Five at top of Coordinator Search? (12/7)

Six days removed from the opening of two coaching positions vacated by released offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis, Florida head coach Will Muschamp has not named a replacement for either spot, but as time goes by it seems like we can start whittling the list down a bit. Here are four we have at the top of the list.

With the Gators looking to open things up on offense and with all the issues the team has had at the quarterback position since before Will Muschamp even arrived on campus, we have narrowed our current focus to offensive coordinators that are also quarterback coaches below we will tell you what we know about the person and give you the pros and cons as we see it.

The Frontrunner: Clay Helton

USC (2010 to present) - January 2010 (hired at USC as quarterback coach); October 2013 (started calling plays after dismissal of Lane Kiffin); January 2012 (added passing game coordinator title); December 2013 (named interim head coach for bowl season).
Memphis (2000-2009) – January 2000 (hired as RB coach); 2003 (Moved to receivers coach); 2007-2009 (promoted to OC and QB coach).
Houston (1997-1999) January 1997 (hired as RB coach)

During his time at USC as quarterback coach Helton coached up Matt Barkely who won the 2012 Wuerffel Trophy and finalist for several other awards. At the completion of his career, Barkley became the career record holder for passing yards (12,327), completions (1,001), touchdowns (116) and total offense (12,214). In 2011 Barkley set the Pac-12 season record for TD passes (39) and the USC season mark for pass completion percentage (69.1%), as well as school game standards for completions (35), pass yardage (468), passing TDs (6) and total offense (470).

As Memphis' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, the 2007 and 2008 offenses were among the top 6 in school history in total yards and points. Both squads were ranked in the top 26 nationally in total offense. Quarterback Martin Hankins became Memphis' No. 2 career passer and set single season records for completions, passing yards and touchdown passes in 2007. In 2009, Curtis Steele had his second consecutive season with 1,000 rushing yards, Calhoun became the school's all-time leading receiver and Carlos Singleton set the career mark for receiving touchdowns.

Why he could be the guy: Helton has shown the ability to be multiple on offense with a diversity in schemes and ways to attack. He has the credentials of a terrific quarterback coach in which the Gators have needed for a while. He's been available for almost two months now and the gators have likely been looking at replacements for a while as well. He is currently without a job for 2014 after USC hired Steve Sarkisian. He's coached on the biggest stages of college football. He was born in Gainesville, Florida. His father Kim Helton played for Florida and also was the head coach at Houston with Neil Callaway as his offensive line coach. Callaway is the front runner for the offensive line position at Florida.

Why he may not be the guy: While the offense has improved in the last 8 weeks at USC under his control, and his offenses were record setters in terms of yards at Memphis, his time spent with the Tigers wasn't one where the scoreboard was running out of numbers. He averaged 27 and 29 points in his two best years as coordinator at Memphis.

The guy nobody talks about: Tim Beck

Nebraska (2008-present) January 2008 (hired as running back coach); 2011 (promoted to OC and QB's coach)
Kansas (2005-2007) - January 2005 (hired as receivers coach) January 2007 (promoted to passing game coordinator)
A 2012 Broyles Award nominee as the nation's top assistant. Nebraska had one of its most productive and explosive offensive seasons in recent years in 2012. Beck's offense scored 57 offensive touchdowns, producing more than 50 offensive touchdowns in a season for the first time since 2008 (54) and for only the second time in the past 11 seasons.

The Huskers averaged 34.8 points per game in 2012, a total that ranked 28th nationally and was the highest by a Nebraska team since 2008 (35.1) Nebraska was eighth nationally in rushing in 2012 (253.4 yards per game) and 26th nationally in total offense (460.8 yards per game). NU led the Big Ten Conference in total offense and rushing offense, while ranking second in scoring. On the ground, the Huskers rushed for at least 200 yards 12 times in 2012, the program's highest total since also rushing for 200 yards times in 1997.

Quarterback Taylor Martinez flourished in his second season in Beck's offense. The coaches' selection as the first-team All-Big Ten quarterback, Martinez accounted for a school-record 3,890 yards of total offense in 2012. Martinez rushed for 1,019 yards in 2012 - the fourth-highest total by a quarterback in school history - and he threw for 2,871 yards, the highest total ever by a Husker junior and the third-highest mark overall in school history.

Sophomore I-back Ameer Abdullah also excelled in Beck's offense in 2012. Abdullah rushed for 1,137 yards, the sixth-highest sophomore total in school history. Receiver Kenny Bell was another sophomore who flourished in Beck's offense in 2012.

