This is our Big 12 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 conclusion.


CINCINNATI

New HC/OC: Scott Satterfield

Previous HC/OC: Luke Fickell/Gino Guidugli

Influenced by: Jerry Moore (formerly App State); Mario Cristobal

Coaching tree: Lance Taylor (WMU), Frank Ponce (App State OC)

2019-22 Louisville head coach; 2013-18 Appalachian State head coach; 2012 App State OC; 2010-11 FIU OC

Cincy heads into the Big 12 with a brand new staff led by former Louisville coach Scott Satterfield. Former Iowa State OC Tom Manning was selected as the co-OC but has since taken a job in the NFL with the Colts. Satterfield will call the plays and have the most influence here, so it doesn’t matter that much for CFF purposes.

Quarterbacks: Upgrade

Satterfield had an impressive run at Louisville with Malik Cunningham, so it will be interesting to see if he can carry that over to Cincy. Will it be hard to duplicate without a QB of Cunningham’s caliber? Satterfield did have success with Zac Thomas (QB26) and Taylor Lamb (QB14 and QB27) while at App State. Expect him to duplicate that level of success here.

2022: Malik Cunningham: QB52; 21.4 ppg

2021: Malik Cunningham: QB2; 31.2 ppg

2020: Malik Cunningham: QB15; 23.4 ppg

Running Backs: Push

Cincy has been one of the better RB programs to invest in, but Satterfield also has a strong track record. He had six 1K rushers in his last five seasons while at App State. He made Javian Hawkins a star when he arrived at the “Ville”, but the last two seasons have seen QB run game and a committee really limit the fantasy potential at RB

2022: Tiyon Evans: NR; 11 ppg

2021: Jalen Mitchell: NR; 10 ppg

2020: Javian Hawkins: RB31; 18.6 ppg

Wide Receivers/TE: Push

Cincy has historically been pretty inconsistent with WR production, and the same holds true with Satterfield. He’s never had a WR with 70+ receptions, and only twice has had a 1K receiver. However, Tutu Atwell was WR13 in 2019. Maybe Volume for the WRs will remain limited as long as the QB run game remains a focus in this offense. 

2022: Tyler Hudson: WR72; 12.5 ppg

2021: Marshon Ford: TE25; 7ppg 

2020: Tutu Atwell: WR45; 14.6 ppg

Takeaways: Satterfield historically is a top 10 CFF QB producer due to the volume in the QB run game. Pay attention closely to the battle between Emory Jones and Evan Prater. RB has potential, but a running QB and the top three leading rushers all returning likely means a committee. Don’t expect much from the WR room in year 1, but the leading guy is likely one of the transfers, given the attrition the Bearcats saw at WR. 


TCU

New OC: Kendal Briles

Previous OC: Garrett Riley

Influenced by: Art Briles; Lane Kiffin; Major Applewhite

2020-22 Arkansas OC; 2019 Florida State OC; 2018 Houston OC; 2017 FAU OC; 2015-16 Baylor OC

Sonny Dykes made a controversial hire coming off his national title appearance. Kendal Briles, a man that Frog fans have loved to hate, takes over as OC. He is another Art Briles disciple from Baylor that runs the Veer-n-Shoot system. It is simple but effective. The QB challenges the defense downfield, it’s extremely effective in the run game, and it features one or two receivers that generally have elite speed. Garrett Riley, the Broyles Award winner, is a difficult coach to follow, but Briles has proven his ability to produce high-end fantasy assets.

Quarterback: Push

It is Dykes plus Riley vs. Dykes plus Briles. All have proven to be great for CFF QBs. Riley and Briles QBs have produced similar PPG over the last couple of years. Briles does have D’Eriq King as the CFF QB1 in ppg on his resume from 2018, but we could see some growing pains as Briles implements his system with new staff and personnel. 

2022: KJ Jefferson: QB16; 27.6 ppg

2021: KJ Jefferson: QB19; 21.6 ppg

2020: Feleipe Franks: QB40; 18 ppg

Running Backs: Slight Upgrade

Riley’s RBs have been slightly better over the last three seasons, but Briles has proven that he will feed an elite RB when he has one. He had the clear CFF RB1 in 2017 with Devin Singletary and RB7 with Cam Akers. The floor is lower, but the ceiling is higher with Briles. 

2022: Raheim Sanders: RB18; 19.5 ppg

2021: Dominique Johnson: NR; 8.9 ppg

2020: Trelon Smith: RB49; 12.8 ppg

Wide Receivers/TE: Push

The overall production at this position should remain relatively unchanged from Riley to Briles based on historical comparisons, but who gets the bulk of the targets will be interesting. The last three seasons have seen slot receivers Treylon Burks and Jadon Haselwood lead Arkansas in targets and receptions (Landers led in yards/TDs), whereas boundary receivers led the Dykes/Riley offenses.

2022: Matt Landers: WR50; 13.6 ppg

2021: Treylon Burks: WR15; 18.9 ppg

2020: Treylon Burks: WR24; 17 ppg

Takeaways: CFF production between Dykes, Riley, and Briles is actually pretty similar, but they go about it in different ways. Briles QBs tend to be more involved in the run game. He likes to play bigger WRs in the slot that create mismatches in the middle of the field. Faster WRs like Mike Woods and Matt Landers generally don’t see as many targets but are also a focus of the offense to open up the run game by stretching the field and scoring often on big plays.


