Back in late January Gardner-Webb pulled the trigger on their open head coaching job by hiring Carroll McCray, who had been serving as the head coach at Division II North Greenville. The turnaround the McCray and his staff engineered in their first season, especially on the defensive side of the ball, was nothing short of spectacular.
As the infographic shows, with virtually the same players the defensive staff was able to completely flip the script on the 2012 campaign, jumping at least 40 spots (and leading the conference) in six different defensive categories.
Those strides led to a four game win improvement, from 3-8 in 2012 to a 7-5 finish in 2013. Of those seven wins, three of them came against top 12 teams (#8 Wofford, #11 Richmond, and #12 Charleston).
All of this with essentially the same players contributing as the program had in 2012. That's what makes this kind of turnaround so impressive. A new staff comes in, changes the mindset of the team, is able to maximize the potential of the guys that they inherited, and most importantly, gets everyone to buy in to the new vision of the program.
It will be interesting to see what the staff at Gardner-Webb is able to do with a few recruiting classes under their belts. Below is a quick graphic highlighting their improvement on the defensive side of the ball.