Q&A with Dorrell/Walker

Head Coach Karl Dorrell and newly-named Defensive Coordinator DeWayne Walker answered questions from the media today in a teleconference call and, among other things, talked about the style of defense they both want to play...

Head Coach Karl Dorrell's initial comments:

"Today we finalized our deal with DeWayne Walker. I'm really exciteda bout him leading our defense. He's going to be bring a great attitude and great experience to our defensive side of the ball. He's been well-trained, with extensive college and pro experience. He's been around and worked with some of the top coaches in the NFL. All the research I had to take away from former employers and colleagues indicated he was just top notch, and ready to get it done here at UCLA. He's an up-and-coming coach, and he's going to enjoy the challenge. He's excited and we're excited about him improving our defense."

What type of defense do you think he'll employ?

‘It will be similar to the foundation that is already here. He may call it different things, but the players already run a similar system. I think it's the way he'll coach it, his approach, and his fundamentals will make for a striking difference you'll be able to see. He's sharp, intelligent and understands technique. He'll lead a well-disciplined defense and he'll give us the thing that are important to improving our defense."

Will he be replacing the defensive staff?

"We're going to re-evaluate everyone that's here. We have some guys here that have some secondary and linebacker experience. They're very flexible in what they can do. We will build a very dynamic staff, one that will improve our defense to achieve its capability."

Is coach Walker in town? And what's his first objective when he arrives?

"He'll come out here soon and we'll be ready to re-evaluate all aspects of the defense and the staff. It's important get the right guys to lead this defense."

Has the lack of a defensive coordinator affected recruiting?

"It hasn't affected recruiting. I talked to recruits about where we're going as a defense. They realized why we recruited them, because of the type of impact players they are and the impact they can make. Now they're ready to move forward and play the type of defense we want to play. When I've spoken to them, they've been excited about the change, and with the announcement today, they'll see the type of things we've been talking about."

Did you interview more than people than just coach Walker for the defensive coordinator position?

"I did interview a couple of other guys. And one guy who had a tremendous amount of experience, who is a very accomplished coach on the college level. There were a good deal of people who were very receptive to coming here to UCLA. But there was a blueprint I was looking for. It was NFL experience, and the ability to make an impact when you come in and impose himself on the program. That's why I had my eye on DeWayne."

Does it help in recruiting if your defensive coordinator has NFL experience?

"It's helpful. It's definteily helpful when you have NFL guys. Most college players want to play on that level, and it's good to have coaches to express what it takes to get to that level."

Was he the first guy you identified you wanted for the position?

"He was a guy that I targeted early in the process. I was intrigued by what he's been able to do with number of coaches he's been with. I went through a number of checks, pro and college checks. And everything checked out with him as a great coach who just needed a great opportunity."

Did you talk to Pete Carroll about Walker?

"No (Laughs). I have not. I know he has some background with Pete, and has coached with him. His experience with good coaches, that's what I likde about him. You know, Pete is very good coach, and DeWayne has been with very good defensive coaches – Bill Bellichick, Greg Williams...all with great reputations as being very good defensive coaches. He has a tremendous background."

Does it concern you that he hasn't been a coordinator in a while?

"No, it really doesn't. I just remember when I was an assistant in the NFL you learn so many things so fast. So many coaches in the NFL – or in college – are ready to be coordinators. So this is a plus-plus for DeWayne. I think he'll be very ready for the task, being very organized, and having been around great people."

Did his NFL experience separate him from the college candidates?

"Yes, it did. I needed someone who had some energy and ideas to take the defense and tweak it, to do something innovative to give ourselves an advantage."

Even though all contracts of assistant coaches are for one year, is there an agreement for a longer contract?

It's one-year, but our administration is receptive to talking about what we can do. I'm very pleased with how the university has stepped up to help me get a top-notch guy."

Could you have gotten him if the university didn't step up?

"No. this is a market place where you get what you pay for. I was fortunate enough to get a guy of his caliber and expertise. But I knew I needed someone like him to do what's best to build our defense."

