Penn State may have a number of question marks about its team heading into the 2014 season but the one things most seem to agree on without hesitation is the Nittany Lions have no issues under center. Sophomore Christian Hackenberg took some lumps in his freshman season but hit his stride as the year progressed. His season finale performance at Wisconsin offered a mighty glimpse of something special for the next few years in State College. If there is one position nobody is terribly concerned about, it is the quarterback position. That said, new head coach James Franklin should not and apparently will not shy away from trying some new things to mix things up on offense.
Yes, the wildcat will be back in State College this fall if Franklin has anything to say about it (and he does, being the head coach and all).
Speaking at an event Thursday, Franklin was asked about the wildcat and he was prepared to share some details about what could potentially happen. Franklin mentioned receiver Geno Lewis and speedy running back Bill Belton specifically, and for good reason. Lewis has some quarterback experience and Belton offers plenty of speed when healthy and has room to work. The spring game served up some potential plays that could make it to the playbook this fall.
In order for the wildcat to be effective though, Franklin stressed the need to have a threat to pass coming from Lewis or Belton or whomever may be running the offense. Hackenberg will rarely be a threat to run, so having Lewis or Belton give the defense something else to think about will be critical to the success of the wildcat. This is true not just at Penn State, but for any team looking to run the wildcat.
This video of Franklin talking about the wildcat was shared by The Patriot News (PennLive.com);
Bill O’Brien brought some new looks to the Penn State offense each of the last two seasons and really changed the way Penn State’s offense had been operating in a short period of time. He was not afraid to do things that had never or rarely been done at Penn State under former head coach Joe Paterno. When Paterno was fired in the midst of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, defensive coordinator Tom Bradley was named the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Bradley and the coaching staff wasted little time in trying a few new things as well, and that included the wildcat a little more frequently.
This is not going to drastically change Penn State’s offensive philosophy. The Nittany Lions should still have a dependable running game and a solid passing game with Hackenberg, a tight-end heavy corp and a respectable stable of running backs, but Franklin is known to mix things up a bit. That applies here as well.
The Cincinnati Bengals were rebuffed in its pursuit of an SEC defensive coordinator this past week. As it turns out, they pursued another coordinator at the collegiate level — and were shot down yet again.
According to a report from the NFL Network, the Bengals sought an interview with new Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley for their still-vacant coordinator job. “However,” the report stated, “he’s not going to renege on his commitment to OSU after taking the job last month.”
On Jan. 7, the Buckeyes confirmed Hafley and Michigan assistant Greg Mattison had been named as co-coordinators on Ryan Day‘s first OSU coaching staff.
The 39-year-old Hafley — he’ll turn 40 in April — has spent the past three seasons as the defensive backs coach for the San Francisco 49ers. All told, Hafley worked at the NFL for the last seven seasons.
Hafley’s last job at the collegiate level coming at Rutgers in 2011 as part of the coaching staff of Greg Schiano, who was let go by Day as OSU’s defensive coordinator early last month.
A familiar face will reportedly be next up on the offensive side of Lovie Smith‘s Illinois coaching staff.
Bob Asmussen of the Champaign News-Gazette was one of a handful reporting Friday that Smith is set to name Mike Bellamy as his new running backs coach. While there’s nothing yet official from the football program, a school official stated that a staff announcement could come as early as this weekend.
The hiring of Bellamy, who would replace an assistant lost to a MAC school, would mark a Champaign homecoming on a couple of fronts.
In the late eighties, Bellamy was a first-team All-Big Ten wide receiver and second-team All-American kick returner for the Illini. Then, from 2012-15, Bellamy served as wide receivers coach at his alma mater.
The past two seasons, Bellamy was the wide receivers coach at Toledo. In between his stints at Toledo and Illinois, he was a quality control coach at Mississippi State in 2016.
One SEC West school has turned to another from the same division to fill a hole on its coaching staff. Reportedly.
According to 247Sports.com, and citing two sources familiar with the decision, Chad Morris is expected to hire Kenny Ingram as Arkansas’ defensive line coach. Morris’ move to add a new assistant to his Razorbacks staff was triggered by John Scott‘s move to South Carolina earlier this offseason.
Ingram, who played his college football at Arkansas State, has spent the past two seasons as the Director of Player Relations at Auburn.
Prior to his time on The Plains, Ingram worked as the defensive line coach at Cincinnati from 2015-16. From 2006-09, he was on the coaching staff at Memphis, including a turn as defensive coordinator his last season with the Tigers.
In 2012, Ingram worked with the defensive line at his alma mater ASU.
Garrett Riley is a bright, accomplished coach in his own right, but until he wins back-to-back Heismans with two different quarterbacks (or, at least becomes a head coach in his own right), he’s going to be known as his big brother’s little brother. With that in mind: Lincoln Riley’s brother has been announced as Appalachian State’s new running backs coach.
“I’m excited to be part such a traditionally successful program,” Riley said in a statement. “I’m humble and grateful to have the opportunity to be around this organization and work with Coach Drink and the rest of the staff that I’ve known about for several years. Look forward to continuing the great success that Appalachian State’s had, and I can’t wait to start working with the players.”
Garrett followed Lincoln to Texas Tech and East Carolina before branching out on his own at Kansas, where he joined the staff as an offensive analyst in 2016 and was promoted to quarterbacks coach in 2017 and tight ends/fullbacks coach in 2018.
Appalachian State has not announced an offensive coordinator under new head coach Eli Drinkwitz — and certainly the head coach, a former offensive coordinator himself, will have tremendous sway on his favored side of the ball initially — it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Riley become the Mountaineers’ offensive coordinator in 2020 or 2021. “We’re looking to be cutting edge on offense, and we expect him to continue to push that,” Drinkwitz said Friday. “His experience coaching in North Carolina will also benefit our program.”