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Tracy Claeys brings a lot of experience to WSU

Defensive coordinator has an impressive resume

NCAA FOOTBALL: DEC 27 Holiday Bowl - Minnesota v Washington State Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This week Mike Leach announced the hiring of Tracy Claeys to replace outgoing defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. Before he took last year off after being released as Minnesota’s head coach, Claeys was a defensive coordinator for 16 years straight for a variety of programs. He basically followed Jerry Kill from stop to stop, building a very impressive resume.

After serving as Kill’s defensive line coach at Saginaw Valley State Claeys was promoted to defensive coordinator after Kill got the head job at Emporia State. Claeys defense’s really started to take off once they got to Southern Illinois. His defense led the nation in scoring defense in 2004 and ranked 10th in 2007 while intercepting 21 passes.

In his next stop at Northern Illinois his defense dominated the MAC with his defense being the best in the conference his entire tenure there. His pass defense in particular ranked consistently high nationally. More success came in Minnesota where Claeys was nominated for the Frank Broyles award (top assistant) twice before being promoted to head coach where he took the Gophers to two bowl games.

It’s really an impeccable on the field resume and seems like a home run hire for Mike Leach. Claeys has traditionally run a 4-3 scheme generally described as where lineman get upfield and there is discipline in the back seven, which sounds more Bill Doba than Alex Grinch. Considering the returning talent on WSU’s defense though he may have to switch to a 3-3-5 that we saw under the Grinch. There isn’t a lot on the interior on the defensive line, unless some more junior college products are imported during the late signing period. However it shakes out, expect a well-coached defense with some excellent secondary play in particular in looking back at Claeys past.


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