It was clear from the start that Heupel was Odom's top choice for coordinator. The 37-year old Heupel, most known for quarterbacking Oklahoma's 2000 national championship squad, served as Oklahoma's QBs coach from 2006-10; during that span, the Sooners won four Big 12 titles, and Sam Bradford won the Heisman Trophy.
Heupel moved up to an offensive co-coordinator role in 2010, when coordinator Kevin Wilson took the Indiana head coaching job. In three of his four seasons calling the plays, OU ranked in the Off. S&P+ top 15. The Sooners even did so in 2014 when they finished 8-5 and Bob Stoops began looking for new blood to fill the coaching staff.
In his lone season as Utah State's coordinator, the Aggies have improved slightly -- from 77th in Off. S&P+ to 63rd -- despite a third consecutive year of injury at the quarterback position. Sophomore Kent Myers, spelling senior Chuckie Keeton, has completed 60 percent of his passes, averaged 7.4 yards per pass attempt, and pitched in 417 non-sack rushing yards (6.2 per carry). In comparison, Missouri's Drew Lock: 49 percent completion rate, 4.1 yards per pass attempt, 184 non-sack rushing yards (6.8 per carry).
That Odom will evidently get his first choice is unquestionably a good thing. But Heupel is obviously far from perfect. He always struck me as a David Yost type, one prone to overthinking at times. Establish a nice rhythm on the ground, then call five passes in six plays -- that sort of thing. Nothing drives a fanbase crazier than when a coordinator does that and it doesn't work. (It often does work, however.)
Heupel has proven in recent years that he very much tries to adapt to personnel at hand. At the start of his OU tenure, that meant a spread-out, high-tempo offense. In 2014, it meant slowing things down and handing the ball to Samaje Perine a lot. And at Utah State in 2015, it meant something similar:
Utah State Offensive Footprint
|Std. Downs Run Rate||59.5%||68||60.4%|
|Pass Downs Run Rate||37.7%||37||34.0%|
|% of Solo Tackles||65.2%||120||74.7%|
That's a run-heavy, slowed-down, not-very-spread-out attack.
Out of curiosity, I looked back at what I said when writing about Heupel this past spring when I was previewing Utah State. I had no inkling that he would be moving to Columbia a few months later and had no reason to be biased either way, and I was evidently pretty kind.
Wells brought on former Oklahoma offensive coordinator Josh Heupel to call the shots for [Chuckie] Keeton and company. From a "relationships grow stale" standpoint, it was the right time for a change in Norman; Bob Stoops needed new blood following the Sooners' unlucky slide to 8-5. But on paper, Heupel's performance as coordinator was solid. He inherited an offense that had ranked ninth in Off. S&P+ in 2010 and he went ninth, fifth, 44th, and 14th. The Sooners got by with smoke and mirrors during their 2013 Sugar Bowl run, but they rebounded last year despite an iffy passing game.
Heupel isn't bringing much change to the table; or at least, he isn't bringing the type you might expect.
Standard Downs %Run (2014): OU 68.1%, USU 60.9%
Passing Downs %Run (2014): OU 37.6%, USU 36.3%
Adj. Pace (2014): OU 23.9 seconds per play, USU 25.9
Last year's OU offense had a higher pace but ran more than two-thirds of the time on standard downs thanks to the presence of powerful freshman Samaje Perine. There's no Perine on this roster, but there are options, especially if Keeton's mobility hasn't been hurt much by knee injuries. JaLuan Hunt was inefficient, as freshmen tend to be, but he showed lovely explosiveness. Rashad Hall is a big option at 215 pounds, and incoming JUCO transfer Devante Mays is a 5'11, 225-pound bowling ball.
We'll dive more into Heupel's style and résumé in the coming days. For now, welcome, Josh. You'll look better in black and gold than crimson and cream.
One other note from the PowerMizzou report linked above:
At this point, Heupel joins Andy Hill, Cornell Ford and Ryan Walters on Odom’s staff. Sources have told PowerMizzou.com that Hill will return to coaching receivers at Missouri and Ford will move from coaching cornerbacks to running backs. Walters was the safeties coach last year, but his exact role at Mizzou going forward is not known at this time.
Assuming Heupel is coaching quarterbacks, that means that the offensive staff is now perhaps only missing an offensive line coach.