College Fantasy Football: Meet the new coordinators
Want to win your college fantasy football league? Getting to know some of the biggest coordinator hires across the sport is important. Here’s a breakdown of some of those new coaches and what to expect from their new squads.
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Offensive coordinator Tyson Helton, Tennessee
Overview: Before Helton calls any plays in Knoxville, one of the first decisions he and the coaching staff have to make is whether Stanford transfer Keller Chryst or former four-star Jarrett Guarantano is the starting quarterback. The first-year offensive coordinator has a talented stable of running backs and good receivers but must figure out an inexperienced offensive line. Helton has a big-time reputation and in the SEC delivering early and often will be expected.
Reaction: “Tyson Helton is considered a wunderkind offensive mind, making a fast rise as an assistant working under June Jones, Jeff Brohm and his brother, Clay Helton. He has a track record of developing quarterbacks, most recently with the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL Draft: Sam Darnold. Tennessee is expected to run a hybrid pro scheme, taking run elements from what OL coach Will Friend used at Georgia and Colorado State and meshing that with some West Coast passing concepts from USC. The Vols want to be a power run team that pushes the ball vertically using play-action. The question with Helton mainly revolves around play calling. The 41-year-old coach has had a hand in those duties at Western Kentucky and USC, but now this is his show. We simply don’t know how that will go.” - Jesse Simonton, Volquest.com
Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, Alabama
Overview: Locksley, the former receivers coach for the Crimson Tide, takes over as offensive coordinator, and it seems players are happy with the decision. There has been something of a revolving door in recent years in this position, with Brian Daboll leaving after only one season for the Buffalo Bills. The feeling is that Alabama’s offense will not look much different, although Locksley could add some of his own touches depending on which quarterback wins the starting job.
Reaction: “Mike Locksley has made it clear from the start: This is Alabama’s offense. The first-year offensive coordinator will inevitably leave his stamp on the Crimson Tide’s attack, but don’t expect anything drastically different than recent years.
'Our offensive philosophy starts with coach (Nick) Saban and what he wants us to do,' Locksley said. 'He sets the culture for how the offense is run and what type of things he wants done. As you see, this offense hasn't changed a lot. Obviously, with Lane (Kiffin) coming and going to some of the tempo and no-huddle stuff, it's continued to improve it. I'm not looking to reinvent the wheel. Alabama's system has been very successful throughout the time that Coach has been here. Will I add some new things or add some wrinkles? I think the biggest difference you'll see, most play callers put their personality on the offense and how they call it. I'm excited to have that opportunity here.'
“During his lone press conference of the season earlier this month, Locksley stressed the importance of putting the ball in his play-makers’ hands. At Alabama, that means spreading the ball equally among a stacked group of receivers and running backs.” - Tony Tsoukalas, BamaInsider.com
Offensive coordinator Matt Canada, Maryland
Overview: Canada steps into a difficult position, but he’s a skilled coach who has developed a reputation as a great offensive mind. As the turmoil around Maryland coach D.J. Durkin continues, Canada has been tabbed as the interim coach, which could be a difficult task. But Canada seems up to it. Last season at LSU did not work out between Canada and coach Ed Orgeron, but Canada now takes over a Maryland offense with a lot of intriguing pieces, especially in the backfield. Throughout his career, Canada has worked his offense around his personnel, and that is what’s expected of him this season with the Terrapins.
Reaction: “Matt Canada is going to bring a number of changes to the Terps this season, both on offense and beyond. With Durkin on administrative leave, Canada has been tasked with the job of interim head coach, overseeing the entire team as well as the offense and quarterbacks.
