USD head football coach Bob Nielson has found himself a new defensive coordinator.
Nielson announced January 15 that he hired Travis Johansen, who was with Grand View University for the last six seasons.
Johansen has garnered one of the best defenses in the NAIA over the last three years as the Vikings’ defensive coordinator and secondary coach. In 2018, Grand View held their opponents to 23.7 points per game, good for 28th in NAIA.
The defense might have been its best on third downs where opponents were held to a 28.5% (39-of-137) conversion rate, good for eighth. In total defense, Grand View ranked 10th with 301 yards per game.
In 2017, Johansen had his defense inside of the top 15 in those three categories. In all three years as defensive coordinator, the team held opponents under 30% on third down conversions.
Johansen helped develop seven defensive All-Americans and has been a finalist for multiple assistant coach and coordinator of the year awards.
Johansen has also worked at Concordia University-St. Paul (Minn.) where he held the same role, but with the added duties of special teams coordinator. He also oversaw team academics.
Johansen recruited the first-ever player from Concordia-St. Paul to be drafted to the NFL. Zach Moore was drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2014 draft and now plays for the Arizona Cardinals.
Johansen will be bringing what he called “position-less football” to USD in 2019. He was featured in a November Sports Illustrated article that pertained to the future of defense in football. His versatile personnel groups are designed to stop the new offensive craze of run-pass option play styles.
Johansen looks to bring his new defense to a Coyote team that ranked eighth out of 10 Missouri Valley Conference teams in points allowed last season. In 2017, the Coyotes allowed the second most points in the conference while still appearing in the FCS playoffs.