When will he be in town?

"He'll be in town tomorrow." Will he meet with players then?

‘He may meet with players tomorrow. We still have to go through analyzing our staff and putting together a great defensive staff."

Will winter practice go off as scheduled, on February 21st?

‘It should go true to form. We'll get some people in place and everyone probably done by thsi week, and that will give us a few weeks before practice starts. Then it will be time to go, baby."

New Defensive Coordinator DeWayne Walker's initial comments:

"I'm happy to be joining Karl Dorrell and his staff and coming home to Los Angeles and UCLA. UCLA football has a lot of tradition and I'm looking forward to adding to it. We have some big challenges ahead and that makes it very attractive. I'm looking forward to getting to work."

Why did you decide to make the move to college?

"This is where it started. College football was an opportunity for me, to get into coaching. Bill Fisk (at Mt. Sac) and Karl Dorrell are the two that gave me an opportunity to be a defensive coordinator. Being a defensive coordinator, this is my time to bring together the work and experience I've had with other coaches."

How familiar are you with UCLA's defense?

"Being in the NFL you still dib and dab into college football, watching some games here and there and always touching base with your friends. I have a little familiarity with what's going on at UCLA. It's something Coach Dorrell and I will talk about in depth at a later date."

Did you talk to Pete Carroll before taking the job?

"I really didn't talk about it with him, whether I should take the coordinator job or not. I did talk to him yesterday and it appeared he was happy for me."

Did he comment at all about UCLA's defense?

"No, not really. We didn't really talk about it at that level. Even if we did, it wouldn't have made a lot of diference to me, to be honest. There are reasons I'm being hired. And I can put together a staff that can fix some things that need to be fixed."

Was it a difficult decision to make?

When this was presented to me at first, it took me some time to think this thing through. I had to think about if this was the right thing for me and my family. I think it's a great opportunity, to take all the years and experience of working with Pete, Bellichick, Greg Williams, Joe Gibbs, Steve Mariucci and others. It's time for me to see where I am from a leadership standpoint and put myself in line with some of these coaches I've worked with."

Did the Redskins try to entice you to stay in Washington?

"Coach Gibbs and Greg Williams said the extension was there, if you decided to take it or not. They trusted me to make a decision, and I did what I thought was best for my family and me."

What kind of defense will you run?

"The defensive coordinators I've coached with, and the defense I'm used to, are defenses of attack. They're defenses to create opportunities, high enery. Bill, Pete and Greg Williams, and myself, we all think you have to take away the football. I'll be personally responsible for making that happen myself. I was responsible for it in Washington. Taking away the football is a high priority in giving our offense, and our defense, a chance to score a touchdown."

Do you have ideas about how you want to fill out your staff?

"That's something Karl and I will continue to work out. I know one thing: we're going to make this a high-energy, opportunistic defense."

Will you coach the defensive backs?

"That's a good question. The secondary is going to be my baby. I definitely want to bring some things I've learned in the NFL. So I will have my hand in it for sure."

Do you see yourself having a defensive coaching title, like defensive backs coach?

"Karl and I are still trying to figure out what direction to take. But I definitely want to have a hand in that."

In your interviews with Coach Dorrell, what impressed you about him?

"I've known Karl since he was a player. I knew him when he coached in Denver, and Washington. We've crossed paths. You might not know this, but Pete (Carroll) interviewed him in New England. I think he's professional. We have the same type of demeanor. We look at things similarly. In a working relationship, I feel really comfortable with him. He's given me the opportunity to fulfill some of my goals. I trust him. I really do. I trust him. I'm honored he feels that I can help get this UCLA program going."

Have you watched tape of UCLA's defense?

"I probably need to do more work doing that. I watched enough to get a general feel of what I'm working with. Once we put a defensive staff together we'll break it down and see where we are strong and where we're not. So I have a general idea. I'd rather just keep it at that. Like I mentioned, we have a lot of work to do and that's the reason why Karl has given me this opportunity."

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