GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Offensive ineptitude has been a recurring theme for Florida football as of late, and it at least in part resulted in the demise of each of the Gators’ last two coaches.
Just look at the last seven years. Under Will Muschamp (2011-2014) and Jim McElwain (2015-2017), the Gators haven’t finished a season higher than 96th nationally in yards per game, and cracked the top 70 in scoring offense just once. Both came in Muschamp’s final year in 2014. This season, the Gators are 112th nationally yards per game (338.1) and 114th in scoring offense (20.6 points/game).
All this again points to the main reason why the Gators need to look for offensive-minded coach and why most of the top candidates being rumored for the job have a track record for offensive success.
Here’s a look at how those coaches have fared 10 weeks into the 2017 season.
UCF’s Scott Frost
We’ve talked about it before, but what Scott Frost has done at UCF this season is nothing short of incredible.
In the second year with Frost at the helm of the program, UCF leads the country in scoring offense with a staggering 48.5 points per game and are fifth nationally in total offense (540.4 yards/game).
This is just two years after the Knights averaged 13.9 points per game and eclipsed 17 points just once.
Memphis’ Mike Norvell
Mike Norvell took over a good situation at Memphis when he accepted the job in 2016. The program was already on the rise under former coach Justin Fuente — now at Virginia Tech (we’ll get to him momentarily) — but Norvell has kept the program’s high-octane offense running.
The Tigers are 11th nationally in yards per game (502.9) and sixth in scoring (42.3). Quarterback Riley Ferguson has impressed this season. He is eighth nationally in passing yards per game (320.1) with 27 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions. He has thrown at least 3 touchdowns in five of nine games.
Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente
The Hokies are 42nd nationally in total offense (430.1 yards/game) and 37th in scoring (32.6 points/game) in their second year under the direction of Justin Fuente. Considering where the program’s offense was prior to his arrival in 2016 — Virginia Tech ranked 74th in 2015, 99th in 2014 and 102nd in 2013 — being in the top 50 while already facing top defenses in Miami and Clemson is something to recognize.
Fuente’s starting quarterback this season, redshirt freshman Josh Jackson, is completing 62.2 percent of his passes and has thrown for 2,229 yards and 17 touchdowns in nine games. His 247.7 passing yards per game ranks 36th nationally.
Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen
Dan Mullen has the Mississippi State Bulldogs ranked in the top-50 in total offense for the sixth time in the last eight years with four games left in the year. All told, the Bulldogs rank 43rd in the country with an average of 428.8 yards per game and 31st in scoring (33.9 points/game).
Outside of a pair of subpar seasons in 2011 and 2012 when Mississippi State ranked in the 80s offensively, Mullen has consistently had the Bulldogs in the upper tier of college football offenses despite facing an SEC gauntlet each year.
Oregon’s Willie Taggart
The Oregon Ducks are 44th nationally in total offense (428.7 yards/game) and 40th in scoring offense (32.3 points/game) in Willie Taggart’s first season out west.
However, the numbers took a considerable decline over the past five after starting quarterback Justin Herbert suffered a fractured collarbone. In the first five games with Herbert under center, Oregon averaged 537.4 yards and 49.6 points. The Ducks went 4-1 in that stretch.
But in five games without Herbert, Oregon is 1-4 and averaging 320 yards and 15 points.
Taggart also fielded top-35 offenses in his final two seasons at USF.
Iowa State’s Matt Campbell
In Matt Campbell’s second season, Iowa State is only ranked 87th nationally in total offense, averaging 378.7 yards per game, but the Cyclones are 50th with 30.6 points per game.
However, Campbell has a reputation for building quality offenses from his time at Toledo. In his final five years with the Rockets — including a four-year run as head coach — Toledo finished in the top-40 offensively, highlighted by being tied for ninth in 2011.
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