Hurricanes hire defensive coordinator who guided one of nation’s top defenses in 2022

Rick Bowmer/AP

Less than 48 hours after losing its defensive coordinator, University of Miami coach Mario Cristobal hired a new one Tuesday, luring Lance Guidry from Tulane less than a month after he was hired there, according to a source.

Guidry, 51, coordinated one of the best defenses in the nation at Marshall last season. He replaces Kevin Steele, who took the defensive coordinator job at Alabama after one season at Miami.

Cristobal continues to search for an offensive coordinator to replace Josh Gattis, who was fired.

Under Guidry, the Thundering Herd last season ranked first nationally in third-down defense (just 23.5 percent of opponent’s third downs were converted into first downs), second in stop rate (78.4), third in passing defense efficiency (104.67) and yards per play (4.6), fifth in rush defense (93.0) and turnovers gained (29), sixth in scoring defense (16.0) and passes intercepted (18), eighth in total defense (294.5) and ninth in first-down defense (200).

Marshall was 12th in defensive touchdowns (3), 16th in team sacks (2.92), 19th in red zone defense (76.7), 22nd in tackles for loss (6.9) and fumbles recovered (11), 27th in passing yards allowed (201.5) and 29th in fourth-down defense (42.9). Six of the players he coached in 2022 earned All-Sun Belt honors.

Among Marshall’s victories last season was a 26-21 win over Notre Dame, which scored 11 points below its season average.

Only Illinois, Iowa, Air Force, Minnesota and Georgia allowed fewer points per game than Marshall’s 16.0 last season. Conversely, Miami yielded 26.7 points per game, which was 67th.

Marshall permitted 294.5 yards per game last season, which was eighth best in the country. Miami relinquished 376 per game, which was 65th.

Guidry also served as Marshall’s defensive coordinator in 2021 and safeties coach the past two years.

Marshall’s defense improved from 79th to eighth in yards allowed per game from his first season (2021) to his second as coordinator. In 2021, Marshall’s defense nevertheless was above average in several areas, including passing efficiency defense (12th – 117.56), sacks (18th – 3.08) and tackles for loss (30th – 6.6).

He was a head coach at alma mater McNeese State from 2016 to 2018, going 21-12, but his contract was not renewed.

Previously, Guidry was defensive coordinator at Western Kentucky in 2011 and 2012 (where his defense ranked 26th nationally), McNeese State in 2013 through 2015 (his defense ranked 12th nationally in 2015) and Southeastern Louisiana in 2019.

He has coached in South Florida before, having worked as FAU’s safeties coach in 2020.

Guidry was a two-time all-conference selection as a four-year starter at defensive back for McNeese State from 1990 to 1993, then began his coaching career there as a graduate assistant in 1994.

UM opted for Guidry instead of promoting linebackers coach Charlie Strong, who has experience as a head coach and defensive coordinator.

Guidry often opts for four pass rushers over blitzing and frequently uses five defensive backs and two linebackers. His defenses are known for varying and disguising their looks and confusing opposing offenses.

That approach might be needed a good deal of the time at UM, which should be able to generate pressure with a defensive line including, among others, Akheem Mesidor, Jahfari Harvey, Nyjalik Kelly, Leonard Taylor, Cyrus Moss and Jared Harrison Hunte, and two transfers who graded out as two of the top pass rushing defensive tackles in the country last season - Georgia State’s Thomas Gore and Purdue’s Branson Deen.

UM’s linebackers have been shaky in pass coverage in recent years.

And UM’s secondary is in a somewhat precarious position, with limited depth at safety behind All-conference player Kamren Kinchens and James Williams, who will miss spring practice after shoulder surgery.

UM’s defensive backfield lost cornerbacks Tyrique Stevenson (a projected early-round draft pick) and DJ Ivey but added two transfers — UCF’s Devonte Brown and Iowa’s Terry Roberts, who are both enrolled. Ter’Cory Couch and Daryl Porter Jr. are the most experienced returning cornerbacks.