Beck came to Nebraska after a three-year stint on the staff at Kansas. Beck was the Jayhawks' receivers coach each of his three seasons in Lawrence, and was promoted to pass game coordinator in February of 2007. Kansas finished with a 12-1 record and a No. 7 final national ranking in 2007. The Jayhawks capped their season with a 24-21 victory over Virginia Tech in the Fed Ex Orange Bowl. KU finished the year second nationally in scoring offense (42.8 ppg), eighth in total offense (479.8 ypg) and 17th in passing (291.0 ypg). In 2006, five Jayhawk receivers caught at least 24 passes. In 2005, Beck's receivers helped Kansas to a 7-5 record and a victory in the Fort Worth Bowl.

Beck came to KU as one of the most respected high school coaches in the state of Texas, serving three seasons at Summit High in Mansfield. He was the 2003 District Coach of the Year, and a season later, Summit High advanced to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs with a 9-4 record.

In 2013 beck's quarterback went down to injury in the fourth game of the season. After a good start throwing 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions Beck was forced to play backups that played well but not to that level throwing for 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Running back Abdullah finished the regular season making up for the loss of Martinez and mounting 1500 yards on the ground.

Why he could be the guy: Beck has been successful coaching multiple positions, but has excelled at coaching quarterbacks. With an all Big-12 quarterback in 2012, he showed that he could utilize both his throwing talent and his running talent, something that would fit well with Florida's returning starter Jeff Driskel. We know he has been contacted about the position. beck is also in a situation where his head coach is facing scrutiny and may not be around much longer.

Why he may not be the guy: It has been really quiet on this one, but I have some folks telling me he was certainly on the short list. There really isn't a connection that I can find. He's still employed albeit under duress with the coaching situation at Nebraska.

The coach's good friend… Major Applewhite

Texas (2008 – present) – January 2008 (hired as running backs coach and asst. head coach); January 2011 (promoted to co-offensive coordinator); 2012 (assumed play calling and coached QB's)
Alabama (2007) – January 2007 (hired as OC and QB coach)
Rice (2006) – January 2006 (hired as OC and QB coach)

In 2013 and as the offensive coordinator, his offense finished the regular season ranked 43rd In total offense with 441 yards per game and 42nd in in scoring offense at 33.1 points per game. Dealing with an injured starter at quarterback, the passing game suffered and they fell to 53rd in the country averaging 241.1 yards per game to go along with 17 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions during the 12 game season. Texas did rush for 200.6 yards per game this season averaging a solid 4.46 yards per carry and scoring 24 touchdowns.

In 2012, his quarterbacks threw for 263 yards a game with 25 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In 2011, the running backs combined for 2,300 yards and 23 touchdowns while adding 36 receptions for 285 yards In 2010, the running back corps combined for 1,396 rushing yards and 14 TDs, while catching 47 passes for 322 yards.

The running backs rushed for 1,665 yards and 24 TDs in 2009. In 2008, Ogbonnaya, McGee, Whittaker and Johnson stepped in and combined to rush for 1,371 yards and 20 TDs, including 12 TDs by Johnson, which tied the UT freshman record. The group did not lose a fumble during the entire season and showed its versatility by combining for 65 receptions for 640 yards and three TDs.

In Applewhite's one year at Alabama, the Crimson Tide bounced back from a losing season in 2006 to post a 7-6 record under first-year coach Nick Saban. Under his guidance, Alabama improved its offensive output by nearly 40 yards per game (335.9 to 373.8) and increased its scoring from 22.9 points per game to 27.1.

Prior to Alabama, Applewhite spent a season as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Rice where, as the youngest coordinator in NCAA Division I, he directed an offense that scored the most points (350) and gained the third-most yards (4,486) in Owls' history. Under his guidance, Rice produced a 1,000-yard rusher, a 1,000-yard receiver and a 1,000-yard passer for the first time in school history en route to the program's first appearance in a bowl game since 1961. The 2006 Rice offense produced a 109-point improvement in scoring over the previous season.

Why he could be the guy: Worked with Muschamp at Texas for three years where they became very good friends. He had three different stints as quarterback coach and offensive coordinator, very successful at Rice and reasonably successful at Alabama and Texas.

Why he may not be the guy: Is he successful enough with the taent that Texas brings into the fold? That is the big question.

