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Coaching Quack: DL Coach Joe Salave’a

Coach Joe

What are the Ducks getting in their current DL coach? Is Coach Joe going to be in Eugene for the long haul? What kind of recruiter is he? Is he developer of talent or just a recruiter?

Coach: Joe Salave’a

Title: Associate Head Coach / Co-Defensive Coordinator / Run Game Coordinator / Defensive Line

Contract: 3 years, $650,000 base, $125,000 incentives, $5,000 per year for 985+ APR,

JS Buyout: 20% of guaranteed contract unless it is for a play calling DC or HC job at the FBS level

Oregon Buyout: 60% of remainder of contract until 2021

Age: 43

Alma Mater: Arizona

- Eight year NFL veteran that was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 1998 during their glory years from the late 1990s and early 2000s. Played defensive tackle. Is a big supporter of Samoan football through his foundation. Native of American Samoa where their football heritage is a rich one. Basically a West Coast guy that has never coached any farther east than Arizona. Well known for his excellent tenure at Washington State. Three time Pac-10 all conference player at Arizona.

- Began his coaching career at San Jose State under Dick Tomey. He barely missed crossing paths there with OC Marcus Arroyo by a year.

- Came to Oregon in 2017 after serving as the defensive line coach for Wazzu from 2012 - 2016.


Best Oregon recruit: Penei Sewell. A four star offensive line recruit that was ranked number one in the state of Utah, second at his position, and 57th nationally. Signed with Oregon during the most recent Signing Day in 2018. Chose the Ducks over 24 other schools that offered him a scholarship. Expected to compete for a job on the offensive line during fall camp.

Best Other recruit: Thomas Toki. A JUCO four star defensive tackle recruit that was ranked third in the state of California, 19th at his position, and unranked nationally. He originally signed with Washington State but never made it due to academics. He signed with Arkansas State this past recruiting cycle.


Too soon to tell. He’s very influential in the Asian / Pacific Islander community and has a successful track record getting recruits from that part of the world. He has been a fast riser in the coaching ranks as of late. Come back and check in a few years.

Player Development


Jarron Gilbert - Was a standout performer for the Spartans. Two time All-WAC defensive lineman. A four year career in the NFL but didn’t do much. JS developed him into a third round pick for the Chicago Bears in 2009.

Washington State

Destiny Vaeao - He didn’t do much until his senior season for the Cougars but the Eagles saw enough talent and development from JS to merit an UDFA signing. He’s still on the roster after two years and has a Super Bowl ring to show for it. Apparently the Eagles’ super secret emergency kicker. Most UDFA guys don’t even last a year in the NFL so he has to be good.

Xavier Cooper - Was a dominant force during his redshirt sophomore and junior seasons before going pro. Cooper was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He’s since played for the 49ers and Jets. Currently a member of the Jets. Expected to compete for playing time as an defensive end.

Hercules Mata’afa - He is arguably the best defensive lineman in Cougars history. Three time All Pac-12 honors. He really blew up as a redshirt junior. Was the engine behind the Wazzu defense. A tackle for loss machine that placed second all time in school history in the category. Fourth all time in school history for sacks. UDFA for the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately he suffered a torn ACL during OTAs and was subsequently cut.

Final Summary

The Ducks defensive line has made massive improvements since Salave’a was hired. He brings a wealth of NFL knowledge and a history of getting the most out of his defensive linemen. Not known as an elite level recruiter yet but is well on his way to becoming one. Most of his guys have had a cup of coffee in the NFL so he can point that out to recruits. I don’t know if it was by design during his previous coaching stops but it seems like he’s done really well in recruiting prospects that are of Pacific Islands descent. He is the primary recruiter for several big time five and four star defensive targets for the Ducks this year. His quick rise to becoming the associate head coach bodes well for his future. It will be interesting to see if the run game coordinator title is just a fancy title for extra financial benefits or he is legitimately invested in that part of the offense.