South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward was recently named, well, defensive coordinator. After serving as Ellis Johnson’s understudy each of the past three seasons, Ward now has the keys to the fourth-ranked defense in the country.
South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward
The Gamecocks had their best season in school history, which was capped by a 30-13 throttling of Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. It was the first time that Ward had orchestrated the defense by himself and the first time in his career since 1999 at Tennessee-Chattanooga to take the helm.
Recently, some key members of the coaching world spoke with TheBigSpur.com about the qualities that Ward will bring to the table as the defensive coordinator at South Carolina. Here are a few more notes and quotes from the conversations.
Ward on the recruiting trail… “He can talk to any guy and get to know them. That’s recruiting. Recruiting is building relationships. I think he does a good job of building relationships with people. I think he takes the time to build relationships with players and high school coaches. I don’t know if he thinks his first year he recruited was as good as he’d liked for it to be but each year, it’s gotten better and better. It goes to show that those relationships that he’s built are paying off.” - Virginia Tech assistant coach Shane Beamer
Is Ward ready for this opportunity… “Being around Ellis, being around Bud Foster – everything there is positive, in my opinion. He’s learned from some good guys and he’s ready for this next step.” - Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer
What do you remember form Ward’s playing days? … “He was a very talented player, in my opinion, who just didn’t play much while he was in college. I felt like he was a whole lot better player. If I would have had him two or three years, I think he would have been an outstanding player.” - former Alabama head coach Gene Stallings
Why are you and Spurrier similar in your ideas on defense? … “We keep it simple, really. If you have good players, you need to keep it simple for them. What we try to do, we’re going to do it well.” - South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward
The importance of staff continuity and continuing the same scheme … “Anytime you can continue on in the same defense, and I’m sure Whammy will make some adjustments, but they played good defense. The carry-over is always a plus. Whenever there is a major change, there is an adjustment to change. I think they can continue on in the direction Ellis had them going.” - Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer
Announcing Ward prior to the bowl … “We need our guys coming back next year to look at coach Ward and coach Lawing and say, ‘These are my coaches and they’re going to be here next year, too.’ I felt like this is the time to go ahead and do it.” - South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier
Was Ward being groomed by Johnson to be a defensive coordinator? … “Ellis was very much in charge. There’s no doubt the plan each week was Ellis’s. He relied on coach Ward quite a bit when I was there. Ellis was open to suggestions, whether it came from myself, Brad, or Whammy, but when it came to pass defense, Ellis relied a good bit on coach Ward.” - Virginia Tech assistant coach Shane Beamer
Is Ward ready? … “Ellis did a great job at South Carolina, I’m very fond of Steve Spurrier, and I know that Whammy will do an excellent job.” - former Alabama head coach Gene Stallings
Any pressure heading into the bowl? … “I think anytime in the coaching profession, you want to win. Any time you lead a group, you try to put them in the best position to be successful. That’s what we’ll do. I don’t think it’s any other than normal pressure.” - South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward
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