This is our Big10 edition discussing the new play-callers throughout the conference, the impact their scheme could have on that program at each position, their lineage and coaching tree, and some historical data on their most recent seasons. This article is less about projection and more about coaching trends for you to draw your own conclusions.
New OC: Graham Harrell
Previous HC/OC: Jeff Brohm
Influenced by: Mike Leach, Seth Littrell, Mike Gundy
2022: West Virginia OC; 2019-21 USC OC; 2016-18 North Texas OC; 2014-15 Washington State WR coach
First-year Purdue head coach Ryan Walters selected Graham Harrell as his OC. Harrell has a solid track record as a play-caller for fantasy output, but like Phil Longo, his offenses are rather simplistic. They tend to take advantage of weaker defenses and see a significant drop-off against the better defenses on their schedule.
Quarterback: Slight Downgrade
Brohm and Harrell QBs have put up comparable fantasy output and volume. Harrell has demonstrated an ability to involve the QB run game at times that Brohm hasn’t. The last two seasons of individual QB data are skewed on Harrell’s QBs due to players splitting reps because of injury and other various reasons, so total QB stats are listed below.
2022: 2500/18/12 pass; 75/244/6 rush
2021: 3519/21/13 pass
2020: Kedon Slovis: 20.5 ppg
Running Back: Push
Similar to Brohm, Harrell’s RB production was excellent at the G5 level and close to nonexistent at the P5 level. His last four seasons have yet to produce an RB with more than 156 carries. It is possible we would have seen CJ Donaldson reach 200+ carries if not for his injuries, but Harrell has used a split backfield for the most part recently.
2022: CJ Donaldson: RB55; 15 ppg (7 games)
2021: Keaontay Ingram: RB88; 14.6 ppg
2020: Vavae Malepeai: 10.5 ppg (5 games)
Wide Receiver/TE: Slight Downgrade
While Harrell’s system may be somewhat of a downgrade at WR as compared to Brohm’s system, it is certainly not a knock on what Harrell has produced at WR. Brohm is just simply an elite CFF producer at WR. Harrell is no slouch with guys like Rico Bussey Jr (WR24), Michael Pittman Jr (WR11), Tyler Vaughns, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Drake London. However, Harrell features the TE significantly less than what we have seen under Brohm.
2022: Bryce Ford-Wheaton: WR89; 11.7 ppg
2021: Drake London: WR2; 24.3 ppg (8 games)
2020: Amon-Ra St. Brown: WR24; 18.4 ppg (5 games)
Takeaways: Despite the coaching change, fundamentally, the scheme is relatively similar to what we saw under Brohm. The assets to invest in remain at QB/WR. Hudson Card has the tools to succeed in this system and could have some games similar to what we saw with Garrett Greene in 2022 at WVU. Beware of the schedule as Purdue faces its standard divisional foes but also has crossover games against Ohio State and Michigan in 2023.
New OC: Phil Longo
Previous OC: Bobby Engram
Influenced by: ?
2019-22 UNC OC; 2017-18 Ole Miss OC; 2014-16 Sam Houston State OC
Badger fans had dreams of a brand new era with Bobby Engram dialing up creative plays for Caleb Williams. Instead, the 2022 Badgers looked much the same brand of vanilla we’ve come to expect in Mad Town recently under Paul Chryst. New head coach Luke Fickell is promising change, and Longo is his man to shed light on a passing game that has been wandering in the dark for years.
Quarterback: Huge Upgrade
Longo has worked his magic with Jordan Ta’amu (QB29), Sam Howell, and Drake Maye. It is hard to envision a system upgrade greater than what Wisconsin has made. Longo is simply a top-ten CFF QB-producing play-caller. It is unlikely we see Howell and Maye numbers in year one at a more challenging defensive division than what he faced at UNC, but a massive upgrade nonetheless. Three of the last five seasons have seen Longo QBs go over 100 rush attempts, including 183 and 184 in the last two seasons for Howell and Maye.
