Originally posted on SeaTown Sports  |  Last updated 1/18/12

Husky fans will have to get over the fact that both Justin Wilcox (pictured above) and Peter Sirmon played for the Oregon Ducks.


To get an insider's perspective on the Huskies' new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon, SeaTown Sports asked Derek Lusk of Checkerboard Chatter some questions about UW's new hires. Checkerboard Chatter is the University of Tennessee blog on the Bloguin network.

See what he has to say about Wilcox and Sirmon after the jump!

SeaTown Sports: What's your general opinion on these coaches? 

DEREK LUSK: Justin Wilcox and Peter Sirmon are two of the brightest young stars in college football, especially on the defensive side of the ball.  Wilcox did a fabulous job at Boise State so the Tennessee fan base was really excited to bring him into the fold when Derek Dooley hired him soon after accepting the head coaching job.  Peter Sirmon was a familiar name to many in the Volunteer State due to his time in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans.  He turned out to be a great hire.  He is an outstanding recruiter who has a great reputation for being able to relate really well to the young men.  The Huskies got themselves a couple of good ones when they hired these two. 

SS: What were their biggest strengths in their tenures at Tennessee? 

DL: Both brought great things to the table.  Wilcox had a huge impact with the production on the field.  In his first year (2010) the roster was thin and the morale was low due to all the drama surrounding the ouster of legendary coach Phil Fulmer and the abrupt departure of Lane Kiffin.  His unit was ranked 69th in Total Defense that year and 10th in the SEC.  In 2011 the defense showed dramatic improvement jumping all the way to 27th in Total Defense and boasting the 12th best Pass Defense in the country.  There is little doubt in my mind that Justin Wilcox had the D on the right track. 

Sirmon's biggest strength was in his recruiting.  It seems like almost every commitment that Tennessee has received in the 2012 class gives the praise for having chosen the Vols to Peter Sirmon.  I think the fact that he played at such a high level is very appealing to kids who have similar aspirations.  He is a tireless recruiter and will do well for Washington in that department.  I have little doubt that UW's Pac-12 opponents will be frustrated by the recruiting battles that Peter Sirmon wins. 

SS: Were their any consistent deficiencies in the Tennessee defense that these coaches struggled to improve? 

DL: If there was one thing that Tennessee has really struggled with over the last two years defensively it has probably been defending the deep ball.  In the SEC you have to commit so many people to stopping the great running games from Bama, LSU, Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina...the list goes on and on.  Because of that you have to have corners who can play man to man at times. 

Frankly, Tennessee just has not had the top notch talent in that department and the talent they do have is extremely young.  The result has been some really big games by some of the better receivers in the league over the last two seasons.   

SS: What kind of schemes did Wilcox run? 

DL: He runs a 4 man front but likes to play 5 defensive backs when he has the players.  He likes to use that nickel back as a bit of a rover to help in the run game and move around a lot to try to confuse opposing quarterbacks.  He'll blitz more on the outside than he will in the middle.  I would guess that in the Pac-12 he will value speed more than strength and really try to keep his best athletes in the defensive backfield to slow down the super athletic offenses of Oregon and USC. 

SS: How well do both of these coaches connect with their players? 

DL: That seems to be a strength of both guys but specifically Sirmon.  I'm telling you the players just loved that guy.  Derek Dooley (much like his mentor Nick Saban) rarely allows his assistant coaches to speak with the media so in some ways I don't think the fans ever really felt like they connected with Justin Wilcox.  That may have been Dooley's fault more than his though.  The players and fans will be pleased with the defensive product these guys put out on the field.


--Kevin Cacabelos (@seatownsports) 

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