Defensive Coordinator D.J. Vokolek Talks About MSU's Defensive Showing in the 2014 Spring Game
Coach Vokolek Previews the Bears' Safety Group
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D.J. Vokolek is in his ninth season as the Bears' defensive coordinator and associate head coach. He also assists with coaching the Bears' safeties and has been part of the Bears' staff since 2006.
Vokolek also has administrative responsibilities including facilities, medical liaison, marketing and promotion. He came to MSU after three seasons on the staff at Northern Iowa (2003-05) as well as previous coaching stints at Nebraska-Omaha and Wayne State (Neb.).
Vokolek's defense has boasted 14 MVFC All-Newcomer selections at Missouri State, including 2009 Newcomer of the Year Antoine Wilkinson, and 25 all-conference picks on the defensive side of the ball.
In 2013, MSU led the nation in red zone defense (.649) and ranked 9th in interceptions (23). The Bears forced 24 turnovers altogether and were among the nation's top 30 programs in total defense (29th), rushing defense (28th) and scoring defense (29th). The Bears also boasted six All-MVFC players a year ago, including consensus All-American safety Caleb Schaffitzel who also earned first-team Academic All-America honors.
In 2012, the Bears finished 33rd nationally in pass defense and 42nd in total defense with three MSU defenders earning All-MVFC honors. As a sophomore, Schaffitzel was a first-team all-league pick, Academic All-America selection and CFPA National Defensive Back of the Year.
In 2011, a solid freshman nucleus made up three of the team's top four tacklers. Young Bears Andrew Beisel (ILB), Mike Crutcher (S), and Schaffitzel (S) combined for 237 total stops, with Beisel and Crutcher earning MVFC All-Newcomer honors. The 2011 campaign was highlighted by a season-ending shutout over No. 17 North Dakota State, a program that ultimately advanced to the 2010 Division I quarterfinals. The win marked MSU's first shutout win since 2004.
The 2010 Bears finished 24th nationally in sacks per game (2.45), while ranking 30th in turnover margin (+0.36) behind 11 interceptions. Under Vokolek, the Bears changed to a 3-4 front in 2009 and gave up 120 fewer yards per game in total defense.
Prior to his time in Springfield, Vokolek was on the staff of UNI head coach Mark Farley in 2003 as assistant head coach and linebackers coach. He added the position of co-defensive coordinator in 2004 and assumed all the defensive duties for the 2005 campaign. Vokolek went to Cedar Falls after six years as an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. From 1997-99 he was linebackers coach and academic coordinator for the Mavericks and coached linebackers as defensive coordinator at UNO from 2000-02.
Among the many outstanding recruits he landed at UNO was current MSU assistant coach Taiwo Onatolu.
A native of Lincoln, Neb., Vokolek was a four-year gridder at Nebraska-Kearney, serving as team captain three seasons and winning NCAA Division II All-Nebraska honors three times as a linebacker. He graduated from UNK in 1992 with a degree in biology and was a graduate assistant for three seasons at Nebraska-Omaha, earning his master's degree in physical education at UNO in 1996. He coached the defensive secondary at Wayne State for one season before returning to UNO for a six-year stint.
Vokolek and his wife, Pam, have two children, Travis and Leah.