2022: Drake Maye: QB2; 29.3 ppg
2021: Sam Howell: QB8; 28.4 ppg
2020: Sam Howell: QB16; 24.5 ppg
2019: Sam Howell: QB14; 23 ppg
Running Back: Slight Downgrade
Few, if any, programs have been consistently producing elite RB production like Wisconsin has over the years and most recently with Corey Clement, Jonathan Taylor, and Braelon Allen. More than 250 carries probably aren’t in the cards anymore, but Longo’s RBs have been uber-efficient in his system. Pace and scoring opportunities should increase and offset some of the decreased volume.
2022: Elijah Green: RB107; 14.3 ppg
2021: Ty Chandler: RB28; 16.9 ppg
2020: Javonte Williams: RB6; 26.3 ppg
2020: Michael Carter: RB18; 20.9 ppg
Wide Receiver/TE: Huge Upgrade
Wisconsin hasn’t had a single WR crack 1,000 yards since Longo became a P5 OC in 2017. Meanwhile, Longo has had seven go for 10,00+ over that same stretch. Twice he had multiple 1,000-yard WRs in the same season. Longo’s recent TE production is also on par with what we have seen from Wisconsin lately.
2022: Josh Downs: WR11; 19.6 ppg
2021: Josh Downs: WR14; 17.8 ppg
2020: Dyami Brown: WR12; 16.7 ppg
2020: Daz Newsome: WR34: 11.5 ppg
Takeaways: Tanner Mordecai steps up in competition but retains his value in this system. Don’t be surprised if he more than doubles his rush volume. Longo has benefited from walking into some talented WR rooms that he won’t have the benefit of in year one here. Wisconsin has done an admirable job flipping the WR room with the transfer additions of CJ Williams and Bryson Green. Don’t expect UNC-type stats in 2023 as Longo learns his personnel and the nuances of coaching against more challenging defenses in more challenging weather, but a major step in the right direction.
New Co-OCs: Matt Simon/Greg Harbaugh Jr.
Previous OC: Kirk Ciarrocca
Influenced by: Kirk Ciarrocca (Rutgers OC), Mike Sanford
2017-22 Minnesota co-OC and WRs coach; 2014-16 Western Michigan WR coach
Longtime PJ Fleck assistant, Kirk Ciarrocca, took the OC opening at Rutgers, thus promoting Matt Simon to lead play-caller and TE coach, Greg Harbaugh Jr (not related to Jim/John) to co-OC. Simon has worked under Fleck for almost a decade and is extremely familiar with this offense. He has a fantastic track record of developing WRs during his time at Minnesota and Western Michigan, developing guys like Corey Davis, Daniel Braverman, Tyler Johnson, and Rashod Bateman.
This is certainly a situation where we shouldn’t expect any systemic changes in what we have seen from the Gophers under Fleck. Simon has called plays in two bowl games that resulted in run-pass ratios of 42-30 and 47-13, so we can see the continued emphasis on the run game. The bigger issue probably lies in the change of personnel, with multi-year starters Tanner Morgan and Mo Ibrahim finally moving on. Identifying Ibrahim’s replacement will obviously be a high priority in drafts. Look for future articles and the CFF Guide addressing this. While the QB isn’t a position to target in standard drafts, the performance of Kaliakmanis or a future transfer QB will have a significant impact on the performance of an underrated WR room and the ceiling of the highly coveted Gopher RB1.
New OC: Marcus Satterfield
Previous OC: Mark Whipple
Influenced by: Matt Rhule; Phillip Fulmer
2012-22: South Carolina OC; 2020 Carolina Panthers OL coach; 2018-19 Baylor TE coach; 2016-17 Tennessee Tech Head Coach; 2013-15 Temple OC
New Husker head coach Matt Rhule returns to college football and is counting on his longtime assistant, Marcus Satterfield, to help him with the difficult task of returning Nebraska to its glory days. Many South Carolina faithful were less than impressed with the product Satterfield put on the field in Columbia outside of the last few games of 2022. He and Rhule certainly saw success together at Temple and Baylor.
