Mario Cristobal acted fast-fast this time around and hired Lance Guidry away from Tulane as his new defensive coordinator. The 51 year old Guidry is a defensive backs coach by trade and a former DB at McNeese State from 1990-1993. Over a 30 year career, Guidry has a coached at his alma mater eight times; as well as at the high school, FCS and FBS levels.
Most recently, Guidry was the DC at Marshall. The Thundering Herd’s defense finished the 2022 season ranked 8th in the nation per the SP+. Coach Guidry will be used to working with an inept offense as he posted that top-10 finish with the nation’s 122nd ranked offense and 121st ranked defense to support him.
This past year, Guidry’s unit was top 10 ranked in eight different categories – including the nation’s top defense on third down – and helped the Thundering Herd engineer an upset win at Notre Dame.
In 2021, the Herd finished 41st in SP+ defense under Guidry. Before Guidry took over, the Herd defense finished 22nd in 2020 in a 10 game season, and 59th in 2019.
Prior to Marshall, Guidry was at Florida Atlantic under Jim Leavitt who runs a 3-4 defense. Leavitt is tough personality but a solid DC that knows Willie Taggart and Mario Cristobal fairly well.
Guidry has prior head coaching experience, which is a positive for Cristobal on his staff. It also means he might have the ambition to return to that head coaching status soon, something I wanted in both coordinator hires. Guidry was 21-12 as a head coach at McNeese State, including 17-10 in conference. His contact wasn’t renewed after a 6-5 season in 2018.
Pros and Cons of Guidry
Guidry is a safeties coach specifically, and defensive backs coach in general. He’ll inherit a defensive backfield that has All-American safety Kameron Kinchens, and former five-star safety James Williams.
He molds his scheme to what he’s got on the roster, and to what is across the field from him. This is a coach that isn’t stuck in his ways, he’s coached in even and odd defenses, but he’s aggressive by nature. No more passive defense, this will be more Manny Diaz than Mark D’Onofrio.
His Marshall defense in 2022 had players with 15, 10.5, 9.5, and 8.5 tackles for loss. Marshall also had 15 players with 1⁄2 a sack or more, including team leader Owen Porter with 9.5. Herd cornerbacks Steven Gilmore and Micah Abraham each logged 10 pass breakups in ‘22. The duo also combined for nine interceptions last year.
Guidry has the head coaching experience that’s key to building a program, and hopefully the desire to return to that status soon. He’s a Louisiana native that can hopefully bring in some New Orleans area recruits to The U.
His cons are clear as day from his resume. Guidry has been coaching college football since 1994 but has spent most of his career on the FCS level. You’d want to see someone that was further entrenched in the Power 5 level, let alone the FBS level.
However, current Kansas head coach Lance Leipold had only there years of full-time FBS experience prior to his head coaching gig with Buffalo. Current Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman had only GA’d for one season at the FBS level prior to his Big 12 Championship winning tenure at KSU.
And Willie Fritz, the man who hired Guidry at Tulane earlier this off-season before he jumped to Coral Gables, had never coached FBS football prior to his AAC Championship and Cotton Bowl Championship run with the Green Wave- at the age of 62.
Marshall vs. Notre Dame, 2022
Do you remember Marshall upsetting Notre Dame in Week Two of the 2022 season? I sure do. The Thundering Herd confused Notre Dame OC (now with Alabama) Tom Rees and his QB’s. Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne combined to throw three interceptions with only one touchdown against Marshall.
They also averaged only 5.8 yards per pass attempt and 3.5 yards per carry. Two players had double-digit yards per catch averages that game, and one was future NFL tight end Michael Mayer. Mayer caught the lone Irish TD pass, and Buchner ran in both scores on the ground.
Marshall picked up two sacks, three TFL’s, and three PBU’s to go with their three picks in the upset win. The Herd also scored on defense off of Gilmore’s 37 yard INT return for a touchdown.
Personally, I like his 4-2-5 defense look with only two down linemen. It’s modern football and teams are going to jet sweep, screen, RPO, zone read, power read, and mesh you to death. This way, Guidry’s defenses can drop and rush guys from anywhere, and the “defensive ends” are up with their eyes on the quarterback already. Dropping into coverage, bringing pressure, or setting the edge are all at an equal advantage.
More DB’s on the field means more speed on the field. All we ever hear about is “South Florida Speed” well it’s time to put that money where everyone’s mouth is. S&C Coordinator Aaron Feld and Mario Cristobal need to keep the players FAST. Stop slowing the guys down with 300’s, 200’s and 100’s and work on more max velocity days. Condition with football in mind, not futbol.
Above- Marshall caught in a messy scrape exchange against a scrape exchange beating concept. ND is running inside zone read with a wrapping TE, the TE’s job is to pick up the LB that shows to play the QB, as the DE ‘scrapes’ down the line of scrimmage (LOS).
It doesn’t get much but it gets the 1st down on 2nd and 1.
Above- Shedding blocks, D-Ends scooping into the b-gap, DT’s playing wide to the C... this is chaos, but played soundly. It’s chaos for you, not the defense- unlike with Manny Diaz’s defense. This is gap sound.
Above- Pressure, and from the middle of the OL instead of the edges. Middle pressure is much harder for QB’s to work against than edge pressure. There’s no where to go when a LB is in your chinstrap
Above- It was starting to become a chess match and Rees draws up a nice one here. Pulling dual TE’s, fake zone before an end around (an actual end around). Over-aggressive D’s like Marshall will give up some of these trick plays. Boom or bust!
Above- The CB jumps the hitch for one of The Herds three picks. Aggressive play calling and an aggressive mentality will lead to ball hawking. The question is- does Miami have aggressive CB’s? Hope so.
Above- the dreaded missed tackle in the open field. This is an area Miami needs to improve on ten-fold in order to improve as a defense.
Above- The lack of adjustment against the IZ Read with the wrapping TE is tough. Buchner is just athletic enough here, and Drake Maye, Jordan Travis and others on the Miami schedule will be, too. Adapt or fade away.
Above- What in the D’Onofrio happened here?! Whew a tough look with 11 seconds to go and splitting safeties here.
Above- A BIG TIME 4TH DOWN STOP. If you thought this weird defense can’t stop the run, you’re wrong. ND is known for big OL, TE’s and the ability to pick this up.
Above- ND changes up the IZ Read. This time they tag a post-snap RPO to the wing guy and it lures the outside force player into the corner of the end zone. Hell of a running lane for the QB as the force guy bites inside on the RB.
Above- Another hitch, another pick. This one for a TD for Marshall.
Above- ND’s third pick, this one just an easy one for Marshall. Rees’ QB’s had unraveled at this point. The different looks, coverages, and pressures can do that to a QB.
Above- Feast or famine. The Marshall defense starts to tee off on the QB’s of Notre Dame.
Above- The last glimmer of hope is sacked out of the Irish on the 2-point conversion.
It’s late in the carousel for a DC hire (and an OC hire, for that matter) as spring football is less than a month away. The DC hire needed to happen NOW as the OC will more than likely continue to run a similar offense to 2022.
Nick Saban had to re-hire Kevin Steele, aka his Burt Peterson (above) for another run at when (not if) Nick will get tired of Steele again. Miami scooped up the recent Tulane hire in Guidry, and the rest is as boom or bust as Coach Guidry’s scheme is for Coach Cristobal.
I like the hire. It wasn’t promoting some old P5 retread like Charlie Strong or Jim Leavitt (no chance for Mario and Jim and their egos to live on the same planet together, to be honest). This is a creative hire, a fun one, and here’s to hoping it works out!