Reports: Jerry Azzinaro, UCLA defensive football coordinator, resigns

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The Bruins have lost their fifth coach and third offseason coordinator.

Jerry Azzinaro has resigned as UCLA’s football defense coordinator after four years in the post, Bruin Report Online and others reported on Wednesday morning. Azzinaro has led the Bruins’ defense since coach Chip Kelly arrived ahead of the 2018 season, and Kelly hasn’t coached without him since 2008.

Azzinaro joined Kelly’s team at Eugene when he became head coach of Oregon, then he followed Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers as the all-defensive line coach. along the way.

After spending a season at Cal while Kelly took a break from training, Azzinaro returned to the fold as UCLA’s defensive coordinator when Kelly took the job at Westwood. Since then, the Bruins have continued to display some of the worst defensive stats in the country, which wasn’t too rare for Azzinaro in his previous stops as defensive coordinator more than a decade earlier.

UCLA has ranked No.104, No.116, No.103 and No.73 in scoring defense in Azzinaro’s four seasons. Even when the Bruins improved to 8-4 in 2021, they did so despite the defense declining from 66th to 79th in the nation in points allowed per practice.

Looking at UCLA’s 12 defensive coordinators since Terry Donahue retired in 1995, Azzinaro allowed the 11th most yards per game, beating only Nick Aliotti, who only led the unit in 1998. Azzinaro is also the oldest of these 12 coordinators. , because he was the only one to go through four seasons in this position. The three worst pass defensive seasons in program history have all been under Azzinaro – 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Whoever replaces Azzinaro will work with a new team, as seven starters have already left the program. Defensive lineman Datona Jackson, linebacker Jordan Genmark Heath, forward Qwuantrezz Knight, cornerback Obi Eboh and cornerback Cameron Johnson are no longer eligible, defensive lineman Otito Ogbonnia and safety Quentin Lake said for the 2022 NFL Draft, on-board rusher Myles Jackson transferred to Indiana, safety DJ Warnell has transferred to Arizona and on-board rusher Mitchell Agude may also declare himself for the draft in the coming days.

Defensive line coach Johnny Nansen left to become Arizona’s defensive coordinator, and outside linebackers coach Jason Kaufusi followed him to Tucson soon after. The duo have previously been replaced by Chad Kauha’aha’ha of UNLV and Ikaika Malloe of Washington, respectively.

The rest of the coaching staff are also in the air, with offensive line coach and offensive coordinator Justin Frye starting for Ohio State and tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Derek Sage. leaving for Nevada earlier this week.

The biggest domino left to fall remains Kelly himself, given he has yet to sign an overtime and is four days away from entering Lame Duck territory in the fifth and half. last year of his initial contract. Kelly’s $ 9 million buyout drops to zero after Saturday, making it a widely accepted deadline for both sides to come to an agreement.

The impact of Azzinaro’s decision on these negotiations is undetermined and could go in several ways. Azzinaro’s job may have been a sticking point in the talks, with UCLA demanding Kelly replace him, or it could be a sign Kelly is about to walk away himself.

All signs and reports have indicated Kelly will remain at UCLA, but everything remains undetermined at this time.

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