WKU defense excelling in second year under Guidry

Lucas Aulbach

When members of WKU’s defense said this offseason that they had Top 10 aspirations, they weren’t exaggerating.

Players preached all summer about the benefits of playing under Defensive Coordinator Lance Guidry’s system for the second year, and it’s paying off on the field now.

At this moment, WKU ranks No. 13 in the NCAA in total defense and No. 15 in pass defense. Sophomore safety Jonathan Dowling is also tied for the NCAA individual lead in interceptions.

The players might give credit to Guidry and the schemes he’s brought to the defense, but the coach gives the credit right back to them.

“It’s all about players buying into it,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to promote what you believe in, and they have to believe in it.”

Guidry, who was hired in February 2011, uses a 4-3 defense most of the time, which uses four linemen and three linebackers in front of four defensive backs.

It’s a system commonly used in the NFL, and one the Toppers are finding success with.

Senior defensive tackle Jamarcus Allen said continuity is key for WKU’s progress.

The Toppers played in a 4-3 defense under former defensive coordinator Clint Bowen, but the tweaks Guidry brought to the system took some time for the team to adjust to.

“Having someone in this system longer than two years, everybody knows the schemes better,” Allen said. “We don’t have to learn a new scheme over again. Just everything is more faster than it was before.”

Allen is one of six seniors on a WKU defense that is expected to start 11 upperclassmen this Saturday at Arkansas State. The defensive line alone is made up of four seniors.

Guidry said that kind of returning experience makes his job a lot easier.

“Those guys have been playing for a long time, especially those guys up front,” he said. “They had to play when they were real young and took some whippings when they were real young, and now they’re trying to give out the whippings.”

Guidry’s schemes might have changed the defense, but his demeanor on the field has totally shaped it.

The coach can regularly be seen at practices running around the field with his players and giving an earful to guys when they miss plays.

“Coach Guidry is like another player,” Allen said. “He gets more excited than we do sometimes, but he’ll also get on our case if we’re not doing things to the best of our abilities. It feels like he’s a player, but also he’s a coach.”

Senior safety Kareem Peterson said the Toppers try to reflect the energy Guidry brings to the defense on the field.

“You definitely can see it through us in the way we play and the way we act,” Peterson said. “We play with a lot of heart and a lot of passion. We take every game personal, and that’s the same way he is.”