It was reported yesterday by multiple sources that former USC defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox will be named for the same position at Wisconsin.

As a Sconnie native, but a student at USC, I’d like to share some Wilcox knowledge with you Badger fans.

As I sat in the student section at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during the third quarter of USC’s third home game, vs. Stanford, the Trojans defense looked useless and decrepit, en route to a Stanford 41-31 victory.

During this third quarter, fellow students around me started erupting in cheers of “Fire Wilcox, Fire Wilcox.” It was more than just a “our team is getting mobbed by Christian McCaffrey and we are mad” type of cheer; rather it seemed more perpetual than that. After a couple of questions about who exactly Wilcox was and why people were demanding his exit, it became clear to me that Justin Wilcox and USC did not mesh.

In 2015, Wilcox’s defense was mainly known for being on and off. In some games, the defense was the heart of the performance and especially focused on turnovers. In a season-changing home victory against then-number-3 ranked Utah, freshman Cameron Smith had three interceptions which was the single turning point in allowing USC to pull off that upset. In that game as well, the defense allowed Devontae Booker and Travis Wilson to only 99 yards of rushing and only 254 yards passing.

The clincher has to be the UCLA game, where two interceptions, including a key one from Iman Marshall, as well as a returned fumble for a touchdown, set up the defense perfectly for success. Holding UCLA to under 5 yards per rush and just over 6 yards per pass also helped set up the Victory Bell win well.

However, Wilcox struggled to win in big games, such as a late-season game at Oregon and the Pac-12 Championship against Stanford. It is these types of performances, coupled with the new head-coaching change in Clay Helton, that led Wilcox to his demise. Overall, USC finished 65th in the nation in total defense, allowed an average of 400.8 yards per game, and allowed 25.7 points per game, which was 50th nationally.

As alluded to, the Trojans ranked 46th and 50th nationally in scoring defense over his two years, respectively. The year before Wilcox was hired, the Trojans finished 16th in that category, and were looking to improve with the Wilcox hire.

At Wisconsin, Wilcox is prepared to pick up where Dave Aranda left off. He runs a primarily 3-4 defense, although he uses multiple fronts. He brings NFL experience to the program, adding a new dimension of coordinator to the team.

Most importantly, he brings slight uncertainty. Although the Badgers obviously need a coordinator to replace Aranda, when you have the number 1 defense in the country it becomes ever so difficult to improve the team that theoretically needs the least amount of improvement.


Photo: Paul Rodriguez / Orange County Register