In four seasons as the defensive coordinator at ULM, Troy Reffett has laid the groundwork for a future of aggressive and attacking defenses. Reffett made the move from coaching linebackers to cornerbacks prior to the team’s appearance in the 2012 AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl and Reffett will hold that position in 2013.
In Reffett’s first 49 games in charge of the defense, the Warhawks have forced 88 turnovers and at least one in 45 of the 49 contests. The attacking defense has also recorded 99 sacks and 274 tackles for loss -- ULM had a sack in 23 straight games under Reffett.
Under Reffett’s direction, the 2012 Warhawk defense led the Sun Belt in interceptions (16) and ranked 20th in the NCAA. Meanwhile, ULM finished third in the conference and 39th nationally in rushing defense (142.2 ypg). The squad also finished third in the Sun Belt and 33rd nationally in turnover margin (.54). The Warhawk defense held four opponents below 100 rushing yards during the season (Arkansas, 96; Tulane, -9; Middle Tennessee, 69; Florida Atlantic, 69). Three Warhawks earned All-Sun Belt honors after the team’s record setting season in 2012. Isaiah Newsome and R.J. Young earned second team accolades, while DaCorris Ford was tabbed honorable mention.
In 2011, the Warhawk defense finished ranked number one in the Sun Belt in both rushing defense (100.0 ypg) and total defense (326.2 ypg). The 100.0 rushing yards per game was a new Sun Belt record and it marked the third season in a row that ULM led the conference in rush defense. The club finished tied for third in the conference in sacks with 28.
In the final NCAA rankings the Warhawk defense finished eighth in rushing defense and 21st in total defense (326.2 ypg). The squad also finished 47th in total sacks (2.08 per game). A total of four defensive players (Ken Dorsey, Darius Prelow, Jason Edwards and Troy Evans) earned All-Sun Belt honors.
In Reffett’s first season in charge of the Warhawk defense, the unit was the best in the Sun Belt Conference against the run (110.1 ypg) and the second best in total defense (347.0). The Warhawks were the third-best scoring defense in the league allowing 27.3 points per game -- an improvement of nearly four points per game from 2008.
The Warhawks finished 20th in the NCAA against the run just one season after ranking 112th -- the Reffett-led defense allowed 102.6 fewer yards per game on the ground in 2009 compared to 2008. The Warhawks also ranked 41st in sacks (a 67 spot improvement from 2008), 44th in total defense (a 65 spot improvement from 2008) and 45th in pass efficiency defense (a 43 spot improvement from 2008).
ULM posted the NCAA’s second best defensive turnaround from 2008 to 2009 as it improved by 97.7 yards of total defense between the two seasons -- only Kansas State (139.2 yards) had a better turnaround. Reffett was one of just 34 coaches in the country to be on the final nomination list for the Frank Broyles Award which is presented to the top assistant coach in the NCAA as five of his defensive players earned All-Sun Belt honors. Linebacker Cardia Jackson was named Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year after breaking the league’s career tackles record. He went on to sign a free agent contact with the NFL’s St. Louis Rams. Safety Greg James also broke a SBC record as he set the league’s and ULM’s career interception mark.
Running Reffett’s 3-3-5 defensive scheme, ULM recorded 27 sacks as a team (14 more than 2008) -- a new record during its tenure in the Sun Belt. Aaron Morgan led the Sun Belt and finished 25th in the NCAA in sacks and went on to sign a free agent contact with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. The attacking style of play led to the Warhawks forcing 23 turnovers in 2009, up from 16 in 2008. The Warhawks finished the 2009 season ranked 12th in the NCAA is passes defended and tied for 18th after allowing just nine runs of 20 yards or more.
His second season saw a trio of all-conference selections -- Cameron Blakes, Ken Dorsey, Darius Prelow -- and another solid defensive campaign. The Warhawks led the Sun Belt for the second straight year against the run (159.1) and ranked second overall (378.3) -- taking out a pair of games against BCS Bowl participants (Auburn & Arkansas) the Warhawks allowed just 353.6 yards per game.
Prior to joining the ULM staff, Reffett spent five seasons at New Mexico beginning in 2004 where he coached the Lobos cornerbacks -- he was promoted to defensive coordinator prior to the 2008 season. He mentored DeAndre Wright and Glover Quin and the pair earned first team All-MWC honors in the final two seasons under Reffett’s guidance. Quin was a fourth round selection by the Houston Texans in the 2009 NFL Draft and Wright was a sixth round selection by the New York Giants in the same draft. In addition to Jackson and Morgan, Reffett has worked with David Terrell, who was taken in the seventh round of the 1998 NFL Draft by Washington, as well as Michael Hicks and Crance Clemons, free agent signees by Dallas and Detroit, respectively.
In his first season as the Lobos’ defensive coordinator, New Mexico ranked 26th nationally in rush defense and in the top 50 in both total defense and scoring defense. His 2004 cornerback tandem was possibly one the best in school history. Brandon Payne was a second team All-America selection by the Walter Camp Football Foundation after leading the nation in passes defended (23) and tying for the league lead with six interceptions. Payne also set a school record with 17 pass deflections. Reffett came to New Mexico after spending 14 seasons at UTEP, including 2002 and ‘03 as the Miners’ defensive coordinator under head coach Gary Nord. Reffett also tutored UTEP’s cornerbacks and free safeties. After graduating from UTEP with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1990, Reffett immediately joined the UTEP coaching staff as a graduate assistant. Following the completion of his master’s degree in education in 1992, he was hired full time to coach the outside linebackers from 1993-96 and the defensive backs from 1997-01.
In Reffett’s first year as defensive coordinator (2002), D.J. Walker led the Western Athletic Conference in stops and ranked sixth in the country in solo tackles. UTEP ranked first in the WAC and 21st in the nation in pass defense in 2001 as opponents completed a league-low 49.6 percent of their passes. It marked the first time in 30 years that UTEP held the opposition to less than 50 percent completion percentage in consecutive seasons.
Reffett came to UTEP in 1985 as a walk-on and two years later, as a junior he helped the Miners to a 10-2 record, including an Independence Bowl berth. His playing career at UTEP was highlighted by academic and athletic superlatives. As a junior and senior he was named a WAC Scholar Athlete and to the WAC All-Academic team, and was recognized as the team’s Defensive Back of the Year.
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