Five possible candidates to be the next defensive coordinator at SFA

Photo courtesy SFA Athletics

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Stephen F. Austin will have a different defensive coordinator for the third consecutive season when the 2023 season begins after Joe Cauthen left for the same position at FBS Utah State.

The good news for SFA coach Colby Carthel is that his last two defensive coordinators are in the FBS. The bad news is the Lumberjacks defense is about to experience another transition in leadership. The ‘Jacks defense struggled at the beginning of last season before helping lead SFA to the WAC title.

Where does Carthel look for his next defensive coordinator? Time is of the essence, with SFA scheduled to begin its spring practice on March 20. Here’s a look at five names that could surface during the ‘Jacks search.

Justin Deason - New Braunfels Canyon assistant

Carthel is very familiar with Deason, who spent four years as Carthel’s defensive coordinator at Texas A&M-Commerce and helped lead the Lions to the 2017 NCAA Division II national title. Deason arrived at UIW before the 2018 season and helped the Cardinals to the program’s first Southland Conference title and an appearance in the FCS playoffs. Deason’s defenses are known for leading the nation in creating turnovers at every level he’s coached, and a reunion with Carthel may not be out of the question.

Caid Faske - Colorado State-Pueblo defensive coordinator

Faske has a relationship with Carthel that dates back to his days at West Texas A&M. A native of Bushland, Faske was defensive line coach for Carthel at A&M-Commerce and followed the head coach to SFA in 2018.  He served as defensive ends coach for the ‘Jacks before accepting the defensive coordinator position at Colorado State-Pueblo in January. Carthel was glad to see his protege earn a chance with the Thunderwolves. However, Faske could be the choice if Carthel believes he’s ready to lead an FCS defense. Faske could be the choice if Carthel seeks consistency and a coach that might remain for a few years.

Adam Clark - Angelo State defensive coordinator

Clark may not have a direct connection to Carthel, but the Angelo State defensive coordinator is highly thought of throughout the Division II ranks. Clark was head coach at Western New Mexico while Carthel was at A&M-Commerce. Clark spent the 2018 season at Tarleton as assistant head coach, defensive line coach, and special teams coordinator for a Texans team that eliminated the Carthel-led Lions from the 2018 playoffs. Clark has been with the Rams since 2019 and has turned the ASU defense into one of the top defenses in Division II. During Clark’s tenure, the Rams have advanced to the quarterfinals and semifinals of the Division II playoffs the last two seasons.

Phil Bennett - Former North Texas defensive coordinator

Bennett may seem like an outside-the-box hire considering his coaching career has been at the FBS level except for one season at MacArthur High School. However, Cauthen had spent the previous 11 seasons at an FBS school until he accepted the defensive coordinator job with SFA. It’s not out of the realm of possibility to see Bennett in Nacogdoches next season after spending the last two years at North Texas. He has spent much of his coaching career in Texas, and the lure of remaining in this great state with the Lumberjacks is possible.

Zac Spavital - Former Texas State defensive coordinator

Another former defensive coordinator from the Texas FBS ranks, Spavital remains available after spending the last four years as defensive coordinator at Texas State. A native of Tulsa, Okla., Spavital has spent much of his coaching career in Texas with stops at Houston (seven seasons), Texas Tech (four seasons), and the Bobcats. He also served as a graduate assistant coach at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops for three years before joining the Cougars. SFA has plenty of talent on the defensive side of the ball, and Spavital could be the ingredient needed to push the Lumberjacks back into the FCS playoffs.

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