What's next for South Carolina's offense?

The State's Josh Kendall and Ben Breiner discuss the state of the South Carolina football team's offense.
By
The State's Josh Kendall and Ben Breiner discuss the state of the South Carolina football team's offense.
By

College Sports

South Carolina football: Some offensive coordinator names to think about

By Ben Breiner

bbreiner@thestate.com

December 06, 2017 10:36 AM

When there’s a crucial opening on a college football staff, like say South Carolina’s offensive coordinator position, it comes time to speculate about names.

Offensive coordinators are a little trickier to throw names out for, primarily because they can’t be credited with overall records or big turnaround jobs. Some of the best ones (Chad Morris, Joe Moorhead) come out of left field. It’s often hard to separate a good offensive head coach’s work from his coordinators.

The big question for USC will be, does Will Muschamp bring in someone who will run a hurry-up no-huddle attack, potentially exposing a still-thin defense in a big way? He’s talked about wanting a balanced attack that complements the defense, but the roster of up-and-coming OCs that don’t run high tempo is shrinking.

So these are some of the names that could be interesting to imagine if they were to come to Columbia.

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Muschamp connection (With current job)

Eddie Gran, Kentucky

Experienced coach known for building offenses to fit his talent and with a strong recruiting background. His Cincinnati offenses were dynamic and he built 2016 Kentucky into a power-running spread on the fly, but his last offense was so-so. He coached with Will Muschamp at Auburn in the mid-2000s.

Noel Mazzone, formerly Texas A&M

A veteran hand who has done a little of this and a little of that almost everywhere. He's known for running solid offenses and would be a steady presence, but also experienced some of the same backlash Roper did when he was at UCLA. Worked for Tommy Tuberville, who had Muschamp for a defensive coordinator for several years.

Rhett Lashlee, UConn

His profile was high because of his start at Auburn under Gus Malzahn, and Lashlee worked with Muschamp in 2015. Lashlee last two offenses were not great, and his first UConn offense improved numbers by playing faster more than being more effective. Tied to Malzahn's versatile, run-heavy scheme, and just how fast USC is aiming to go remains a question.

Maybe popular names

Phil Longo, Ole Miss

Considered an offensive wizard coming out of Sam Houston State, he did good things with some talent in a highly unstable Ole Miss situation. His lone season produced the No. 11 team in the country in yards per play despite losing Shea Patterson mid-season. New Rebels coach Matt Luke has a lot of money to pay his assistants, and Longo could be a hot candidate. He also worked with Gamecocks offensive line coach Eric Wolford at Youngstown State.

Eliah Drinkwitz, N.C. State

If he was available, a nice balance between proven and potentially able to fit what Will Muschamp might want. He’s learned under Auburn’s Gus Malzahn current Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin, which means a mix or power spread with a little pro-style influence. His N.C. State offenses combined efficient passing and explosive running and some of the balance and mid-level pace that could appeal to a defensive head coach (his one Boise offense was super fast and pass-heavy). Throw in the fact he was paid nearly $250,000 less than Roper was, and it could get interesting.

In-house

Bryan McClendon, South Carolina WR coach/co-OC or Bobby Bentley, South Carolina RB coach

Both would be interesting names for different reasons. McClendon would seem like the next in line as the man currently holding a co-coordinator title and will call plays in the bowl game. Bentley was legendary for his high school offenses at Byrnes. The hurdle for either might be when a coach is pushed out for a unit being ineffective, it’s not often one of the other assistants takes over.

Some interesting names

Brian Wright, Toledo

More a fan favorite than anything else, but he's a guy with a more complicated resume that one first sees. At the start, he looks like a guy who works for a guy who took over for a guy, part of the succession of Toledo offensive coordinators that produced Matt Campbell (turned around Iowa State) and Jason Candle (20-6 succeeding Campbell). But Wright was also part of dynamic FCS offenses at Montana State and has a Southeast connection with an odd stint that spanned the ill-fated Carl Pelini and Charlie Partridge eras at Florida Atlantic. In any case, Toledo's offense has averaged more than 7.1 yards a play his his two seasons.

Dan Werner, Alabama analyst

One of the architects of Ole Miss’ prolific offense before Longo was brought in, Werner oversaw an attack that posted 6,731 total yards in 2015. He played a role in developing Chad Kelly and Bo Wallace. He was also quarterbacks coach on several great Miami team and spent time in the FCS ranks. There’s a slight connection through Nick Saban. He did notably speak out in defense of former Rebels coach Hugh Freeze before the NCAA came down on Ole Miss.

Warren Ruggiero, Wake Forest

The numbers are dragged down by the Wake Forest thing, a little like the OC version of turnaround specialist coaches having uninspiring records. But the Demon Deacons are up to 33 points a game, and that’s stunning considering where that group was three years ago. It’s worth noting, the offenses he had at the end of Bowling Green, at Kansas State and even on the FCS level have all been pretty interesting.

Jake Spavital, West Virginia

The young (32) West Virginia coordinator has five seasons running an offense under his belt, including three at Texas A&M in the SEC. A Dana Holgorsen disciple, Spavital has built good offenses the past couple seasons, but neither has been as balanced as Will Muschamp said he wants.