FootballScoop is proud to announce that Zach Kittley (Western Kentucky) is the 2021 FootballScoop Quarterbacks Coach of the Year, presented by AstroTurf as selected by prior winners.
In his one season at Western Kentucky, Zach Kittley simply set every opposing defense on fire.
He arrived in Bowling Green last winter from Houston Baptist, alongside HBU quarterback Bailey Zappe and leading receivers Jerreth and Josh Sterns. That group put together one of the best passing attacks at the FCS level in 2020, and in 2021 they were the very best in college football's highest division, the Football Bowls Subdivision.
Zappe, who claimed one FCS offer out of Victoria (Texas) East High School, led FBS in passing and did so by a figurative mile. He completed 475-of-686 passes (69.2 percent) for 5,967 yards with 62 touchdowns against 11 interceptions across WKU's 14 games.
His 5,967 yards broke BJ Symons' 18-year-old FBS single-season passing record, and his 62 touchdowns topped Joe Burrow's 60 for the most in a single season.
And while Zappe's 5,967 yards were compiled over 14 games to Symons' 13, Zappe actually needed fewer attempts to break Symons' record than Symons needed to set it. Zappe hoisted "just" 686 passes to Symons' 719, but he managed to complete five more passes for 134 more yards on 33 fewer throws.
Despite leading FBS in attempts, Zappe was still among the most efficient passers in the game. His 8.7 yards per attempt were top 20 nationally and rated 11th among all players with at least 300 attempts. His 168.92 efficiency rating placed seventh nationally; among the six players ahead of him, the only within 200 attempts of Zappe's 686 was Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young.
Zappe opened the season by torching UT-Martin, hitting 80 percent of his 35 throws for 424 yards and seven touchdowns in a 59-21 win. He fired at least three touchdowns in all 14 games, and threw at least five scores six times.
The Conference USA MVP was at his best when it mattered most. He threw for 328 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in WKU's C-USA East Division-clinching win over Marshall to close the regular season. In the title game, Zappe threw for 577 yards -- a C-USA Championship record, second most in WKU history and fifth in C-USA history -- and four touchdowns in a 49-41 loss. In the Boca Raton Bowl, Zappe went 33-of-47 for 422 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions in a 59-38 win over Appalachian State.
In addition to coaching quarterbacks, Kittley was also Western Kentucky's offensive coordinator. The Hilltoppers went from 19 points per game to 44.2 from 2020-21, trailing only Ohio State for the most in the nation. The Hilltoppers leaped from 120th in total offense and 117th in yards per play to second and third, respectively. Relatedly, WKU went from 5-7 in 2020 to 9-5 with a division championship and a bowl championship in '21.
A Lubbock, Texas, native, Kittley signed with Abilene Christian to play basketball but eventually returned home to begin student coaching under Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech. The 30-year-old coached at Tech from 2013-17, then spent 2018-20 as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Houston Baptist. He has since returned home a second time to be the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Texas Tech.
“I’m really, really happy for him,” WKU head coach Tyson Helton said. “He has done a tremendous job as well and his body of work speaks for itself.”
“Zach Kittley represents one of the top, young offensive minds in college football, and we are thrilled to add him to our staff as offensive coordinator,” new Red Raiders head coach Joey McGuire said. “In a short amount of time, Zach has built a reputation as an innovative play-caller and effective developer of quarterbacks. We’re excited to welcome him and his family back home to Texas Tech.”
The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by AstroTurf are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Corey Dennis [Ohio State], Rhett Lashlee [Miami], Bill O'Brien [Alabama], Mark Whipple [Pittsburgh] and Kittley) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel. The prior winners selected this year's winner.
Previous winners of the Quarterbacks Coach of the Year award are Josh Heupel (Oklahoma, 2008), Tom Rossley (Texas A&M, 2009), Mark Helfrich (Oregon, 2010 and 2012), Philip Montgomery (Baylor, 2011), Randy Sanders (Florida State, 2013), Kevin McGiven (Utah State, 2014), Mike Sanford (Notre Dame, 2015), Tyson Helton (USC, 2016), Jim Chaney (Georgia, 2017), Tom Rees (Notre Dame, 2018), Steve Ensminger (LSU, 2019), and Aaron Roderick (BYU, 2020).
FBS Record - Passing Yards
2nd Nationally - Scoring Offense
FBS Record - Passing Touchodwns
2nd Nationally - Total Offense
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