UCF

New OC: Darin Hinshaw

Previous OC: Chip Lindsey

Influenced by: Eddie Gran (former UK OC); Derek Dooley

2022: UAB OC; 2021 UCF analyst; 2016-20 Kentucky co-OC; 2-13-15 Cincinnati QB coach; 2010-12 Tennessee pass game coordinator

Gus Malzahn turns to a familiar face in Darin Hinshaw after previous OC Chip Lindsey took the open UNC job. Similar to Lindsey, Hinshaw will have an influence on this Knights’ offense, but Gus is truly the one that pulls the strings from a schematic and play-calling approach. The hire makes sense as Hinshaw is familiar with both Gus and the personnel from his time at UCF in 2021 and his background in a run-heavy scheme as an Eddie Gran disciple. 

Takeaways: No need to dive too deep into the historical data on Hinshaw, given Malzahn’s heavy hand on this UCF offense. Things should remain relatively unchanged as Gus will continue to call plays. Expect a major emphasis on establishing the run with an uptempo spread with option-based components. Like Gus, Hinshaw is no stranger to the QB being very involved in the run game. He oversaw Lynn Bowden’s transition to QB while at Kentucky. Expect more of the same from John Rhys Plumlee in 2023.


WEST VIRGINIA

New OC: Chad Scott

Previous OC: Graham Harrell 

2019-22 West Virginia RB coach; 

Surprisingly, Neal Brown lives to see another season as the Mountaineer’s head coach. Long-time assistant Chad Scott was promoted from RB coach to OC. The early word is that Scott will be the new play-caller, a role he has never carried. Putting your fate in the hands of a first-time play-caller when your seat is hotter than a 4th of July in Texas is an interesting choice, to say the least. Maybe there just weren’t a lot of candidates inspired to hitch their career wagon to a dead man walking like Brown. Scott is the fourth OC in Brown’s five years at WVU. It is possible this promotion mitigated the potential that second-year RB CJ Donaldson would enter the portal, as was rumored towards the end of 2022. 

Scott has been with Brown for many years, so I think it is reasonable to expect this offense to return to what we were accustomed to seeing from Neal Brown offenses prior to the hiring of Graham Harrell. Thus, we could see an increased emphasis on the run game as Scott was co-OC from 2019-21 when Leddie Brown was the focal point of the offense.

2020: 220 touches; RB13; 20.3 ppg

2021: 260 touches: RB24; 18.7 ppg

Takeaways: Scott has coached five RBs in the last eight years to eclipse a stat line of at least 200 carries, 1,000 yards, and ten TDs. It is a crowded backfield with Donaldson, Johnson, Mathis, and Anderson, but the CFF potential is there if someone were to separate. QB hasn’t been as productive under Brown and Scott, but Garrett Greene is a dynamic athlete for the position and could perform well in spots.


IOWA STATE

New OC: Nate Scheelhaase

Previous OC: Tom Manning

Influenced by: Tom Manning; Bill Cubit

Manning has been Matt Campbell’s OC for all but one season during his tenure in Ames, Iowa. Things may have reached a boiling point in 2022 when the Cyclones dropped from 43rd in scoring in 2021 to 114th last season. Manning left after Campbell decided to (sarcastic air quotes) “reorganize” the offensive staff. Instead of looking outside, Campbell decided to hire from within as he promoted his run game coordinator, Nate Scheelhaase, to OC.

Scheelhaase has never called plays. He has never been an OC of any type. He is 32 years old and has been with Campbell since 2018 as an assistant. Some of the OG CFF players may remember him from his time as a QB at Illinois under Ron Zook and Tim Beckman. We don’t have much to go by here with such a limited coaching history.

“The reality is it’s not a matter of scheme. It’s a matter of how we do what we do and the consistency that we do it with,” Campbell said after the coordinator change. That screams, “we ain’t changing much”. Scheelhaase had multiple years with over 180 rushing attempts when he was QB, so maybe that rubs off on Dekkers, and we see him run more than we saw in 2022. Outside of that, it is hard to project much change. This mostly appears to be a Matt Campbell scheme with a fresh face calling the plays.


HOUSTON

New OC: Dana Holgorsen (assumed)

Previous OC: Shannon Dawson

Dawson has been the OC for the last two seasons at Houston but recently accepted the Miami OC job. There are early indications that Holgorsen does not plan to hire a replacement for Dawson as a play-caller and that he is likely to take over those duties. It is a role he has had many times throughout his career and one that he is prolific at for CFF purposes. We can safely assume Holgorsen was very involved in the direction of the offense under Dawson. There are also some indications that Holgorsen actually took over the play-calling duties a month into the season when he said changes were coming on offense. After stating that in a press conference, the offense actually improved by eight PPG for the remainder of the season.

Don’t expect much change here with the loss of Dawson. QB and WR under Holgorsen will remain a coveted position in CFF circles, despite the loss of Clayton Tune and Nathaniel Dell.


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