USC head coach Steve Spurrier announced in Orlando Tuesday afternoon current defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward will assume all the duties of running the defense from departed assistant head coach for defense Ellis Johnson.
“We don’t have an interim defensive coordinator any more, we have a full-time (coordinator),” said Coach Spurrier. “Lorenzo Ward is our defensive coordinator here at South Carolina. He’s the best guy I could hire. That’s why I’ve hired him. He knows what we want to do. He and I think almost exactly alike defensively. We’ve talked a lot of defense over the last two or three years and he knows how to coach it and we agree on how to coach it. So he’s going to be our guy, hopefully for several years, and he’s certainly the full-time guy as we go through the bowl game and next year and so forth. I felt like I was going to do it anyway, and I felt like we needed to do it right now.”
AUDIO: Lorenzo Ward discusses his new role running USC’s defense
AUDIO: Steve Spurrier talks to media after arriving in Orlando
Ward already had the title of defensive coordinator, but it was Johnson who handled the coordinating of the defense.
“It’s a blessing that Coach Spurrier feels the way he does about me and I’m excited about it,” said Ward. “Coach Spurrier announced it to the team just a few seconds ago and they were excited, so it made me feel good that the players wanted me to have this title. I never really went to (Coach Spurrier). We visited and he came to me and said if Ellis (Johnson) isn’t at practice, you need to control the practice, and it went from there. I spent seven years in the 4-2-5 defense at Virginia Tech, so the defense will stay very similar to what it is. I feel confidence in my ability to coach. We’ve had good practices and the guys really responded to me, so I feel good about it. I’m excited to have the opportunity.”
Ward has been coaching safeties this season and has also coached cornerbacks at USC. He will direct the defense from the pressbox in next week’s bowl game.
Spurrier still has to hire a linebackers coach and a running backs coach.