This is our MAC 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.
None of the new OCs have play-calling history at the FBS level, so unfortunately, we don’t have much historical data to utilize when exploring these coaching changes. Such is life when it comes to MACtion.
New HC/OC: Kenni Burns/Matt Johnson
Previous HC/OC: Sean Lewis
Influenced by: Sean Lewis, Dino Babers
2020-22 Kent State RBs coach
The Golden Flash is undergoing some major changes to its offense this offseason. Not only did head coach Sean Lewis leave to be Deion Sanders’ OC in Boulder, but four of its most productive skill players hit the portal in QB Collin Schlee, RB Marquez Cooper, WR Devontez Walker, and WR Dante Cephas. Kenni Burns is the new head ball coach here after working under PJ Fleck since 2016 as his RB coach at Minnesota and Western Michigan. Burns decided to go with a familiar face as his OC by promoting Kent State’s RB coach, Matt Johnson, to OC.
Johnson has never been a play caller but has worked at Sean Lewis’ side for several years at Kent State and Syracuse. He was an incredible CFF QB while playing for Dino Babers and Lewis at Bowling Green, where he had over 5,000 yards and 50 Tds in his final season. It is reasonable to think that much of the scheme will remain unchanged, but this will be a major rebuilding project that will likely see some rough spots in year one under Burns with all the roster turnover.
Burns had an amazing track record producing high-level CFF RBs like Mo Ibrahim, Rodney Smith, and Jarvion Franklin. We may see this position remain a big producer with Bryan Bradford or Ky Thomas (former RB for Burns at Minnesota), given Burns and Johnson’s background and the passing game having lost so much production.
New HC/OC: Lance Taylor/Billy Cosh
Previous HC: Tim Lester
Influenced by: Scott Satterfield; Brian Kelly; David Shaw
2022 Louisville OC; 2019-21 Notre Dame RB coach; 2017-18 Carolina Panthers WR coach; 2014-16 Stanford RB coach
Lance Taylor takes over after a six-year run by Tim Lester. Taylor has made a career out of being a highly respected RBs coach at Notre Dame and Stanford. He’s also had multiple stints as a position coach in the NFL and got his first opportunity to call plays for Louisville in 2022, though all signs indicate it was shared duties with Satterfield. Taylor hired Billy Cosh from the FBS ranks to be his OC. It is unclear who will call plays, but Cosh has two seasons of play-calling experience at VMI and one at Richmond.
Cosh was pass-heavy most recently at Richmond, where they averaged 283 passing yards/game and had three WRs with over 70 receptions. His two years at VMI prior to that resulted in a mostly balanced offense with pretty bland individual production.
Running back appears to be the position to target based on Taylor’s history, but Sean Tyler and La’darius Jefferson have both moved on. Zahir Abdus-Salaam is the leading returning rusher but possibly had the least efficient season of any RB in the country in 2022 with his paltry 2.2 ypc. Keep an eye here should someone emerge in spring/fall camps.
New OC: DJ Mangas
Previous OC: Shane Montgomery
Influenced by: Joe Brady
2022 UCF Defensive Analyst; 2021 LSU Pass Game Coordinator; 2020 Panthers Assistant; 2019 LSU Offensive Analyst
Linguist decided to make a move at OC and brought in DJ Mangas, who has had an exciting coaching career. His most recent position was actually on the defensive side of the ball as an analyst at UCF. Before that, he spent multiple years as Joe Brady’s protégé, including the magical 2019 season as an offensive analyst for LSU that saw many of the best producers in CFF that season. He returned to LSU as the pass game coordinator in 2021 when Max Johnson was okay with a 27-6 TD-INT season, but essentially was the worst passing season the Tigers have had since 2018.
Mangas has never been a play-caller at the FBS level but carried the OC title for two seasons at William and Mary in 2016 and 2017. William and Mary went from averaging 31 and 22 ppg the two seasons prior to Mangas taking over as OC to 15 and 13.6 ppg with the offense under his control. Not good. Not good at all.
Mangas is only 33 and still learning, but the biggest thing he has going for him is his association with and endorsement from Joe Brady. Like Brady, Mangas seems to be squeezing every ounce of juice he can learn from the success of that 2019 season with LSU to land him jobs he probably doesn’t deserve based on his resume. Projecting what 2023 will look like under Mangas for the Bulls is challenging. QB Cole Snyder returns, but his top three pass catchers move on, and the RB room remains quite a mess.
MIAMI OF OHIO
New OC: Patrick Welsh
Previous OC: Eric Koehler
2014-22 Miami OH TE coach
Head coach Chuck Martin lost his OC, Eric Koehler, to Minnesota for an analyst position and decided to promote from within. New OC Patrick Welsh has been on staff as TE coach and recruiting coordinator for nine years. We don’t expect much change here with the scheme that would impact the fantasy assets in any way. This hasn’t been a particularly dynamic offense throughout Martin and Welsh’s tenure since they arrived in 2014, so don’t expect it to be much different in 2023. They have averaged between 17 and 29 ppg each season over this span.
Brett Gabbert returns for another season, which should mean a bounce-back opportunity could be in store for the WR room. Unfortunately, Mac Hippenhammer exhausted his eligibility, so Gabbert will be in search of a new WR1. It is a position that has been quite productive for CFF purposes over the last few years, so keep a watchful eye on any news out of this room before the season.