FootballScoop is proud to announce that Ryan Hodges (Ferris State) is the 2021 FootballScoop Division II Coordinator of the Year, presented by AstroTurf as selected by prior winners.
One can make an argument -- as I am about to do here -- that no one in college football had a better season than Ferris State. Yes, of course champions in Division I, Division III and NAIA were or will be crowned. But only one team went on an undefeated run to their first national title: the Division II champions, Ferris State.
You don't get to 14-0 without excellence on both sides of the ball, and the Bulldogs were.
In addition to boasting the best offense in the land, Ferris State's defense was elite as well. Hodges' defense ranked 12th at 4.28 yards per play, while defending 903 plays -- fifth-most in the nation. Among all defenses that fielded at least 800 plays, Ferris State's 4.28 yards per play average ranked third.
Ferris State's defense surrendered 30 touchdowns over 14 games, with an 18.3 scoring average that placed 21st nationally.
Like all champions, though, Ferris State's defense stepped up a level when the competition was toughest. Throughout their 4-game playoff run, in which the Bulldogs knocked out four AFCA top-10 teams, Ferris State limited Grand Valley State (39.6 points per game heading into the contest) to 20 in the first round. Quarterfinal opponent Northwest Missouri State (37.8 points per game) scored 20. Shepherd entered the semifinals scoring 463. points a game; they scored just seven. And in the national title game, Valdosta State managed merely 17 points after averaging 43.3 all season.
Ferris State ranked 15th nationally with 2.86 yards per carry allowed and 12th in pass efficiency defense. Asked to protect a large lead week after week, the Bulldogs defended 434 passes, permitting 197 completions (45.4 percent) for 2,521 yards (5.8 per attempt) with 21 touchdowns against 20 interceptions.
Ferris State also recovered 11 fumbles, tying for sixth nationally with 31 takeaways.
Hodges' defense was also a top-15 unit on third down, allowing conversions on 29.1 percent of attempts.
Sophomore defensive end Caleb Harris was a finalist for the Cliff Harris Award, given to the top defensive player in Division II. The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year led the nation with 14.5 sacks and tied for fourth with 21.5 TFLs. In addition to Murphy, senior defensive lineman Austin Simpson, senior linebacker John Higgins, freshman defensive back Vince Cooley, and junior defensive back Jamil Thomas were First-Team All-GLIAC performers; senior defensive lineman Sam Girodat and sophomore linebacker Major Dedmond were Second-Team All-GLIAC honorees; and junior defensive lineman Lere Oladipo, junior defensive lineman Jordan Jones, senior linebacker Liam Daly, and junior defensive back Cyntell Williams earned honorable mention.
Hodges dates back with Ferris State head coach Tony Annese all the way to Montrose (Mich.) High School, where Hodges was a defensive back and Annese the head coach. Hodges then played at FSU, earning All-GLIAC accolades in 2000 before becoming a student coach in 2002. Hodges re-united with Annese at Muskegon (Mich.) High School, before the pair moved onto Grand Rapids Community College in 2009 and then Ferris State in 2012, winning titles at all three stops.
The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by AstroTurf are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Buddy Blevins [Fort Valley State], Roddy Mote [Harding], Adam Neugebauer [Slippery Rock] and Beschorner) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel. The prior winners selected this year's winner.
Previous winners of the Division II Coordinator of the Year award are Tim Beck (Pittsburg State [Kan.], 2008), Scott Preston (Arkansas Tech, 2009), Ken Collums (Abilene Christian, 2010), Hunter Hughes (Colorado State-Pueblo, 2011), Paul Tortorella (Indiana [Pa.], 2012), Josh Kline (Shepherd [W. Va.], 2013), Rich Wright (Northwest Missouri State, 2014 and 2015), Charlie Flohr (Northwest Missouri State, 2016), Matt Storm (Texas A&M-Commerce, 2017), Donnell Leomiti (Colorado State-Pubelo, 2018), and Joe Beschorner (Minnesota State, 2019).
12th Nationally -- Yards Per Play
6th Nationally -- Takeaways
12th Nationally -- Passing Efficiency
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