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Ranking the Pac-12 Defensive Coordinators for 2022

Morgan Scalley leads a ferocious Utah defense on their quest for another Pac-12 Title in 2022

Photo by Boyd Ivey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Article by WestCoastCFB

1. Morgan Scalley (Utah)

Morgan Scalley is a Utah Ute through and through. The Salt Lake City native played for the Utes from 2001-2004 as a defensive back before joining the Utah coaching staff in 2007. In 2016, Scalley earned the title of Defensive Coordinator and has since produced one of the most consistent and tough defenses in the country year after year. In six seasons as DC, Utah has ranked in the top 40 nationally in points allowed per game five times.

2. Alex Grinch (USC)

At 41 years old, Alex Grinch is one of the rising stars in the coaching profession after coordinating the WSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma defenses since 2015. When hired by Oklahoma, Grinch was tasked with improving the 101st ranked defense in the country in points allowed per game. His first season, the Sooners improved to 64th nationally before jumping to 21st in 2020 and 60th in 2021.

3. Tosh Lupoi (Oregon)

Tosh Lupoi is known as one of the top recruiters in the country and with his addition to the Oregon staff, you can guarantee a strong flow of talent will continue to head to Eugene. Some will raise red flags on the hire from a play calling perspective but Dan Lanning will likely have strong input on play calls throughout the game which would mitigate that aspect.

4. William Inge (UW)

Inge doesn't have a big name yet but he did a stellar job with the Fresno State defense over the past two seasons. The Missouri native employs a 4-2-5 scheme that often wreaks havoc in the backfield. In 2021, Fresno State racked up 91 tackles for loss, 32 sacks and forced 24 turnovers. That defense finished 20th nationally in points per game and now Inge will get a chance to prove himself at the P5 level.

5. Peter Sirmon (Cal)

Cal tapped Peter Sirmon as Tim DeRuyter's replacement in 2021 after DeRuyter announced he was heading to Eugene. That move paid off with Cal maintaining a strong defense that finished 32nd nationally in points allowed per game. With Justin Wilcox leading the Golden Bears, it's safe to say the defense will always be strong with his influence but Sirmon does bring good value in both recruiting and X's and O's.

6. Lance Anderson (Stanford)

Lance Anderson was once seen as one of the top coordinators in the Pac-12 during the early years of his tenure. The past few years have not been nearly as kind. His past three defenses have ranked 80th, 78th and 106th nationally in points allowed per game. Can he turn the Cardinal defense around before it's too late? 2022 might be his last chance.

7. Bill McGovern (UCLA)

The defense at UCLA has held back the program during the Chip Kelly era. A change at coordinator was much needed but the hire of McGovern does still leave some question marks. The last time that McGovern was a coordinator was from 2009-2012 at Boston College. Those defenses finished 19th, 19th, 43rd and 76th nationally in points allowed per game.

8. Chris Wilson (Colorado)

Chris Wilson is well known for his work in coaching the defensive line and his recruiting ability. Prior to working for the Buffs, Wilson spent time at USC, Georgia, and Oklahoma among other programs. In 2011 and 2012, Wilson was the defensive coordinator for Mississippi State and those defenses finished 16th and 34th nationally in points allowed per game. Despite the relative success, Wilson was supplanted as defensive coordinator by Geoff Collins which prompted Wilson to leave for Georgia to be their linebackers coach. Now, Wilson gets another chance to lead a defense after Karl Dorrell made him coordinator in 2021.

9. Brian Ward (WSU)

With Jake Dickert's promotion to head coach, WSU needed to fill the coordinator role and decided to make a hire from the Mountain West ranks. Ward has been a DC for Bowling Green, Syracuse and Nevada the past 7 years with mixed results. At Syracuse, his defenses finished 120th, 99th, 65th and 89th in points allowed per game. His tenure at Nevada found more success with defenses that finished 33rd and 69th nationally. Regardless, expect the WSU defense to be strong with Dickert leading the program.

10. Trent Bray (OSU)

Oregon State is a very home grown program right now with former players at head coach and defensive coordinator. This ranking may seem low but it's not an indictment of Bray but rather just that there isn't much sample size since he didn't take over as coordinator until the end of the season when Tim Tibesar was fired. In 4 games as DC, Bray allowed 21.5 points per game.

11. Johnny Nansen (Arizona)

Jedd Fisch appears to be going all in on recruiting. Nansen was selected to lead the defense after Don Brown left to become head coach of UMass despite no prior coordinating experience. What Nansen does have is an elite ability to recruit talent. For now, we will put Nansen near the bottom of the list until he can prove his scheme and play calling ability.

12. Donnie Henderson (ASU)

Arizona State is a mess right now. The looming sanctions have resulted in the removal of established coaches while less proven commodities replace them. Henderson is 64 years old and hasn't coached in a substantial role since 2015 when he was the defensive backs coach for the Buffalo Bills. The last time, Henderson coordinated a defense was 2006 for the Detroit Lions. Time will tell if Henderson can keep up with modern offenses or if the game has passed him by.


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