The Curt Locker: A coaching change may be on the horizon

State Hornet Staff

After getting trounced by cross-town rival UC Davis 34-7 in the annual Causeway Classic, some people may have been calling for the firing of Sacramento State football head coach Marshall Sperbeck.

Sperbeck has done a commendable job since joining the team in 2007. He has a career record of 35-42 and finished the 2013 season 5-7 overall and 4-4 in the Big Sky Conference.

Although not having a marquee win this season like he had done 2011 against Oregon State and in 2012 against Colorado, Sperbeck managed to keep his team in games against Football Championship Subdivision top-25 opponents.

In the three losses against FCS 2013 tournament teams – Southern Utah, Northern Arizona and Montana – the Hornets held leads of eight, 17 and seven respectively, late in those games, which were all at home. The Hornets just couldn’t finish, losing twice in overtime.

Not all of this is Sperbeck’s fault. Yes, the head coach is responsible for keeping his team disciplined to win these type of games, but when the defense gives up 446.9 yards per game, you can’t help but look at a change on the defensive side.

With playmakers like senior linebacker Todd Davis and sophomore defensive end Darnell Sankey, this team should have been able to pressure the quarterback and stop the run efficiently. Sac State had trouble getting after the quarterback only posting 21 sacks compared to 2012 in which it tallied 33. 

This gave ample time for opposing offenses to survey the defense and find targets deep down field. It also didn’t help that defensive backs would often play really far off the line and opposing wide receivers would slant across the middle and get first downs at will. The defense gave up 131 first downs through the air this season.

Maybe the attention should be turned toward the defensive coaching. Defensive coordinator Anthony Parker has been in the position since 2010 and began his tenure with a bang finishing the season third in the Big Sky in total defense.

But in his fourth season, the Hornets seemed to struggle mightily on the defensive side of the ball ranking near the bottom of the Big Sky in nearly every team defensive category.

This is where the change needs to come. With Davis and five other seniors on the defensive side that played in over 10 games this season leaving, the 2014 Hornets will feature a lot of young players with not much starting experience.

It’s hard to see an improvement next year after giving up 34 points or more in the final four games of the season. With help from the Hornets high-powered offense, Sac State went 2-2 during that span.

Parker’s job should at least be under review, or the entire scheme needs to be changed.

Sperbeck, who also coaches up the wide receivers, has done a great job with the handling of receivers like senior Morris Norrise and junior DeAndre Carter. Norrise and Carter finished the season with 145 combined receptions and 18 touchdowns.   

Sperbeck needs one more season to prove what he could do with another year of having a talented offense led by junior quarterback Garrett Safron and Carter.