Photo courtesy of Athletic Communications
Coaching special teams may be new to coach Doug McFadden this year, but he is certainly not new to the players and atmosphere surrounding Lafayette football.
McFadden has been the defensive backs coach at Lafayette for the past five years. This offseason though, Head Coach Frank Tavani decided to promote McFadden to special teams coordinator, while still maintaining his position as defensive backs coach.
The only major adjustment, at least according to McFadden, has been watching tape and researching the four phases of special teams: kickoffs, kickoff returns, punts and punt returns.
“He is a very dedicated coach who is fun to be around, but when it’s time to get down to business he wants to get the job done and execute,” cornerback Randall Logan ‘14 said.
The Columbia, S.C. native has 12 years of coaching experience, beginning after his graduation from Southwest Baptist University. There, he played cornerback and was a NCAA Division II All-Star in 1999 and an All Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association selection in 1998.
His position coach, Shawn Mennenga, offered him a position as the secondary coach at Hutchinson Community College. Mennenga is currently with the Cleveland Browns of the NFL as a special teams assistant.
Before coming to Lafayette five seasons ago, McFadden and Mennenga reunited at Fort Hays University in Kansas where McFadden served as special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach for four years.
McFadden reaches back to his playing style in the secondary to coach his current players.
“I was a small cornerback in college and I used a lot of fundamentals,” McFadden said. “And to me that’s the biggest thing within sports – fundamentals. I think you have to have a good foundation to be successful and that’s what I’m trying to coach.”
Lafayette (0-3) is certainly not off to the start it expected. Positives though lay within the McFadden’s two areas of coaching. The Leopards have limited their opponents to 179.7 passing yards per game, ranking 30th in the FCS.
“I’m not happy with those numbers,” McFadden said. “In the secondary I don’t think that we are playing to our full potential.”
Those numbers will improve when playmakers Shane Black ‘15 and Jared Roberts ‘14 return to the secondary.
The special teams unit has provided even more of a spark this season – the return unit has averaged 26.9 yards per kickoff return, which ranks tenth in the FCS.
“With the kickoff returns, I have been pleased with where we are,” McFadden said. “I’ve been disappointed because I think we’ve missed a few blocks here and there; we can be better. The more we play, the better we get at it. We can continue to improve those numbers.”
Best of all is the punt unit which has limited opposing return teams to just three yards per return, a statistic which ties for 25th among FCS teams.
“I have been pleased with that statistic because we’re a traditional style punt team whereas now, you see college football teams in shield punt formation with multiple guys running down the field to defend the return,” McFadden said. “I think our freshman punter Ryan Forrester has done a good job of getting the ball in the air, giving our gunners a chance to get down and field the returns.”
With a wealth of young talent to coach, McFadden is excited for the near future.
“I think we have some pretty good young football players,” McFadden said. “I’m excited about this weekend. I think that the bye week has helped guys get healthy. We have one senior in the secondary, so everyone else has an opportunity to come back and play next year.”
One of those players, Damarcus Ingram ‘15, looks forward to playing under McFadden.
“He is a very passionate coach that brings out the best in everybody.”