Former Taggart assistant leading McNeese defense
TAMPA -- USF coach Willie Taggart will see a familiar face across the field in Saturday's season opener, as opponent McNeese State's defensive coordinator is Lance Guidry, his defensive coordinator at Western Kentucky for the past two seasons.
"It's going to be a curveball for us at McNeese, but I really love what we did at Western with Coach Taggart's offense," Guidry said by phone this week. "You gain leverage on the defense with all the shifting and motion, and you can get in and out of plays quickly. They do a really good job, Coach Taggart's a great play-caller, and he and Coach (offensive coordinator Walt) Wells work well together. It's a really tough offense to defend, because they control the ball."
Guidry wasn't among five WKU assistants Taggart brought with him, nor was he retained by the Hilltoppers after he served as interim coach in their bowl game. He landed at his alma mater for his fourth coaching stint there and said he has nothing but thanks for Taggart and the opportunity he was given two years ago, when he was suddenly out of work when Pitt fired Mike Haywood just 17 days after hiring him.
"It's going to be good. Those guys are all my friends," he said. "I was out of a job when Coach Taggart hired me. It was a blessing and I got to meet all those guys. They do a great job, and I'm back home in Louisiana now where I'm from. It was kind of a win-win for everybody. I haven't seen the guys since the bowl game, so this will be like a reunion."
McNeese can be a dangerous team as I-AA opponents go -- they opened last season by knocking off Middle Tennessee State, which went on to beat Taggart's WKU team, as well as Georgia Tech. Guidry said his familiarity with what Taggart will be running helps, but only so much.
"I know the offense pretty well, but the kids haven't gone up against it," he said. "There are a lot of things in my mind that I remember we did, things you won't see on tape that I remember, but you can't prepare for everything. I imagine they'll add some wrinkles I haven't seen, but I really enjoy coaching defense on the opposite side of that offense. It's going to be a tall task."