Back by overwhelming demand, FootballScoop will once again examine the assistant coaching hires that will have the biggest impact on the college football season and the coaching job market in the 2019 season and beyond.
No. 19: Bryan Brown, Louisville
No. 18: Phil Longo, North Carolina
No. 17: Les Koenning, Kansas
No. 16: Andy Avalos, Oregon
No. 15: Joe Cauthen, Houston
No. 14: Bodie Reeder, North Texas
No. 13: Mike MacIntyre, Ole Miss
No. 12: Andy Ludwig, Utah
No. 11: Kenny Dillingham, Auburn
No. 10: Jim Chaney, Tennessee
No. 9: Sean Gleeson, Oklahoma State
No. 8: Dan Enos, Miami
Who: Kendal Briles, Florida State
Title: Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach
Previous stop: Houston associate head coach/offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2018)
Why he's important: I could spill a lot of words explaining the immediate impact Briles can have, or I can shut my mouth and let the numbers do the talking.
Briles coordinated the offense at Florida Atlantic in 2017. That year is in bold.
Points Per Game
Yards Per Play
Rushing Yards Per Game
And here he is at Houston last fall.
Points Per Game
Yards Per Play
Rushing Yards Per Game
I could go on, but you get the point. Briles shows up, and suddenly the offense scores two extra touchdowns a game.
Willie Taggart needs that. He needs it like a mammal needs oxygen. In case you don't remember, the long awaited debut season in his dream job was pretty much a nightmare that took three months to play out.
There was the 24-3 home loss to Virginia Tech in the opener -- in front of a national audience on Labor Day night. There was the 13-0 deficit to Samford. The 30-7 loss at Syracuse. The 27-7 lead over Miami turning into a 28-27 loss. The 59-10 home loss to Clemson. This guy. And then the 41-14 loss to Florida to snap the FBS record 36-year bowl streak.
Dig into the numbers, though, and it actually gets more depressing. Florida State was 127th in rushing and 129th in yards per carry. In fact, the 'Noles produced one 100-yard rusher all season. Let me be clear: I'm not just saying the same guy produced all of FSU's 100-yard rushing efforts, I'm saying that guy did it only one time across all 12 games.
It's hard to blame offensive coordinator Walt Bell -- now the head coach at UMass -- too much, if at all. You can't call what you can't block, and Florida State couldn't block anyone. The Seminoles were 128th in tackles for loss allowed and 109th in sacks allowed. In fact, picking their own quarterback up off the turf has become a Florida State tradition as frequent as the War Chant. Florida State has ranked 100th or worse in sacks allowed six of the last eight seasons and hasn't finished higher than 75th!!! in that category since 2010... and even then they were 54th.
To that end, Briles brought along Randy Clements, the general contractor to his role as offensive architect. Aside from a brief breakup in 2017, Briles and Clements have worked together continuously since 2008 -- Briles' entire coaching career.
"It all goes together. It all starts up front," Taggart told the Tallahassee Democrat in June.
"Our offense is so tied into being able to run and throw off of things, so having a guy that understands it, the adjustments, what needs to be done, the personnel, all that tied in is huge," Briles told reporters recently.
Florida State fans have been treated to the OMG, We have no playbook! stories that are a Briles staple anywhere he goes, but this is old hat for him at this point. He literally grew up in the offense. We know it works, the numbers above prove it.
But, let's be honest, there's a reason Taggart took on Briles and Clements, baggage and all. He really didn't have any other choice. Eight different GoFundMe accounts were created to pay Taggart's $21 million buyout... after his third game. There were Seminole fans in their 40s who had no memory of sitting through a losing season before last year. The children of kings and queens who look at Florida State fans and ask themselves how someone can be so spoiled. That's the job, and Taggart hired Briles and Clements to help him keep it.
This being Florida State, talent exists at the skill positions. Running back Cam Akers, now a junior, inspired serious football people to predict he'd become the first true freshman to win the Heisman Trophy upon enrolling at Florida State. "If we put all the skill together, it may be one of the best (teams) I've been around," Briles said.
Expect Briles to get the ball out of quarterback James Blackman's hands as often and as quickly as possible -- even amid optimism along the offensive line, at present there's only one scholarship quarterback eligible to play behind him.
Taggart has been through this before. He went 2-10 in his debut at South Florida and had the Bulls at 10-2 three years after that. His second Western Kentucky team improved by five wins from Year 1 to Year 2. Given the state of the offensive line, it's hard to imagine this offense throwing up 35 points a game, which would represent a two-touchdown improvement from 2018. Simply not finishing at or near the bottom of the ACC in scoring, yards per play, rushing, sacks allowed, third down conversions -- you get the point -- would represent an immediate massive improvement.
And if immediate massive improvement is what Taggart wants, he hired the right guy.