Thursday, January 24, 2013
Coordinator changes across Big East
By Andrea Adelson
As usual, the head-coaching carousel has spun wildly in the Big East this offseason.
But so has the coordinator carousel.
Of the eight current teams in the Big East, only Louisville will have the same offensive and defensive coordinator in 2013 as it did this past season. Rutgers is looking for a new offensive coordinator. Pitt is looking for a new defensive coordinator. And UConn has to make a change at both coordinator spots, despite returning head coach Paul Pasqualoni.
That means 12 of 16 coordinator jobs will belong to new coaches in 2013. Last season, there were seven coordinator changes.
One of the new faces was officially announced earlier this week, when UConn hired Cincinnati receivers coach T.J. Weist as offensive coordinator. He replaces George DeLeone, who will remain on staff to coach the offensive line. UConn has yet to announce a replacement for defensive coordinator Don Brown, off to Boston College.
It's obvious the Huskies needed to make a change for its offense, which has struggled the past two seasons. Weist has served as an offensive coordinator once previously, at Western Kentucky. He also called the plays for the Bearcats in the Belk Bowl, a game in which Cincinnati scored 48 points.
The last time UConn scored 48 points against FBS competition? Back in 2009 against Syracuse, when Randy Edsall was still the head coach. Wesit has a background in the hurry-up spread, learning from one of the leading innovators, the late Homer Smith. Though Cincinnati was outstanding running the ball the past two seasons, the Bearcats' offense also featured spread principles.
That would come as a welcome departure for UConn, considering its reliance on the run game. Weist did not want to paint himself into a corner on his philosophies on a conference call Tuesday, but did say something all UConn fans will surely embrace. "I’m not going to characterize us as a run the football or throw the football team, but I want to be an aggressive playcaller," Weist said. "I want to spread the field; vertically and horizontally. Based on personnel, I want to be able to attack and have a physical offense with a balance to it. We can throw deep; no question. We just need to get the ball to our playmakers. I think we’re going to put our players in the best position to make plays."
That, of course, is the big question. Do the Huskies have playmakers on offense? They do return two young talents at receiver in Geremy Davis and Shakim Phillips, along with Lyle McCombs at running back. But for yet another season, questions remain at quarterback.
Weist must start there, of course. But he also cannot be afraid to let loose, either, something the Huskies have failed to do under Pasqualoni. Folks want to see players given an opportunity to make plays, not just game managers relying on the strength of the defense. Because, guess what? That UConn defense has to be rebuilt, from coordinator on down to the players.
The time is now for the offense to step up.