While most have acknowledged Coach Walker’s ability to stop the run-of-the-mill 2 back, 2 tight ends types of offenses, a lot has been said about Coach Walker’s supposed inability to stop the spread.The truth is Walker’s turnaround on defense has been done in spite of a lack of talent. Bruce Feldman, in an article where he named DeWayne Walker the 6th most intriguing assistant in college football, had this to say about Walker and the talent that he works with:
One of the most respected scheme guys in the country, Walker did wonders for a UCLA defense that had been awful till he got there. One coach I spoke with said it’s amazing what he does, given how “very average” the talent that he has to work with. The downside is it may be hard for some administrators to hire a guy who just came off a floundering program (see Jon Tenuta).
The truth is, that anyone that knows ANYTHING about the spread understands that you need depth and talent at all levels to handle the spread. That’s why its currently the the rage in college football. If you can’t pressure with 4 and cover with 7, if your linebackers lack coverage ability, and if your corners can’t handle being out on an island, any good spread will find the weakness and exploit it.Walker came into UCLA with the ability to scheme the spread, but hasn’t had the talent to fully stop it. He has however stopped many spread offenses. In 2006, Utah, Rice, Cal, and Arizona all ran spreads or had elements of the spread. In 2007, UCLA actually did a pretty good job against Utah until the floodgates were opened in the 4th quarter. The same thing happened at WSU. That brings up an important point in itself. Hey folks, when you’re offense is as pathetic as UCLA’s and the defense has to go out over and over again after a 3 and out, the defense is going to A) get tired and B) lose morale, especially if the game is already in hand. Anyone who ignores this just ain’t telling the whole truth. Finishing with 2007, UCLA did stop Oregon’s (though without Dennis Dixon) and Cal’s spreads. Arizona was also, in my opinion, a glaring example of a talent issue, not a scheme issue.Also, we can’t bring up the talent issues without mentioning recruiting. As stated before, Walker is a fantastic recruiter and has recruited the defensive side of the ball to take care of these problems in the near future.Akeem Ayers, Courtney Viney, Donovan Carter, Patrick Larimore, Uona Kaveinga, Steve Sloan, Rahim Moore, Anthony Dye, Aaron Hester, E.J. Woods, possibly Robert Golden. Brian Price. Folks, those are ELITE talents that Walker will use to stop the spread. Once he has all the bases covered, UCLA’ll be known as a spread-stopping machine. I guarantee it. Again, we have to remember the following points. 1) Walker is dealing with a lack of talent, in general, and does not have the talent to stop good spread offenses. Apparently, neither does the rest of the country.2) Walker has still done a great job stopping conventional offenses.3) Walker has shown the ability to recruit the talent UCLA needs to stop the spread and will stop the spread once all the pieces are place. It’s as simple as that.