Sixth Season At SUU
Justin Ena is in his sixth season on the Thunderbird staff, his fourth as defensive coordinator. He also serves as the team's linebackers coach and spent two seasons as special teams coordinator, in 2008 and 2009.
Last season, in the Thunderbirds' first campaign in the Big Sky Conference and playing with a roster filled with freshmen, Coach Ena's defense led the conference in red zone efficiency and was a big factor to the Thunderbirds leading the league and ranking fifth overall in the FCS in turnover margin. The Thunderbirds averaged 1.1 interceptions per game, third-best in the Sky, and ranked fifth in the BSC and 27th in the nation in sacks in 2012.
SUU had three all-Americans on the defensive side of the ball last year: defensive tackle Cody Larsen and freshman all-Americans Zak Browning, a linebacker, and James Cowser, a defensive end. Browning was also named the Big Sky's Freshman of the Year in 2012.
In 2012, Coach Ena's defense ranked 19th in the country against the pass and averaged 2.82 sacks per game, the 13th-best average at the FCS level. Two Thunderbird defenders, Tyler Osborne and Cody Larsen, ranked among the top-70 in sacks, with Osborne at No. 16 with .95 sacks per game and Larsen 68th with .55 per outing. In addition, linebacker Chad Hansen was 42nd in the nation with 9.45 tackles per game.
The Thunderbirds placed seven defenders on the all-GWC team in 2011, including five first-team selections. Osborne was also named the conference's defensive player of the year to become SUU's first defender to earn such recognition.
In his first season as the Thunderbirds' defensive coordinator, Coach Ena headed up a unit which had some of the top single-game efforts in school history. In the season-opener at Wyoming, the T-Birds held the Cowboys to just 36 rushing yards, and at San Jose State, the 'Birds limited the Spartans to 57 yards on the ground and 250 total yards. San Diego managed just 34 passing and 153 total yards; the Torero's passing total is the sixth lowest by an SUU opponent.
At the end of the 2010 season the SUU defense had given up just 3,407 total yards, the third-lowest total in an 11-game season in the school's history, including 1,279 rushing yards, the fifth-lowest total in an 11-game season.
The 2010 defense ranked 21st in the nation against the run, 21st in total defense and 17th in scoring defense after allowing just 19.18 points per game. SUU also ranked 24th nationally with 2.45 sacks per game and 25th in tackles for loss with 7.09 per game.
The coaches voted five Thunderbird defenders to the all-Great West Conference first team in 2010, with two more earning second-team recognition and another receiving honorable mention.
In 2008 and 2009 Coach Ena's special teams were among the finest in the country. Punter Trevor Ward earned multiple all-America honors after leading the nation in yards per punt in 2009 while Fesi Sitake was seventh in the nation in punt return average. As a team, SUU led the nation in net punting and was ninth in punt return average. In 2008 return specialist Nick Miller led the nation in all-purpose yards and ranked fifth in punt return yards. Ward earned honorable mention all-America honors in 2008 after ranking sixth in the country in net punting yards and eighth overall. SUU's punt return team ranked third in the country in net yardage while the punt cover team was sixth.
Coach Ena played his collegiate ball at Brigham Young University, where he was a four-year starter and a three-time all-Mountain West Conference performer at linebacker.
Following his collegiate days, Ena moved on to the National Football League, where he played four seasons - including three for the Philadelphia Eagles and one for the Tennessee Titans - before retiring.
The job at Southern Utah represents Coach Ena's first collegiate coaching position. His first coaching experience came in his hometown of Shelton, Wash., where he was an assistant on the staff at Shelton High School while he rehabbed a knee injury prior to attending BYU.
Coach Ena and his wife, Dana, are the parents of two children, a son, Justice, and a daughter, Olivia.
|Alma Mater:||Brigham Young|