Every Monday, The SEC Blog will feature an assistant coach in the SEC. This week, we take a look at South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward.
Lorenzo Ward has actually held the title of defensive coordinator at South Carolina since 2009, but he's still considered one of the new coordinators in the SEC in 2012.
Ellis Johnson held the lofty title of assistant coach in charge of defense, before taking the head job at Southern Miss this offseason. With Johnson gone, it's Ward's job to take control of a South Carolina defense that has established itself as one of the SEC's best.
He certainly has the pedigree and the personnel to step in seamlessly for the Gamecocks.
During his first three years on staff, he focused on the secondary, which was a strong point for the stingy Gamecock defense. In 2009, South Carolina finished second in the SEC in passing defense, after giving up 163 yards per game through the air. Last season, the Gamecocks again finished second in the conference in passing defense at 131.7 yards per game.
While he wasn't in charge of the defense, he was still a big part of a Gamecock defense that has finished in the top 15 nationally in total defense in two of the last three years (2009 and 2011).
When head coach Steve Spurrier elevated him to the spot formerly occupied by Johnson following the 2011 season, it came as no surprise. He brings a level of continuity to the 4-2-5 defense that Johnson was so successful with in Columbia.
There isn't much "learning on the job" going on this offseason for Ward because he's been an integral part of the defensive game-planning for three years.
Plus, there's plenty of talent on the South Carolina roster still there for Ward.
Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor are two of the best pass-rushers in the country, and having a consistent pass rush can make the rest of the defense click. DeVonte Holloman will step down to the SPUR position and safety D.J. Swearinger is one of the SEC's top safeties.
He may not have the notoriety that new SEC coordinators Brian VanGorder and Paul Petrino bring to the conference, but the elevation of Ward to a true defensive coordinator role might prove to be the best hire of the offseason.