“Whereas last season Walt Bell seemed to be trying to fit square pegs into a round hole, Canada is known for adapting his offense to fit the talent he inherits. And Canada is inheriting quite a bit of talent. The Terps are loaded in the backfield, with four or five running backs who have the ability to rush for 1,000 yards with enough carries. Canada also starts the season with a healthy stable of quarterbacks that includes expected starter and former Rivals100 star Kasim Hill. Look for Canada to use plenty of pre-snap motion and try to get as many running backs on the field at a time as possible. Also look for Canada to make a concerted effort to get the tight ends involved after they were non-existent in the passing game last season.
“The biggest question mark heading into the Terps' Labor Day weekend meeting with Texas is how Canada will respond with the additional duties and pressures of now being the head coach. But so far, he has looked calm in the face of adversity.” - Scott Greene, TerrapinSportsReport.com
Offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne, Penn State
Overview: Rahne has been in coach James Franklin’s system for many years and staying in-house should mean a relatively seamless transition from new Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead to Rahne. Figuring out the offense without Saquon Barkley will be important, but quarterback Trace McSorley is a veteran, the offensive line is better and the skill positions are stocked. That should ease the transition.
Reaction: “Two years of apprenticeship under Joe Moorhead isn’t a bad way to precede your first gig as an offensive coordinator, and both Ricky Rahne and Penn State’s offense will likely benefit as a result. In fact, that has a lot to do with why James Franklin went in-house to make the hire, obviously. He feels Rahne is ready for the job but also because by doing so, Penn State doesn’t have to deviate from what works. When the buy-in factor permeates the entire program, having to go outside and force a new coordinator to acclimate entirely to the old guy would have been a tough sell and Franklin himself has rejected the notion publicly, so that problem is avoided entirely.
“I do think that Rahne will be able to implement a natural evolution to the offense that would have happened with or without Moorhead, mostly because of the improvements in personnel, experience and depth that have transpired. I think they’ll be a little less reliant on feast-or-famine explosive plays and a little more focused on sustaining and prolonging drives. And with an improved offensive line, plenty of skill position talent and a veteran quarterback in McSorley leading the way, those seem like realistic changes.” - Nate Bauer, BlueWhiteIllustrated.com
Offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan, Washington
Overview: Hamdan played for Washington coach Chris Petersen at Boise State, so there is a cohesion between the two. Plus, Hamdan was the Huskies’ receivers coach when John Ross and Dante Pettis became two of the best receivers in the Pac-12. Last season, Hamdan was the quarterbacks coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Quarterback Jake Browning saw his numbers drastically dip last season, and getting him back on track could be a huge focus for Hamdan.
Reaction: “Bush Hamdan has already breathed a new burst of energy into the Washington Huskies' offense in fall camp, and the 2018 season should reflect a rejuvenated offense. One of the main concerns for UW will be the offensive line and finding cohesiveness while Trey Adams works back to full strength. The other challenge will be at TE and finding enough passing options through the first month of the season until Hunter Bryant returns. Now that also puts the onus on Browning, who excelled as a sophomore in 2016, when Hamdan was the passing game coordinator/WR coach. Hamdan has said a couple times during camp that he's seeing a return to the 2016 form in practice, and going against as good of a defense as there is in the country daily certainly prepares them well.” - Lars Hanson, TheDawgReport.com
Defensive coordinator Mike Elko, Texas A&M
Overview: Elko has established a reputation as one of the best up-and-coming defensive coordinators nationally, and he was one of the top targets for first-year coach Jimbo Fisher when he came to Texas A&M from Florida State. Elko helped turn around Notre Dame’s defense last season, and before that he did an excellent job at Wake Forest. The SEC is a different animal, but Elko has some talent to work with in College Station.
Reaction: “Elko has already proven to be adaptable, moving Kingsley Keke outside to defensive end and finding ways to get Anthony Hines on the field. Moving Keke maximizes the defense’s talent up front, as he starts with Daylon Mack, Justin Madubuike and Landis Durham. The linebackers are solid, the safeties look good and Charles Oliver is an above average corner. The big concerns are the other corner and linebacker depth.” - Mark Passwaters, AggieYell.com