Skip to main content

Alex Golesh on Tennessee coach Josh Heupel: Football guy

Alex Golesh barely had been on staff with Josh Heupel for a year when Heupel made the leap last month from University of Central Florida head coach to the same role at the University of Tennessee.

Golesh, however, knew immediately that he wanted to accompany Heupel to Rocky Top.

After all, Golesh said Wednesday that he long had studied Heupel's frenetic, Mario Kart-paced offense prior to joining Heupel's staff.

So, naturally, Golesh was on the first chartered jet to Knoxville, Tennessee, last month, the day after Heupel was hired by Danny White to continue his work alongside Heupel.

“I always watched it from afar, studied it,” Golesh told reporters. “Really probably my last two years at Iowa State really dove into studying it. Incorporated a lot of those concepts.

“From afar, watching it, seeing it grow with two different quarterbacks (McKenzie Milton and Dillon Gabriel) I was fascinated by it. When the (UCF offensive coordinator) job came open, I was so intrigued to dive into it.”

Specifically, Golesh saw in Heupel a bit of an offensive mosaic; Heupel's got offensive roots in pro systems, particularly from his playing days, as well as a mixture of spread-offense and tempo influences.

Where a Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning carved legacies in distinctly pro-set systems, Heupel's cobbled together an offensive system more like a sports car with aftermarket enhancements.

“I think what makes Coach Heupel so unique is that he's kind of lived different lives offensively,” said Golesh, a Moscow, Russia, who played high school football but immediately transitioned into a student coaching role as an undergraduate at Ohio State. “From what he played in from when he was tight ends coach to quarterbacks coach to being able to coordinate it himself. Then moving on Utah State and Missouri and UCF, just how his process has grown into what it got to at UCF his first couple years there. I think what's unique about Coach Heup is his humility in terms of listening to ideas, seeing ideas. Never do you bring something up and it's the first time he's seen it or heard of it. His ability to adapt.

“He's a football guy. We'll sit all day and talk ball. Not the last two-and-a-half weeks here probably, but in a normal situation, setting, he is an incredible mind to sit and bounce ideas off of and really go round and round until you come up with what you believe is the best way to do it.”

Tennessee fans' first chance potentially to get a look at the Golesh-Heupel Volunteers offense is tentatively set for April 17. Multiple sources tell FootballScoop that Tennessee has preliminarily scheduled its annual spring-concluding Orange & White intrasquad scrimmage for the third Saturday in April, pending health and safety protocols.

In pre-COVID times, the Vols typically sought to host their camp exhibition in conjunction with spring sporting events also being hosted on Rocky Top. For this year's April weekend, Tennessee's resurgent baseball program also is scheduled to host rival and perennial national championship contender, Vanderbilt.

The Vols could attempt to have the spring finale with limited fans; they allowed Neyland Stadium to host not quite 20% of capacity during the 2020 football season.

However, the University of Florida already has announced it will not host a 2021 spring exhibition. The Gators, like all SEC teams a year ago, were forced to shelve their spring camps and annual fan-day scrimmages due to the coronavirus pandemic.