Ault completes restructuring of coaching staff
Veteran coach takes over the defense as part of coaching staff restructuring
The Wolf Pack Coaches Show for November 10, 2011. Guests include Chris Ault, James Ward and Corbin Louks.
James Ward returns to Nevada for his fifth season after nurturing and developing a young Wolf Pack secondary the past four seasons.
The past two years have seen two of Ward's pupils - Doyle Miller and Isaiah Frey - go on the NFL as Miller spent time with two teams in 2011 and Frey was a sixth-round pick by the Chicago Bears in 2012. Frey was a two-time All-Western Athletic Conference selection over the past two seasons.
This year, Ward has a veteran on one side in senior Khalid Wooten, an honors candidate who should contend for All-Mountain West accolades after recording four interceptions in 2011. On the other side, a starter is still to be found, as is the depth for both cornerback positions. Juco transfer Markus Smith should be in the mix, along with sophomore Charles Garrett and redshirt freshman Bryson Keeton, among a host of others.
Over the past two years, Nevada saw the performance of its secondary improve by leaps and bounds. After a 2009 season in which Nevada was ninth in the conference in pass defense, Nevada moved up to fifth in 2010. The Pack also reduced the number of passing touchdowns allowed from 33 TDs in 13 games in 2009 to 15 TDs in 14 games in 2010. In 2011, the Wolf Pack recorded 15 interceptions and allowed just a 48.3 percent completion percentage.
Ward came to Nevada after five seasons as the defensive backs coach at Colorado State, where the Rams' secondary ranked in the upper tier of the Mountain West Conference each season. He will work with Nevada's cornerbacks this season.
At Colorado State, Ward coached all-conference defensive back Dexter Wynn, now with the NFL's Houston Texans, and four other All-MWC players. He helped the Rams to a pair of bowl game appearances - the 2003 San Francisco Bowl and the 2005 San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
Ward previously worked at Idaho State from 1999-2003, including the last couple of years as the Bengals' defensive coordinator. In 2003, Ward helped Idaho State to a Big Sky Conference championship and was named the AFLAC Assistant Coach of the Year. During the 2002 season, the Bengals led the Big Sky in scoring defense and boasted a school-record with 10 All-Conference players. During three of Ward's seasons at Idaho State, the school had the conference's interception leader.
He began his coaching career in 1995 at the University of Puget Sound before moving on to Washington State in 1997 as a graduate assistant.
He also worked part of the 2007 season with the NFL's Houston Texans as a coaching intern.
The File on James Ward
Born: Aug. 3, 1972
Hometown: Tacoma, Wash.
Family: Wife - Marissa, Daughter - Annalise
Bachelor's, Business Administration, Puget Sound, 1996
Master's, Higher Education and Human Resources, Colorado State, 2006
2008-present: Cornerbacks, Nevada
2007: Coaching Intern, Houston Texans
2003-07: Assistant Coach, Colorado State
1999-2003: Assistant Coach/Defensive Coordinator, Idaho State
1997-98: Graduate Assistant, Washington State
1995-97: Assistant Coach, Puget Sound
Puget Sound: Four-year starter at cornerback (1991-94). Team captain and all-conference as a senior
Recruiting Area: Southern California: Inland Empire.