Gilbert dismisses all assistants

New Cowboys football coach will start with fresh staff

Sterlin Gilbert has not been the McNeese State head football coach for long, but he’s already made some major changes.

{{tncms-inline account=”dBerrySports” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">FootballScoop is reporting that new McNeese head football coach Sterlin Gilbert will not retain any on-field coaches from Lance Guidry's staff. Not surprising, though I thought they'd keep maybe one coach</p>— David E. Berry (@dBerrySports) <a href="https://twitter.com/dBerrySports/status/1070703413976068096?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 6, 2018</a></blockquote>” id=”1070703413976068096″ type=”twitter”}}

After the school confirmed Gilbert’s hire on Wednesday night, it was reported that he met with the entire coaching staff and informed them that none would be retained. As of Thursday, no football coach — other than Gilbert — was listed on the McNeese athletic website.

Gilbert had a few quotes in the McNeese statement which confirmed his hire, but otherwise he has not spoken in public yet. That will end at 11 a.m. today when he will have his introductory news conference in the EndZone Room of the Jack V. Doland Fieldhouse.

{{tncms-inline account=”dBerrySports” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The McNeese introductory press conference for new Head football coach Sterlin Gilbert <a href="https://t.co/eZDN8ZM5yy">https://t.co/eZDN8ZM5yy</a></p>— David E. Berry (@dBerrySports) <a href="https://twitter.com/dBerrySports/status/1071090027545923587?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 7, 2018</a></blockquote>” id=”1071090027545923587″ type=”twitter”}}

“I am extremely honored to be the head football coach at McNeese,” Gilbert said in the school news release. “I’m excited to meet with our players, laying out the vision, culture, and how we will directly invest in their success.”

South Florida head coach Charlie Strong spoke about Gilbert’s departure during Tuesday’s Gasparilla Bowl media news conference.

“He’s really prepared for that moment and I wish him nothing but the best,” Strong said. “What’s key for him is getting in a good staff, because any time you become a head coach for the first time, you want to make sure you have a good staff in place. I told him, ‘When you sit down in that chair, you’re gonna look at that wall and say, What have I done?’ And you’ve got to be able to answer a lot of questions, but if you surround yourself with the right people, then the transition can go really smooth for you.”

In Gilbert’s two years as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for USF, the Bulls put up good numbers. In 2017, USF averaged 513 yards and 38.3 points per game. In 2018, the Bulls started 7-0 before losing their last five games of the season. In the first seven games they averaged 35.5 points per game; in the last five, that number dropped to 20.2.

Nathan Bond, the co-managing editor for The Daily Stampede — SB Nation’s USF blog — said he believes that there were multiple reasons for the offense’s decline in production.

“The last five games have just been a microcosm of the last two years with the offense under Sterlin Gilbert,” Bond said. “He seems like a nice enough guy, he just wasn’t the right fit here. USF started 7-0 and then lost five straight, but if you look at who they played those first seven games, you played a (1-11) UConn and USF had to recover an onside kick to beat them. It took a last-second field against (3-9) Tulsa. There was just no imaginative play-calling. Players seemed visibly upset and disinterested the last half of the season just because it was the same thing over and over again.”

Gilbert is a disciple of the “Veer-and-Shoot” offense that former Baylor head coach Art Briles made famous. In Gilbert’s seven years as an offensive coordinator at five schools, the offenses have never finished worse than 41st in the country in total offense.

Despite that, Bond said he believes that USF’s prolific 2017 season on offense was more to do with the players on the team — such as 2017 second-team all-American Athletic Conference quarterback Quinton Flowers and current Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling — and less to do with Gilbert.

Bond also said the best type of quarterback in Gilbert’s system is one with a strong arm. McNeese returns three quarterbacks who took a snap last season (Cody Orgeron, Cam Smith, and Matt Keller); the three combined to throw 92 passes, 90 of which came from Orgeron’s arm.

When asked if he could come up with any positives from Gilbert’s tenure at USF, Bond did. But even then, another coach was brought up.

“The UConn game (in 2017,” Bond said. “It was right after the Houston loss. And it seemed like he incorporated a lot of the stuff that (current Florida State head coach) Willie Taggart did that made the offense so potent. And then after that game we didn’t see that anymore. Between that, and maybe UCF (in 2017), I think those were his two best called games. I think the offense really flowed. It seemed like the team was actually having fun during those two games.”

It is not yet known if Gilbert will call his own offensive plays at McNeese. Whether he does or not, Bond said he believes that Gilbert will have to be more willing to adjust things to succeed as Cowboys head coach.

“He’s going to have to be more open to changes,” Bond said. “But from what I gathered, he didn’t really call a great game, speaking with players. If he can scheme to personnel, I think he’ll be fine.”””

Sterlin Gilbert, new head football coach, speaks at the McNeese introductory press conference Friday, Dec. 7, 2018 at the at Jack V. Doland Fieldhouse.

DavidBerryMcNeese Sports Reporter
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