such as Notre Dame and Southern Cal) that ran pro style offense. However, Walker didn't have any answers against teams like Oregon, Washington State, Cal, and FSU, which run college style spread offense. In fact in those games Bruins gave up 445.5 yards a game, which was well above their season average of 314.5 yards a game. [Source D1 Team Stats]. Moreover in those games Bruins gave up 37.25 points a game, higher than the disgraceful season average of 2005, which Miller pointed to as a reference point for so called defensive improvement.

So Walker improved a woeful defense (which had nowhere to go but up) to somewhat respectable, but still found himself totally outcoached (after which he placed the blame on his players) against teams that came at him with wide open spread offenses. You can see why I am not drinking the koolaid.

Color me unimpressed. And I am not going to buy into any of this hype until these so called improvements on our defense results in a Pac-10 championship this season.