Whipple did wonders with Kenny Pickett and did an admirable job with Casey Thompson. Rattler’s numbers were serviceable in 2022, but they were the worst of his three years as a starter. He had just 21 total TDs, and 11 of them came against Tennessee, Clemson, and Notre Dame when you would least expect it. 2021 was an abomination for the Gamecock QB room as nine players attempted a pass. Charlie Brewer was a rosterable fantasy asset when this staff worked together at Baylor.
2022: Spencer Rattler: QB60; 14.3 ppg
2021: Luke Doty: NR; 10.2 ppg
Running Back: Slight Upgrade
Despite some early season success of Anthony Grant, workhorse RBs have never been much of a thing with Whipple. It also hasn’t been a thing under Satterfield or Rhule. In fact, QB Charlie Brewer led Baylor in rushing in 2018 and 2019. Again, hard to predict when Satterfield’s RBs will produce, but they have been fairly efficient when given the opportunity and are involved in the passing game.
2022: Marshawn Lloyd: RB80; 16.4 ppg
2021: Zaquandre White: RB130; 11.4 ppg
2021: Kevin Harris: RB150; 8.7 ppg
Wide Receiver/TE: Downgrade
WR1 and TE1 under Whipple have been CFF stalwarts with the likes of Jordan Addison, Trey Palmer, and Lucas Krull. Josh Vann, Juice Wells, Denzel Mims (WR23), and Jalen Hurd all played very well under Satterfield and Rhule without a prolific passing game. Similar to DJ Moore under Rhule with Carolina. However, Tight ends Bell, Stogner, and Muse all underperformed expectations recently for Satterfield.
2022: Antwane Wells: WR41; 14 ppg
2021: Josh Vann: WR108; 9.5 ppg
Takeaways: Satterfield and Whipple had comparable results, but Satterfield brings an element of unpredictability. It’s hard to predict when and where the production comes from. Whipple consistently funneled his offense through just a few players. Satterfield may find success of his system more easily replicable in the B10 than Whipple did. But his time at South Carolina indicates CFF options may be more challenging to find in 2023.
New OC: Kirk Ciarrocca
Previous OC: Sean Gleeson
Influenced by: PJ Fleck
Coaching Tree: Matt Simon (Minnesota OC)
2022 Minnesota OC; 2021 WVU analyst; 2020 Penn State OC; 2017-19 Minnesota OC; 2013-16 Western Michigan OC; 2009-10 Rutgers co-OC
Greg Schiano and Kirk Ciarrocca will attempt to rekindle the fire they had together in 2009 when they paired up to lead Rutgers to a 9-4 season. Ciarrocca has coached all over Big Ten country, so we have a pretty extensive history to work with here.
Let’s not overthink this. You didn’t really want a Ciarrocca QB at Minnesota or Penn State. You aren’t going to want one at Rutgers in 2023. Maybe Wimsatt shows some progress and can become a Sean Clifford type in 2024, but that is probably best case scenario. You have to hope for elite efficiency like we saw with Zach Terrell (QB25) in 2016, because the volume is unlikely to be there.
2022: Tanner Morgan: NR; 12.3 ppg
2020: Sean Clifford: 18.2 ppg
2019: Tanner Morgan: QB43; 17.6 ppg
Running Back: Huge Upgrade
Ciarrocca is allergic to RBBC. He feeds his RB1 like they are on death row and it’s their last meal. Seven of his last nine full seasons have seen the lead RB go for 200+ carries, and twice (Mo Ibrahim and Jarvion Franklin RB8) have gone for over 300 carries! It is unreasonable to expect monster volume in year one at Rutgers due to the game script, but the run game will have an increased focus at Rutgers, and expect someone to separate.
2022: Mo Ibrahim: RB3; 24.2 ppg
2020: Keyvone Lee: NR; 10.2 ppg
2019: Rodney Smith: RB56; 13.4 ppg
2018: Mo Ibrahim: RB65; 17.5 ppg
Wide Receiver/TE: Upgrade
Ciarrocca’s system has the rare combination of low passing volume with historically productive WRs. His passing scheme tends to funnel targets to just one or two guys and has resulted in big seasons from Corey Davis (WR5 twice!), Daniel Braverman (WR4), Tyler Johnson (WR14, WR9), Rashod Bateman (WR18), and Jahan Dotson. TE production is mostly unremarkable, with the exception of 2022 when the WR room was plagued with injuries.