The newest hot name… Blake Anderson

North Carolina – 2012 (hired as OC and QB coach)
Southern Miss - 2008 (hired at USM as OC and run game coordinator); January 2010 (promoted to offensive coordinator)
Louisiana Lafayette – 2007 (OC and QB coach)

Finished the 2013 regular season ranked 47th in the country ion offense at 432.4 yards per game, 49th in scoring at 32.3 yards per game, and 23rd in passing offense with 286.3 passing yards per game and 27 passing TD's. The statistics are skewed a bit because starting senior quarterback Brynn Renner went down to injury in game number seven of the season. Athletic quarterback Marquise Williams was inserted and he ended up leading the team in rushing while throwing for 14 touchdowns and six interceptions on the season.

In 2012 and his first season as Carolina's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Blake Anderson helped the Tar Heels re-write the school's offensive record book. Carolina established more than 35 school records in 2012 including most points, most points per game and total offense. Tar Heels finished eighth in the country in scoring, averaging 40.6 points per game and were 14th nationally with 485.6 yards per game. Carolina's passing attack was 26th nationally with 291.8 yards per contest, and the Tar Heels also rushed for 193.8 yards per game, their highest average since 1994.

Anderson came to Chapel Hill after a record-setting run as USM's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The Golden Eagles established school records for total offense in each of Anderson's last two years. He was part of a Southern Miss staff under head coach Larry Fedora that won a school-record 12 games in 2012, including the Conference USA championship over previously unbeaten Houston and the Hawaii Bowl over Nevada.

Anderson came to Southern Miss after spending the 2007 campaign at Louisiana-Lafayette as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The Ragin' Cajuns posted the No. 6-rated rushing offense nationally (251.6) in 2007 and became the Sun Belt's first ever 3,000-yard rushing team (3,019).

Why he could be the guy: A real balanced offense taking advantage of the pass and the running game. He has shown the ability to coach through injuries and coach both a drop back passer and a quarterback that is primarily a runner. Again, this is something that would benefit the Gators currently in their situation at the position. A Larry Fedora protégé, Anderson would likely be someone Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley would keep his eye on after maintaining a friendship with the former Florida offensive coordinator. His immediate success in year one at North Carolina is eye opening.

Why he may not be the guy: It is tough to find a negative with this one. He seems to have all of the factors they should be looking for in an offensive coordinator/ QB coach. Is there enough of a connection here to make it happen?

The longshot everyone wants… Mike Norvell

Arizona State -2012 (hired as OC/ QB coach)
Pittsburgh – 2011 (co-offensive coorditor, WR coach, director of recruiting)
Tulsa 2008 – 2008 (hired as receivers coach); 2010 (added passing game coordinator to his title)

The 2013 offense finished the regular season 21st in the country at 473.3 yards per game, averaging 285.4 yards passing, and 187.8 yards. Quarterback Taylor Kelly has thrown for 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Norvell led a balanced and explosive offense in his first year with ASU as he helped the Sun Devils set school marks at the quarterback, running back and tight end positions. Of the 464.5 total yards per game ASU averaged last season, 205.5 came on the ground, representing the second-best mark in the past 25 seasons (since 1988).

Nowhere was Norvell's influence felt more than at the quarterback position where first-year signal-caller Taylor Kelly set the school record for completion percentage (67.1) and threw for the second-most touchdown passes (29) in school history. Combined with the talents of running back Marion Grice – scored the third-most touchdowns (19) in school history – and tight end Chris Coyle – 57 receptions were the most ever by an ASU tight end – Norvell's quick-strike offense produced 58 scoring drives of three minutes or less in 2012.

While with Tulsa, the Golden Hurricane had five 1,000-yard receivers emerge under Norvell's tutelage. His most accomplished pupil was All-America receiver Damaris Johnson, who led the country in all-purpose yards for two consecutive years and set the all-time NCAA FBS record for that category with 7,796 career yards. Johnson averaged 202.2 all-purpose yards per game in 2010.

In 2008, Norvell's receivers were a vital part of college football's most prolific offense. Tulsa averaged an astounding 569.9 yards per game that season to lead the country. The Golden Hurricane ranked second nationally in scoring (47.1points/game) and ninth in passing yards (301.8 yards/game).

Why he may be the guy: Norvell is the public favorite for the position and certainly someone that the Gators must entertain. He's certainly a name that would draw a lot of positive attention to the Florida offense, which is much needed. Florida can offer this guy a chance to shine if he comes to a premiere program and pulls them out of a three year slump of finishing in the 100's nationally in total offense.

Why he may not be the guy: Norvell has a lot returning at ASU and they could be in line for making a run nationally next season. He's also spent his entire coaching career with ASU head coach Todd Graham. That one year at Pittsbugh left out of his bio was a big one. The panthers finished 88th nationally in total offense and went 6-7 on the season.

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