Defensive Line coach Ikaika Malloe excited to join Utah State football

LOGAN, Utah – The newest face on the sidelines of Utah State football belongs to Ikaika Malloe (ee-KEYE-ka ma-LOY) who is taking over as the defensive line coach this spring. Malloe has 13 years of coaching experience including three years as a defensive coordinator and six years as a special teams coordinator. Most recently, he spent the past two seasons at Portland State where he oversaw the special teams and defensive tackles.

We sat down with Malloe to get to know him and discuss the first three weeks of spring practice and his time on the job.

<strong>Talk about how the last month has been and how the transition to Utah State has gone for you.</strong>

“The coaching staff here, especially Coach (Matt) Wells, have made it an easy transition professionally. Coach (Todd) Orlando jumped right in to help me learn the package. It’s been hectic, but for the most part the transition has been pretty smooth. I just have to work on getting my family here. My wife and three kids are in Vancouver, Wash., right now and they’ll move here in July.”

<strong>What has impressed you most about Utah State football since joining the staff?</strong>

“The work ethic. I’m very impressed with how efficient we are here and how hard-working we are. You can tell the players love football. Whatever you teach them, they buy into it. The culture here is a little different. Everybody seems to be on one page, from the head coach to the coordinators to the assistant coaches to the players. I’m learning why we’ve been so successful here these last few years. I’m excited to jump on board and hopefully add to it.”

<strong>You coached against Utah State in 2008 when you were at Hawai’i. What things jump out at you that have changed the most in Utah State football since then?</strong>

“Right off the bat, the facilities. That’s exciting. From what I’ve seen, the involvement of the community and the pride of the program itself is a big change. There are huge strides that have been made in this program.”

<strong>What role do you see yourself playing in terms of recruiting Polynesian players? How do you anticipate that aspect of the Aggie football philosophy growing in the future?</strong>

“I will have parts of the state of Utah as my recruiting area, but if there is a Polynesian player, I’m going to be a big part of that process. It’s a culture and understanding it. Everyone has their own culture and the Polynesian one is a little bit different. My job is to get into the homes, talk to the parents and players, and be on the same page. Tough love is the best way I can explain Polynesians. It’s knowing that you can discipline them when necessary, but love them and continue their process in becoming men.”

<strong>How has spring practice been going and what have you seen from your defensive line group?</strong>

“The first scrimmage was really good for me. It helped me learn the package and some of the techniques that have been taught and some of the techniques that I’m trying to tweak. I thought the defensive line played really hard. There’s a reason why they’ve been successful in the past. Coach (Frank) Maile did a really good job. I’m inheriting good players to start with. The leadership from Elvis (Kamana-Matagi) and B.J. (Larsen) has been awesome in terms of helping me transition into what Coach Maile has done and with us moving forward from my coaching. They are very strong and they play hard. They constantly try and improve on their technique.”

<strong>What has impressed you most about Utah State’s defensive line from what you have seen on film from last year and in these first spring practices?</strong>

“Their technique in the run, how strong they are and how technically sound they are. You don’t see too many lines of scrimmage moving backward, they usually move forward. In the type of defense we play, you need that. As we move forward I’m hoping to add onto some of the pass-rush stuff that we have, just tweaking techniques that they’ve learned already to get more production out of them in the pass.”

<strong>What is the defensive line working on and trying to improve during spring practice?</strong>

“We are working on leverages in terms of the offensive linemen. Learning how wrists, elbows, and shoulder and head movement play a big part in controlling a person. Those are the things we’re trying to teach. It’s more than just an average rip or arm bar. Those are the things I’m hoping to bring that will add to what they already know.”

<strong>What do you see talent-wise from the returning five defensive linemen in B.J. Larsen, Elvis Kamana-Matagi, Jordan Nielsen, Travis Seefeldt and Ricky Ali’ifua?</strong>

“Right now we’re trying to get B.J. healthy, but from the film and what he knows and how well he knows the package, there are times he’s coaching me up in terms of what the scheme asks for and what I’ve learned from the playbook. His leadership role right now has been tremendous for me. It’s been instrumental in teaching the younger guys about the culture. Even though he’s not on the field, he’s constantly talking to them.”

“Elvis is very strong and powerful. He’s also a leader, but in a different way. He leads more by action. He’s very soft-spoken, doesn’t say much. When he does speak, people listen. To me, he is the center of the group in terms of work, inside and out.”

“Jordan, there’s a lot of experience in him. We’re just trying to work on making more plays so he knows what he’s doing. Technically, he’s pretty sound. We’re just trying to take what he has learned and make more production plays in terms of tackles and sacks. He’s making strides this spring.”

“Travis has probably been the biggest improvement that I’ve seen from past film and just in the two weeks here. He has all the tools and motivation. He wants to get better every day. He is challenging himself more than anybody else.”

“Ricky is coming off an injury as well, but he’s explosive. You watch him on film and see the fast-twitch and how much hip movement he has. He has an understanding of techniques and is very fast off the ball. When he comes back, we’re going to be pretty solid.”

“And then we’ve got some additional guys like Siua Taufa and John Taylor, so that’s exciting to see. Spring ball couldn’t come at a better time. We’re trying to improve those two and get them caught up.”

<strong>Can you talk about some of the newcomers at defensive line?</strong>

“John (Taylor) and Siua (Taufa) will fit perfectly into our package. They’re much like myself, learning the package and new techniques in a somewhat unorthodox way, un-learning what they’ve already been taught. Those are challenges they will face as we continue going through spring. When it’s all said and done in practice 15, they should be groomed well enough to fit in with the front that we have. They have special tools on both sides. John is very strong. He has a motor. Just by sheer hustle, he makes plays. When his strength connects with his technique, he’s going to be really powerful. Siua is very fast, very similar to Ricky. He’s one of those guys that once he gets off the ball, you just say ‘wow.’ Both of them are a great addition to what we already have.”

<strong>Utah State has ranked among the top run defenses and scoring defenses in the nation the last two seasons, in large part because of the play of the defensive line. Should Aggie fans expect the same production from that group this year?</strong>

“Absolutely. Each part of our defense at different positions plays a big role. The expectations shouldn’t go any lower, they should stay the same if not go beyond. Coach Orlando is going to expect us to all get better. In my opinion, the strength of the defense should come from the front, back to the back end. Coach Orlando does a great job of putting us in positions to make plays, as well as make the defense work. I’m learning a lot from him, both schematically as well as what’s expected of the defensive line and his defense. There’s no question that we expect to be at least the same. The bar is already set, now we just need to make it a little bit higher.”

<strong>What can Aggie fans expect from an Ikaika Malloe coached defensive line?</strong>

“First off, excitement. You should see great take-off from the line of scrimmage with it constantly moving in our favor. Whether we are making the plays or it’s the linebackers or defensive backs, it really doesn’t matter, you should see the defensive linemen being just as excited. From the front, you’re going to see a lot of production both in the run and the pass, because of the scheme and because of the experience that we bring back. The train is rolling and I’m trying to get on board. We can only get better and the bar has been set pretty high. You’re going to see a productive and exciting defensive line.”

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