February 25, 2024

Chip Kelly didn’t venture far to find his new defensive coordinator, the UCLA coach on Wednesday promoting Ikaika Malloe to fill the void left by the departure of D’Anton Lynn to USC.

Malloe, who served as the acting defensive coordinator during the Bruins’ L.A. Bowl victory over Boise State, had also presided over the best unit on the team in 2023 while coaching the defensive line and outside linebackers.

Edge rusher Laiatu Latu led the nation with 1.8 tackles for loss per game on the way to becoming the first player in school history to win the Lombardi Award, given to the nation’s top lineman. The Bruins finished the season ranked second nationally by giving up only 80.8 rushing yards per game.

It had not been determined whether Malloe would continue to coach the defensive line and outside linebackers, an athletic department spokesperson said. The Bruins still have openings for a quarterbacks coach upon the departure of Ryan Gunderson to become Oregon State’s offensive coordinator and a tight ends coach after Jeff Faris left to become the head coach at Austin Peay.

Malloe, 49, becomes UCLA’s fourth defensive coordinator in as many years, following Jerry Azzinaro, the late Bill McGovern and Lynn. Malloe has previous experience as a defensive coordinator, holding that post from 2009 to 2011 at Yale and as co-defensive coordinator from 2020 to 2021 at Washington.

“Ikaika has a track record of developing NFL talent on the field and outstanding young men off it,” Kelly said in a statement. “I am excited to watch this next step for him and our team.”

Elevating Malloe is a step toward retaining continuity from a defense that led the Pac-12 in rushing defense, tackles for loss (8.1 per game), sacks (3.31 per game) and total defense (301.5 yards per game). The Bruins’ 43 sacks last season were their most since 2012.

The big question facing Malloe is how many significant contributors he’ll have back. Latu sat out the bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft, and twin edge rushers Gabriel and Grayson Murphy, who combined for 13 sacks last season, recently announced their intentions to turn professional. Top defensive lineman Jay Toia has not publicly declared his plans for next season.

The Bruins have also lost several top players to the transfer portal, including cornerback John Humphrey and safeties Kamari Ramsey and William Nimmo Jr. Safeties Marcus Ratcliffe (San Diego State) and Bryan Addison (Oregon) have announced their intentions to transfer to UCLA, though Addison will need to obtain a waiver from the NCAA for a seventh season of eligibility.

Malloe and Latu arrived together in Westwood before the 2022 season after Latu had been forced to medically retire while with Washington because of a neck issue. While with the Huskies, Malloe had helped forge a pass defense that gave up the fewest yards through the air (143.3) nationally in 2021 as well as just six touchdowns.

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