FootballScoop is proud to announce that Rob Sale and DJ Looney are the 2020 FootballScoop Offensive Line Coaches of the Year presented by AstroTurf as selected by prior winners.
Amid the most tying of times, Louisiana's offensive line put in its best work this fall.
Assistant offensive line coach DJ Looney died on Aug. 1, overtaken by a heart attack suffered during a team workout. He was just 31 years old.
“For those who knew DJ Looney, we can all agree we were better because of it. We lost a tremendous coach, leader and person today,” head coach Billy Napier said at the time. “He sincerely cared for others. He had a unique ability to impact and encourage people in a positive way.”
Though Looney's body was no longer present, his spirit remained with the team throughout what turned out to be the best season in Cajun football history. The year began with a 17-point victory over eventual Big 12 runner-up and Fiesta Bowl champion Iowa State, and from there the Ragin' Cajuns romped to a 10-1 record, a Sun Belt co-championship and a No. 15 AP poll finish, the first in school history.
All of that was made possible by an offensive line that controlled the line of scrimmage week in and week out.
On the ground, UL charged for 213 yards per game (21st) on 5.46 yards per carry (12th) and 25 touchdowns (17th).
As a unit, Louisiana ran 739 plays for 4,637 yards (6.27 a play) while scoring 33.6 points per game, a mark that ranked third in the Sun Belt. Louisiana's 167 gains of 10-plus yards was a top-30 number nationally.
"This is a tremendous honor and a fitting tribute to a person that WE miss greatly, D.J. Looney," Napier told FootballScoop. "Rob Sale and D.J. Looney worked together to create an attitude and atmosphere for OUR offensive linemen to thrive in. Their 5=1 mantra has permeated throughout the rest of OUR facility. The selfless approach of this position group has greatly contributed to OUR #cULture.”
Junior Max Mitchell and sophomore O'Cyrus Torrance were named Second Team All-Sun Belt performers, while senior Ken Marks and junior Shane Vallot were Third Team All-Sun Belt honorees.
Sale, also Louisiana's offensive coordinator, was in his third season at UL. The LSU graduate entered college coaching as a strength and conditioning assistant and offensive analyst at Alabama from 2007-11. He left there for three seasons at McNeese State, where he was the Cowboys' offensive line coach in 2012-13 and the offensive coordinator in 2014. He then returned to FBS as the offensive line coach at ULM, Georgia and Arizona State.
A Mississippi State graduate, Looney began coaching as a GA at his alma mater. He then became the offensive line coach at East Mississippi Community College, then spent 2014-15 as the tackles and tight ends coach at Central Arkansas. He returned to the SEC as a graduate assistant at Georgia in 2016, then became Mississippi State's tight ends coach in 2017. The 2020 campaign would've been his third with the Ragin' Cajuns program.
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 (Josh Henson [Texas A&M], Kyle Flood [Alabama], Scott Fuchs [Buffalo], Greg Studrawa [Ohio State] and Sale/Looney) 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 Offensive Line Coach of the Year award are Steve Greatwood (Oregon, 2008), Tony Wise (Pittsburgh, 2009), Bob Bostad (Wisconsin, 2010) Greg Studrawa (LSU, 2011), Ed Warinner (Ohio State, 2012 and 2014), Mike Bloomgren (Stanford, 2013), Tom Manning (Toledo, 2015), Brian Callahan/Bill Kenney (Western Michigan, 2016), Bill Bedenbaugh (Oklahoma, 2017), Glen Elarbee (UCF, 2018) and James Cregg (LSU, 2019).
5th Nationally - TFLs Allowed
12th Nationally - Yards Per Carry
7th Nationally - Sacks Allowed
1st AP Top 25 finish in school history
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