Keith Dudzinski enters the seventh season of his second stint on the UMass coaching staff in 2010, as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Dudzinski, who previously worked with the Minutemen from 1998-2001, returned to UMass under former head coach Don Brown, after spending two years at Northeastern University.
The Minuteman defense has been one of the top in the nation over the last six years. IN 2009 Tyler Holmes had a tremendous season as he was named All CAA after racking up 100 tackles. He heads into 2010 as a Preseason All-American. In 2008, guided by Dudzinski UMass had one of the top linebacker corps in the nation led by All-CAA first-team selection Josh Jennings. The explosive linebacker was a three-time CAA Defensive Player of the Week in racking up 90 total takes. Jennings was joined by fellow seniors George Byrd and Andrew Resende-Gomes at linebacker.
The 2007 season was no different as the Minutemen led the CAA in total defense, giving up just 309.6 yards per game and scoring defense, allowing 19.2 points per game. The Minutemen also led the CAA in sacks, tackles for loss and passing efficiency defense. The UMass defense had five first-team All-CAA selections including linebackers Jason Hatchell and Charles Walker, who worked directly with Dudzinski.
Hatchell, who was a Buchanan Award candidate, as the top defensive player in the nation, was also named an All-American. He piled up 115 tackles and finished his career with 360 tackles, sixth in UMass history. He also third in career assisted tackles with 206. Walker is also on the top 10 lists in career tackles and assisted tackles after he led UMass with 116 tackles in 2007. Walker finished ninth in career stops with 340 and fourth in assists with 199.
UMass' defense was impressive all season as the Minutemen advanced to the National Championship game in 2006. The Minutemen led the nation in scoring defense until that championship game, finishing fifth, giving up 13.33 points per game. The Minutemen finished in the top 20 nationally in nine defensive statistics.
Dudzinski worked directly with three all-conference linebackers in Hatchell, Walker and Brad Anderson. All three players racked up more than 100 tackles on the season. All-American Hatchell, emerged as one of the nation's top tacklers as he finished second in the conference with 134 stops. Walker and Anderson each earned Second-Team All-Conference as they racked up 131 and 112 tackles, respectively. On defense, UMass had eight all-conference picks, most of any school as part of the all-time conference record 20 honorees.
During the 2005 season, Dudzinski coached UMass to the top defense in the nation in terms of fewest points allowed per game, giving up just 13.27 per contest. The Minutemen led the A-10 in five defensive categories as they ranked in the top nation's top five in four of those statistics. UMass topped the conference in total yardage defense, passing defense, pass efficiency defense and net punting along with scoring defense.
Working with the linebackers, he coached two A-10 second-team honorees in two-time team captain Serge Tikum and Hatchell, who led UMass in tackles with 107 - to rank eighth in the league. The defense also included two-time consensus first-team All-American Shannon James and all-league selections defensive end Keron Williams and safety James Ihedigbo.
In 2004, Dudzinski headed up a UMass defense which featured consensus first-team All-American Shannon James, who led the nation in interceptions. With the linebacker corps, Dudzinski coached a group that included Tikum and Walker, who tied the UMass school record for tackles in a game with 23 vs. Delaware on Sept. 25, 2004.
In 2002 and 2003, Dudzinski spent two seasons as linebackers coach at Northeastern under Don Brown, in addition to serving as defensive coordinator in 2003. He directed the career of first team All-American and two-time first team All-Atlantic 10 selection Liam Ezekiel, who made 140 total tackles in 2003. During the 2002 season, the Huskies allowed opponents only 299.3 total yards and 16.0 points per game, while in 2003 they gave up just 338.2 total yards and 18.2 points per contest. During the 2002 campaign, Dudzinski helped lead Northeastern to an overall record of 10-3, a share of the Atlantic 10 Conference title and the school's first-ever trip to the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs.
During his first stint as an assistant coach at UMass under Mark Whipple, Dudzinski served in a variety of roles on the defensive side of the ball. He coached the secondary in 2001, the linebackers in 1999 and 2000, and the defensive line in 1998, in addition to directing UMass' special teams from 1999-2001. Dudzinski guided the career of Kole Ayi, who was a two-time first team All-American and two-time Buck Buchanan Award finalist under his direction.
Dudzinski first joined the UMass staff after spending four years at Brown under Whipple as the defensive line coach for the Bears. Dudzinski helped the Brown defense hold opponents to just 194 total points during the 1997 season (19.4 points per game) -- the fewest number of points allowed by the school in 10 years. While at Brown, he helped develop two-time first-team All-Ivy defensive tackle Brendan Finneran (1996 and 1997).
Prior to coming to Brown, Dudzinski was a defensive assistant at New Haven under Whipple for three years (1991-93), working with the outside linebackers. He has also worked as an assistant coach at Kolbe Cathedral High School in Bridgeport, Conn., and St. Joseph's High School in Trumbull, Conn.
Dudzinski is a 1991 graduate of the University of New Haven, where he was an All-New England linebacker and team captain as a senior. He and his wife, Kathy, reside in Belchertown with their son, Jack (born April 13, 1996), and two daughters, Mary Kathryn (born March 19, 1998) and Elizabeth (born November 10, 2003).
Dudzinski's Collegiate Coaching File
Years School Assignment 1991-1993 New Haven Outside Linebackers 1994-1997 Brown Defensive Line 1998 Massachusetts Defensive Line 1999-2000 Massachusetts Linebackers / Special Teams 2001 Massachusetts Secondary / Special Teams 2002 Northeastern Linebackers 2003 Northeastern Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers 2004- Massachusetts Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers