ARIZONA FOOTBALL

Arizona football hires Johnny Nansen to replace Don Brown as DC

Dec 1, 2021, 9:57 AM | Updated: 10:00 am
Defensive line coach Johnny Nansen during a college football game between the Hawaii Rainbow Warrio...
Defensive line coach Johnny Nansen during a college football game between the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors against the UCLA Bruins on August 28, 2021, at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Arizona Wildcats announced Wednesday that they hired former UCLA assistant Johnny Nansen to replace Don Brown as the football program’s next defensive coordinator.

Nansen, 47, coached the Bruins’ defensive line for the past two years and has been in the Pac-12 since 2009.

During 2021, UCLA was second in rushing yards allowed per game (124.2) and 26th nationally.

Nansen previously served as the USC Trojans’ defensive run game coordinator and assistant inside linebackers coach in 2019. For the three seasons before that, he was USC’s assistant head coach and also involved in the team’s coordinating efforts.

He also spent time as a running backs coach and special teams coordinator at USC in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Nansen held similar roles with the Washington Huskies from 2009-13.

Nansen played college football at Washington State and graduated in 1997.

Nansen takes over for Brown, who left to become head coach at Massachusetts after one year serving under first-year head coach Jedd Fisch.

The Wildcats’ defense under Brown improved across the board compared to the Kevin Sumlin-led team a season ago. It allowed 31.4 points per game, a dramatic step up from the 39.8 it surrendered each week in 2020.

Against the run, Arizona gave up nearly 90 fewer yards per contest, going from 270.6 to 182.4.

Through the air, opponents gained 2,281 yards on Arizona. Only Washington allowed fewer in the conference.

Nansen made strong connections as a recruiter on the West Coast, with many of his recruits at USC and UCLA coming from California, Oregon, Nevada and Hawaii. He was named Pac-12 Recruiter of the Year by 247 Sports for the 2017 class when he was with USC.

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