Lance Guidry helped make McNeese State synonymous with good defense and he’s trying to work the same magic with Southeastern Louisiana in his first year as defensive coordinator.
Guidry split six years as coordinator and head coach with the Cowboys where he was a part of four Southland Conference titles and six playoff teams. Even while going 6-5 last year, Guidry had the Cowboys second in scoring and total defense in the SLC.
His mission is to get the Lions up from eighth out of 11 teams in those two categories. He’s continuing the overhaul from a 3-4 alignment to a 4-2-5 he started in the spring during fall practice with the Aug. 29 season opener against Jacksonville State two weeks away.
“It’s going well,” Guidry said. “We stayed basic in the spring but in this camp we’ve added some stuff we needed. We had a great day (Thursday). We have a lot of weapons on offense to go against so we’re making each other better.
“We were more crisp picking up the things the offense is doing, recognizing and learning what we’re supposed to. At the end, we stopped them twice. We played smarter and faster. We had a cleaner look (Thursday) and needed to because we were giving up too many big plays.”
Guidry said the Lions have the right pieces but likes the new scheme because it “fits the personnel better” overall. Last season, SLU allowed 33.5 points and 458.7 yards per game while getting only 15 turnovers and 24 sacks, third fewest in the league.
“We’re thin at some spots, but we created more depth by going to this scheme,” Guidry said. “We have some linebackers that can run, defensive linemen that can rush the passer, and multiple defensive backs. But we have guys who can run well and as long as you do you have a chance to stay in the game.”
Two standouts Guidry will count on are all-conference linebacker Isaac Adeyemi-Berglund and defensive back Xavier Lewis. Berglund was a playmaker with six sacks, 10 tackles for loss, six pass breakups and three forced fumbles. He’ll play more from a three-point stance as an end but with pass coverage responsibilities at times.
“It’s a little different but all about stopping the ball,” Berglund said. “I did this in high school, my hand in the dirt. It’s more like home and some of the same principles. I’m comfortable with it. I could be on the tight end or the running back. We’ll show a lot of different looks.”
Guidry likes Berglund’s intangibles.
“He’s a physical kid, a high-motor guy,” Guidry said. “We’re going to do multiple things with him to try and create a pass rush. He’s a leader by example and blue-collar guy, a workhorse. You want a guy like him on your team at any level.
"He’ll drop in coverage, rush the passer, lock up on tight ends, blitz him," Guidry said. "He’s smart and has the athletic ability to do that. He’ll have his hand in the dirt most of the time."
Lewis brings versatility and will play mostly at the star position or nickel cornerback.
“He has the ability to play every secondary position,” Guidry said. “He played corner and star last year but I think he’s a safety at the next level. He’s a good tackler and a great blitzer with good athleticism. He brings punch like an outside linebacker.”
Lewis, an LSU transfer, had 7½ tackles for loss, two sacks, three forced fumbles, two recoveries and three pass breakups while playing cornerback and safety.
Lewis said he’s adapted to the new defense quickly and that it fits him well.
“I love it," he said. "Coach Guidry brings a different energy that brings out the passion in me and allows me to play fast. Anything to get me flying around the ball, getting to the ball and making plays for my team. I have to build off last year, embrace the role I’m given each week.”
Former Lion coaches honored
SLU honored six former coaches last Saturday for their contributions to the program at a luncheon last Saturday. Bob Mahfouz, Tony Misita, Dan Chatwood, Ken Magee, Robert Youngblood and Oscar Lofton. These men are being celebrated for their dedication to their profession and SLU players.
Lion season ticket holders can pick up their tickets at the annual Season Ticket Party in the Victory Club at 11 a.m. Saturday. Season ticket holders only are invited.