In the spring of 2013, McNeese State hired a former graduate of theirs to bring back the D.W.A. attitude on defense in Lance Guidry. Guidry, who is in his fourth stop back at his alma mater, first served as a graduate assistant (1994) before eventually returning as defensive coordinator (2000-2004) and then defensive backs coach (2008). Before coming back to Lake Charles, LA Guidry has two stints as an interim head coach at Miami (OH) and Western Kentucky, and served as defensive coordinator with the Hilltoppers prior to being appointed to the interim head coach role.
Now, in his third season as the assistant head coach / defensive coordinator, Guidry and the rest of the McNeese State staff have the defense playing at a ridiculously high level, and it starts with pride.
The tremendous amount of pride on the defensive side of the ball stems from the fact that half the defensive staff (both Guidry and linebackers coach Lark Hebert) both suited up in the Royal Blue and Sunflower Gold for the Cowboys as players. Outside of those two, defensive line coach Manny Michel previously served in a co-coordinator role at ULM and was a four-year starter at Tennessee Tech, and defensive backs coach Chris Hampton was a decorated safety at South Carolina before going on to grad assistant jobs at Arkansas State, and Georgia Tech.
Now, let's take a look at some of those impressive numbers to help quantify their success so far this season. The Cowboys lead the country in three defensive categories including total defense, scoring defense, and perhaps most impressive is that in their five games this season, they have yet to allow a fourth down conversion and are one of only two FCS teams nationally to do so (Southern Utah being the other).
Also, in the last 16 of 20 quarters of play, the defense has shut out opponents.
Take a look at some more of their impressive numbers and how they stack up nationally:
- 1st nationally in total defense - 243.9 ypg
- 1st nationally in scoring defense - 6.8 ppg
- 1st nationally in 4th down conversion percentage - 0.00
- 2nd nationally in 1st down defense
- 2nd in red zone defense - 50%
- 3rd nationally in rushing defense - 73.2 ypg
- 6th in 3rd down percentage defense - 27.4%
- 10th nationally in sacks - 3.2 per game
- 25th nationally in tackles for loss - 37 total
- 25th nationally in team pass efficiency defense - 112.12
Now, it's impossible to truly take in and appreciate these stats without noting that McNeese State was set to open the season week 1 in Baton Rouge against LSU, but the game got called early after a serious storm rolled into Death Valley. That game, and trying to contain Heisman candidate Leonard Fournette, likely would change these numbers, but that doesn't change the fact that Guidry and his staff have had the defense balling out the last five games since that cancellation.
Off to a 5-0 start, with games notable remaining games against Northwestern State and Sam Houston State at home and road games at Abilene Christian and Lamar, head coach Matt Viator and his gang could be in for a special season and may be primed for a nice playoff run.
Earlier in the week we highlighted James Madison and their young offensive staff putting up great numbers, now it's the McNeese State defensive staff worthy of the spotlight. Is there another college staff out there worthy of highlighting their body of work so far this season? Let me know at Doug@FootballScoop.com.