Why Louisville DBs, coaches are gravitating to new co-DC Wesley 'Crime Dawg' McGriff

·3 min read

In the seven months since Wesley McGriff became the secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator at Louisville, he’s made an impact.

McGriff came to the Cardinals after spending the past five seasons in the SEC at Mississippi, Auburn and, most recently, Florida. At each stop, McGriff had a level of success by either helping to produce one of the top defenses in the nation or sending players like Noah Igbinoghene (Auburn) and Breeland Speaks (Mississippi) to the NFL.

Having also coached in the NFL as the New Orleans Saints’ defensive backs coach (2013-15), he adds a level of professional experience that benefits the Cardinals’ secondary.

“He brings energy to the meeting room every day,” Louisville safety Josh Minkins said. “Having him around just makes it better for us because he knows what he's doing, and he always tries to make us be like a pro. He's big on teaching us that, so having him around is tremendous for us.”

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McGriff, a former Savannah State linebacker, became the safeties coach after Greg Gasparato became the outside linebackers coach, a position left vacant by Cort Dennison.

In 2021, the Cardinals ranked 82nd in pass efficiency defense with a 138.01, giving up 245.6 yards through the air per game and allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete a combined 65.3% of their passes.

This season, McGriff has essentially a new defensive backs room to work with. Only a handful of safeties returned for the Cardinals, including Minkins, who provided the team with 17 tackles and one interception as a sophomore last year. The Cardinals signed three safeties from the 2022 recruiting class in Jeremiah Caldwell, D’Angelo Hutchinson and Antonio Watts, while also bringing in M.J. Griffin and Nicario Harper through the transfer portal from Temple and Southern Mississippi, respectively.

So far, the new coach has made a smooth transition with the Cardinals and won over his players, both newcomers and returners.

Louisville's Josh Minkins made this end zone interception in the fourth quarter against Boston College. Louisville won and now 4-3 and breaks a two-game losing streak. Oct. 23, 2021
Louisville's Josh Minkins made this end zone interception in the fourth quarter against Boston College. Louisville won and now 4-3 and breaks a two-game losing streak. Oct. 23, 2021

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“You're going to fail some time, but he's going to make sure that you don't fail if you take the right corrections,” Griffin said. “That's the type of coach he is. He wants you to succeed. He wants you to be great, and he's not going to want you to be short of any of that.”

U of L defensive coordinator Bryan Brown is quick to point out that not only has McGriff had an impact on the players, but the coaches as well. The two have worked together as coordinators who also coach the secondary. Despite being new to the Cardinals’ program, his 31 years of coaching experience makes him someone that can hold other coaches accountable.

“He's came in and fit perfectly for what we actually need and holding guys accountable, being very disciplined, helping us be more a little bit more disciplined,” Bryan said of McGriff. “He's already helped me from a playcaller standpoint of, 'Hey, think about this in this situation,' or, 'Hey, think about that,' or 'I think you need you got to continue to do this in this situation, so keep doing what you're doing with this.' He's done a tremendous job in helping me and the staff. It's awesome. We're lucky to have old 'Crime Dawg' with us.”

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville football: Wesley McGriff's impact as DB coach, co-DC