2022: Daniel Jackson: NR; 9.5 ppg
2020: Jahan Dotson: WR25; 18 ppg
2019: Tyler Johnson: WR9; 19.4 ppg
2019: Rashod Bateman: WR18; 16.8 ppg
Takeaways: An impressive hire by Schiano, given Cirrocca’s track record. This was arguably the worst P5 offense in 2022. It will need Wimsatt and a bad WR room to make huge improvements for Rutgers to have any fantasy relevance in the passing game. Samuel Brown V and Kyle Monangai will likely get first dibs on being the next Cirrocca workhorse RB. The schedule does no favors with crossover games at Iowa and at Wisconsin.
New OC: Brian Hartline
Previous OC: Kevin Wilson
Influenced by: Ryan Day; Kevin Wilson
2018-22 Ohio State WR Coach
Kevin Wilson moves on to Tulsa, and Ryan Day promotes from within by naming Hartline as the new OC. Hartline has been arguably the nation’s best recruiter, as he has stacked the WR room for multiple years now. He will be a first-time coordinator and first-time play-caller. Despite Kevin Wilson leaving, things should remain status quo for the Buckeyes, as Ryan Day was actually the play-caller. We shouldn’t see much shift in terms of scheme, pace, and play design, as Hartline has always worked under Day. It is possible we see some new wrinkles in short-yardage situations where Day often struggled. Hartline is familiar with the personnel, so we shouldn’t see any surprises there. The bigger fantasy impact may actually come from a change in QB with a first-year starter now under center as Kyle Mccord and Devin Brown will compete to replace CJ Stroud.
New OC: Mike Locksley/Kevin Sumlin
Previous OC: Dan Enos
Influenced by: Kevin Wilson; Chuck Long; Joe Tiller; Dino Babers
Coaching Tree: Kliff Kingsbury; Jake Spavital (Cal OC); Noel Mazzone
2018-20 Arizona; 2012-17 Texas A&M; 2008-11 Houston; 2006-07 Oklahoma co-OC
It is unclear at the time of this article exactly who will be calling the plays for Maryland in 2023, but Kevin Sumlin was hired as co-OC to replace Dan Enos. It is very possible we see Locksley take on some play-calling duties since Sumlin has not been a full-time play-caller in close to 20 years. The “co”-OC status without anyone else carrying the same title leads us to believe that Locksley will be more involved than he was with Dan Enos.
Sumlin certainly had his share of ups and downs over the years. Most of his experience has been working with spread-based, balanced systems but has had assistants with air-raid and RPO backgrounds. Sumlin excelled with Kingsbury as his OC at Houston and early years of his A&M tenure with Case Keenum/Patrick Edwards and then Johnny Manziel/Mike Evans. He hitched his coaching wagon to Noel Mazzone as his OC towards the end of his time at A&M and while at Arizona and this proved to be a failed partnership. The Khalil Tate experience was an epic disaster. He’s had numerous 1,000-yard RBs but he’s also had his fair share of committees at RB.
New OC: Sherrone Moore
Previous OCs: Sherrone Moore/Matt Weiss
Michigan recently fired their co-OC, Matt Weiss, for violating university rules. Sherrone Moore was promoted to sole offensive coordinator and assume all play-calling duties. It is unclear how much or what specific duties Moore and Weiss carried. We assume that Weiss was the primary play-caller, in addition to his title as QB Coach. Moore has been an important voice in this offense since he was given the title of co-OC in 2021, so we don’t expect much to change for 2023.
Kirk Campbell, the OC at Old Dominion in 2020 and 2021, has been promoted from analyst to QB Coach. So, JJ McCarthy should have some continuity heading into year three for him despite the loss of Weiss.
Michigan doesn’t exactly schedule a murderer’s row for its non-conference matchups and may not face a ranked opponent until November. Moore should have plenty of runway to work out the kinks that may come with being a full-time play-caller.