2006 Defensive Staff

A little over a week ago the University of Idaho issued a press release announcing that new head coach Dennis Erickson would retain the existing defensive coaching staff, including elevating Assistant Head Coach JEFF MILLS to Defensive Coordinator for the upcoming season. Inside is a closer look at the Vandals' 2006 defensive coaching staff.

The young coaching staff assembled by former head coach Nick Holt spent the last two years rebuilding a depleted depth chart and teaching the team to play at a higher level of competition. Although Holt left The University of Idaho for a shot at the NFL (then changed his plans less than 24 hours later to accept an offer from Pete Carroll at USC as the Trojans' Defensive Coordinator), incoming veteran head coach Dennis Erickson has chosen to retain Holt's entire defensive staff. The move helps insure continuity within Idaho's defensive ranks and builds on the reconstruction effort started in '04, when Idaho fielded an NCAA leading 17 true freshmen, many of them at the time on the defensive side of the ball.

The only change of note is Erickson's elevation of former Assistant Head Coach Jeff Mills to Defensive Coordinator (Mills will also retain his duties as Idaho's safeties coach). Otherwise, the staff has been left intact.

Below is a re-introduction of the defensive staff, along with links to their Scout biographies.

Grad assistants are expected to be named at a later date.



Jeff Mills
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR / SAFETIES

Of the entire Vandal defensive staff, Mills is the most senior of the unit. He started as a grad assistant with Washington in 1990 then moved to Montana State where he coached the secondary in 1994. From 1995-99 he worked at Idaho, starting as a secondary coach and finishing as Idaho's defensive coordinator for three years. He moved to Nevada from 2000-03 where he spent the last three years as the Wolfpack's defensive coordinator. In '04 he returned to Idaho with Nick Holt and was the assistant head coach while also coaching the secondary. His retention as Idaho's defensive coordinator insures continuity as Idaho embarks on the '06 schedule.


Alundis Brice
CORNERBACKS

An All-SEC selection at cornerback in 1994 at Ol' Miss, Brice was a third round draft choice by the Dallas Cowboys and was an active member of the Cowboy cornerback rotation that helped Dallas win the 1995 Super Bowl. He began his coaching career in 2003 at Mississippi as a grad assistant, then joined Nick's staff in 2004 at Idaho as cornerbacks coach. Idaho's statistical improvement (interceptions and pass breakups) has steadily increased since Brice and Mills took over the Vandal defensive backfield.


Johnny Nansen
LINEBACKERS

A standout linebacker for the Washington State Cougars in the mid-90s (earned PAC-10 player of the week honors as a junior), Nansen began his career as a grad assistant at Louisville in 1999. He moved to Montana State for a year (2000), then began coaching defensive backs at Idaho State from 2001-03. Since joining the Vandal staff in '04 he's helped make the linebacker unit the heart-and-soul of the Vandal defense, highlighted this past season by the performance of First Team All-WAC middle linebacker Cole Snyder.


James Cregg
DEFENSIVE LINE

A defensive linemen for Colorado State, Cregg joined the CSU staff in '97 as a grad assistant where he stayed for 3 years. From 2000-03 Cregg coached the defensive line for Colgate of the Patriot League, helping lead the Raiders to a 15-1 record, their only loss coming in the Division 1-AA Championship game. He was with Nick Holt's first staff at Idaho in 2004 and has spent the last two seasons rebuilding a defensive line depth chart that lacked size and depth before his arrival. In '06 Idaho should field its deepest DL in years across the 4-man front.



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