Is Archer the Guy?

NC State is looking to fill a trio of openings after it was reported that six of Tom O'Brien's coaches at Boston College will join him in Raleigh. With the defensive coordinator position open, Kentucky defensive coordinator Mike Archer is a coach to keep an eye on.

Mike Archer, currently defensive coordinator of the University of Kentucky, brings a lot of years of coaching experience, both as a coordinator and a head coach.

Archer was born in State College, Pa. and attended the University of Miami. After his college years Archer served as a graduate assistant and then defensive backs coach at Miami from 1976-1983. He took the same position at LSU in 1984, and was soon promoted to defensive coordinator. In the three years Archer served as a defensive coach at LSU, the Tigers surrendered an average of 15 points per game and won a very high percentage of their games.

After the departure of head coach Bill Arnsparger, Archer was promoted to head coach - the youngest in the nation at that time. In his first season LSU finished with a 10-1-1 record and a Gator Bowl victory over South Carolina. In 1988 the Tigers finished 8-4, claiming a share of the SEC title and recording some quality wins.

Archer's last two seasons at LSU were rough. As talent left the program, the Tigers slumped to 4-7 in 1989 and 5-6 in 1990. That was Archer's last season in town.

He coached linebackers at the University of Virginia the following season before taking the same position at Kentucky the year after. It was at this time that Archer and O'Brien worked together in Charlottesville.

From 1993-1995 Archer served his first stint as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Kentucky. In his first season the Wildcats defense improved dramatically, surrendering 17 points per game and just 14 to Clemson in a close Peach Bowl loss. Kentucky held eight opponents to 17 points or fewer in 1993. After a disastrous 1994 season, Archer's defense bounced back. While the Cats allowed some points in 1995, the offense put the defense in bad situations. SEC opponents with superior talent were simply too much at times.

From 1996-2002 Archer coached the linebackers for the Pittsburgh Steelers, helping the franchise make four playoff appearances. During his stay in Pittsburgh, Jason Gildon and Levon Kirkland were two-time Pro Bowl selections; Chad Brown and Joey Porter were named to the Pro Bowl one year each; and Kendrell Bell was named National Football League Defensive Rookie of the Year. Pittsburgh led the NFL in rushing defense in 2002 and the Steelers won four divisional championships during Archer's term with the team.

He took the 3-4 back to Kentucky in 2003, where he would serve as defensive coordinator in Lexington for a second time.

Mike Archer joined former Oregon and St. Louis Rams head coach Rich Brooks at Kentucky after the Hal Mumme regime had left the Wildcat program devastated by probation. Scholarship restrictions had left the roster bare, though for one year some talent remained. Archer's 2003 defense was spearheaded by first-round draft pick Dewayne Robertson and was respectable for most of the year. If you take out UK's 71-63 seven overtime loss to Arkansas, the Cats allowed just more than 22 points on the year.

The effects of probation have been apparent since, with UK only recently beginning to completely fill out their depth chart. In 2006 Kentucky finished 118th out of 119 teams in the nation in total defense, but there's more than meets the eye. UK losses were to Louisville, Florida, LSU, South Carolina and Tennessee - all teams with the ability to score a lot of points on anyone.

Archer's defense improved at the end of the year, allowing just 330 yards and 17 points to Tennessee in Neyland Stadium, and holding Clemson's running back duo of James Davis and C.J. Spiller to just 77 yards. The young Wildcats also forced 28 turnovers on the year. The bend but don't break approach gave up a lot of yardage, but allowed UK to finish 8-5 with a victory in the Music City Bowl.

Archer is considered a very good recruiter. He has ties to Pennsylvania and Florida, and he also recruits nationally, more specifically the state of Louisiana.

Pack Pride's Take: Archer would bring a lot of experience to the NC State coaching staff. He's served in a variety of capacities, both in college and the NFL, and he has head coaching experience at the highest level, always a positive.

He showed flexibility recently, scrapping the 3-4 for the 4-3 to better fit the personnel of the Kentucky defense. It's hard to hold the 2003-2006 seasons against the current UK coaching staff, including Archer, considering the severity of the probation from the Mumme era.

Despite the numbers on paper, a lot of Kentucky fans feel next year's defensive squad could be very, very good. When you consider the late-season improvements and the returning starters, Kentucky has high hopes entering 2007.

Archer has helped UK improve on the recruiting trails, hauling in good talent from across the south. With more talent and experience at NC State, his experience could pay off big for Tom O'Brien and the Pack. Time will only tell if this will happen, but the connections are there, and we believe Archer is a serious candidate.

With that being said, Archer could be feeling that something special is being built at Kentucky and he might want to stick around and work with coach Brooks.

Justin Rowland and University of Kentucky Athletics contributed information to this report.

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