Co­or­di­na­tors have chance to shine

Some will pro­duce a ma­jor im­pact on their teams, sea­son over­all

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Ralph D. Russo

As ma­jor col­lege foot­ball pro­grams grow in size and com­plex­ity, the most im­por­tant job a head coach has is hir­ing tal­ented as­sis­tants and staff mem­bers.

Co­or­di­na­tors are es­pe­cially piv­otal be­cause they of­ten op­er­ate with near au­ton­omy — es­pe­cially when their ex­per­tise dif­fers with that of the head coach. A good co­or­di­na­tor hire can change the tra­jec­tory of a pro­gram.

A few head coaches are bank­ing on that this sea­son. These new co­or­di­na­tors could have a ma­jor im­pact on not just their teams but the en­tire col­lege foot­ball sea­son.

KEN­DAL BRILES, of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, Florida State: Coach Wil­lie Tag­gart drew some scru­tiny for hir­ing Briles, who worked for his father, Art, at Bay­lor as that school went through a bruis­ing scan­dal tied to sex­ual as­sault ac­cu­sa­tions.

There is no ques­tion­ing the move based on pre­vi­ous on-field re­sults. At Bay­lor, FAU and Hous­ton, Ken­dal Briles’ of­fenses have put up big num­bers. He will have to work around a de­fi­cient of­fen­sive line, but if the of­fense clicks, Tag­gart’s sec­ond year in Tal­la­has­see should be much bet­ter than his first.

DAN ENOS, of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor/quar­ter­backs coach, Mi­ami: New coach Manny Diaz calls lur­ing Enos from Alabama the most im­por­tant trans­fer he landed this off­sea­son. Few teams have been so shack­led by poor quar­ter­back play the past cou­ple sea­sons. If Enos can turn ei­ther N’Kosi Perry, Tate Martell or Jar­ren Wil­liams into an aboveav­er­age QB, the Hur­ri­canes’ first year un­der for­mer de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Diaz could be a mem­o­rable one.

JOSH GAT­TIS, of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, Michi­gan: Gat­tis is per­haps the most in­trigu­ing new of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor in the coun­try as Jim Har­baugh seems to be ced­ing con­trol in fa­vor of a more mod­ern ap­proach.

It’s not as if the Wolver­ines weren’t run­ning spread el­e­ments and run-pass op­tions last sea­son with quar­ter­back Shea Pat­ter­son, but bring­ing in Gat­tis sug­gests a more im­mer­sive ap­proach. Con­sid­er­ing all the at­ten­tion and scru­tiny Har­baugh gets, how­ever this goes will ei­ther be viewed as a wild suc­cess or a spec­tac­u­lar fail­ure even if the reality is some­where in be­tween.

ALEX GRINCH, de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, Ok­la­homa: Grinch quickly built a rep­u­ta­tion for putting to­gether com­pet­i­tive de­fenses with­out a bunch of bluechip­pers at Wash­ing­ton State, then spent last year at Ohio State. He bounced to Ok­la­homa this off­sea­son as Lin­coln Riley tries to find a so­lu­tion to the Soon­ers’ lin­ger­ing de­fen­sive issues.

The core prob­lem in Norman seems to be tal­ent ac­qui­si­tion and de­vel­op­ment, which takes time to fix. Ok­la­homa hopes Grinch can clean up the missed tack­les and as­sign­ments and get the Soon­ers de­fense to re­spectable in 2019.

GRA­HAM HAR­RELL, of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor/quar­ter­backs coach, South­ern Cal­i­for­nia: Har­rell was Plan B for USC coach Clay Hel­ton when Kliff Kings­bury bailed on the Tro­jans OC job to be­come an NFL head coach. Har­rell gets to plug for­mer five-star re­cruit in JT Daniels into his ver­sion of the Air Raid. How well that works out could very well de­ter­mine if Hel­ton keeps his job.

GREG MAT­TI­SON and JEFF HAFLEY, co-de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tors, Ohio State: New Buck­eyes coach Ryan Day swiped Mat­ti­son from Michi­gan. One of the most re­spected de­fen­sive coaches in the coun­try, the 69-year-old Mat­ti­son now joins forces with the 40-year-old Hafley to re­make a de­fense that was maybe the worst in school his­tory last year.

Scheme tweaks in­clude the use of a promis­ing de­fen­sive back Shaun Wade in a safety/ line­backer hy­brid role.


Michi­gan of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Josh Gat­tis watches dur­ing the team’s an­nual spring game in Ann Ar­bor, Mich.

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