11 first-time play-callers: How are they doing?
Posted by: Chris Vannini on October 30, 2012
There are 11 first-time play-callers in D1 college football this season. Today, I decided to take a look at how each coach is doing.
Matt Wells (Utah State - offensive coordinator) - Utah State is 7-2 and averaging 31 points per game. The Aggies lost 16-14 at Wisconsin and 6-3 at BYU. Gary Andersen's team finished with Texas State, at LA Tech, and Idaho. If Utah State win the WAC, Wells will deserve his share of credit.
Lou Spanos (UCLA - defensive coordinator) - UCLA is quietly 6-2. Spanos' defense limited Houston to 6 points, made enough plays to beat Nebraska, and held Utah to 14 points. The Bruins are allowing the same exact amount of yards per game as a year ago, but the scoring defense has improved from 31 ppg to 25 ppg this season.They have a chance to win the Pac-12 South, but they'll be tested with games against Arizona, Washington State, USC and Stanford coming up.
Luke Fickell (Ohio State - defensive coordinator) - The Ohio State defense has had its struggles this season. Who cares? The bottom line... the Buckeyes are 9-0. That's what matters. Against Penn State, the unit allowed just 10 points through three quarters and returned an interception for a touchdown. The biggest problem has been big plays. The Buckeyes have allowed 20 plays of 30-plus yards and eight of 50-plus yards, which is near the bottom of the country.
Charlton Warren (Air Force - defensive coordinator) - While the yardage allowed has increased from 2011 to 2012, the Falcon defense has moved up from No. 72 from No. 65 in scoring defense, averaging 27.5 points allowed per game. The Falcons nearly won at Michigan early in the season, but there was just one player they couldn't stop - Denard Robinson, who actually accounted for more yards on his own (426) than his offense in total (422). Air Force is 5-3 with trips remaining to Army, San Diego State, and Fresno State. The Falcons also host Hawaii.
Jarrett Anderson (TCU - co-offensive coordinator) - Despite losing his starting quarterback in early October due to off-the-field issues, the Horned Frogs' passing attack has gone from No. 64 (231.6 yards per game) in 2011 to No. 44 (263.0 yards per game). The rushing attack also lost its top player early in the season, but that hasn't been able to recover. TCU is 5-3, but the schedule is tough from here on out. TCU plays at West Virginia, K-State, at Texas, and Oklahoma.
Brian Johnson (Utah - offensive coordinator) - Despite losing starting quarterback Jordan Wynn early in the season, the Utes passing offense is averaging 20 yards more per game from last year, while most of the offensive rankings are similar to last season, it's a positive that Utah didn't lose a step on offense with the youngest coordinator in major college football. Utah is 3-5, but the remaining schedule looks favorable with Wazzu, Washington, Arizona, and Colorado in the next month.
Barry Odom (Memphis - defensive coordinator) - The Tigers defense has taken a step forward under Odom, moving up from No. 117 in total defense in 2011 to No. 87 in 2012, allowing about 70 fewer yards per game. Memphis is just 1-7. The offense is currently 117th nationally in scoring offense and 119th nationally in total offense, so that doesn't help Odom. However, there is optimism around the program as first-year head coach Justin Fuente rebuilds this program.
Lionel Washington (Tulane - defensive coordinator) - The Green Wave defense had some troubles this season. Losing its best player, Trent Mackey, before the season didn't help. Tulane is 2-6, but has played much better as of late with wins over SMU and UAB. The Green Wave is allowing 38 points per game, but there is great optimism about the future considering the way Tulane is attacking recruiting.
JD Williams (UNLV - defensive coordinator) - A year ago, UNLV allowed 40 points per game. This season, that total is down to 34 points per game. Bobby Hauck's team is 1-8, but has been substantially more competitive than a year ago.
Reggie Johnson (UAB - defensive coordinator) - It is certainly a tall task turning around the UAB defense, which may have been the worst in the country in 2011. UAB is currently 1-7 and allowing 38 points per game. The Blazers must still face Southern Miss, Marshall, Memphis, and UCF.
Jason Gesser (Idaho - interim head coach) - It has been a tough season for the Vandals, who dismissed Robb Akey a few weeks ago and promoted Gesser to interim head coach. Here's how Gesser (33) reacted to the promotion to interim head coach.
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Chris Vannini is the lead writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and MLive.com. He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to email@example.com