2021 Pac-12 Football Coaching Changes and Betting Notes

Pac-12 Coaches and Coordinators

WagerTalk handicapper Rob Veno breaks down the new coaches and coordinators in the Pac-12 this season. Which teams are introducing a new offense this year? Which teams are expected to play at a different tempo than previous seasons? Rob shares his Pac-12 coaching notes and how they will impact the upcoming season.

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Arizona Wildcats

New Head Coach: Jedd Fisch (1st season) – New England (NFL) QB coach 2020 / L.A. Rams (NFL) Asst OC 2019 & Sr Off Asst 2018 / UCLA OC & QB coach 2017 & IHC (L2G)
New Offensive Coordinator: Brennan Carroll (1st season) – OL coach since 2021 / Seattle (NFL) RGC 2020 & Asst OL coach 2015-’19 / Miami (Fla) WR coach 2013-’14 & TE coach 2011-’12
New Defensive Coordinator: Don Brown (1st season) – Michigan DC 2016-’20 / Boston College DC & LB coach 2013-’15

Coaching Notes:
Don Brown – Named new DC Jan 6, 2021
Brennan Carroll – Named new OC & OL coach Jan 1, 2021
Jedd Fisch – Named new HC Dec 23, 2020
Ex-DC Paul Rhoads (1 season) – Not retained for 2021 season / Accepted Ohio State Def Analyst position Feb 10, 2021
Ex-OC Noel Mazzone (3 seasons) – Not retained for 2021 season
Ex-HC – Kevin Sumlin (3 seasons) – Fired Dec 12, 2020

System & Changes: Offense – Spread / Defense – 4-3
Offense: The new system brought in by HC Fisch is radically different than the “Spread” which was run here in Tucson the past three seasons. His “Pro Style” offense will operate from under center about 35% of the snaps which is far different than the previous 100% usage of “shotgun” formations. The passing attack incorporates NFL style three, five and seven step drops along with play action passes. The tight end is a focal point and “12” personnel packages are being installed. The blocking schemes in the run and pass games are new as is the terminology so this is a total system overhaul. HC Fisch’s playbook has been to complex and to overwhelming at times on the college level so expecting the Wildcats to fully grasp the new concepts this season isn’t realistic. QB coach & PGC Jimmy Doughty said that everything was new to the offense during Spring Practices and the staff threw everything at them. The learning process is underway and continues into Fall Camp.

Defense: Arizona will be in their third defensive system in the last three years. From ex-DC Bates 4-2-5 to last season’s 3-4 under ex-DC Rhoads and now into veteran DC Brown’s blitz happy 4-3 scheme. Under new DC Brown, will take on his trademark aggressive characteristics. Brown’s system focuses on stuffing the run anchored by the front four and often enhanced by a blitzing OLB. CB’s will be placed in more man-man situations but they will at times be required to cheat off with Safety rotation help in order to help against the run and blow up short, quick passing routes. Early indications are that Brown’s adjustments to this defense are going over well with the players who are looking to improve on last year’s #116 national ranking.

Colorado Buffaloes

Head Coach: Karl Dorrell (2nd season) – Miami (NFL) Asst HC & WR coach 2019 / N.Y. Jets (NFL) WR coach 2015-’18 / Vanderbilt OC & QB coach 2014
Offensive Coordinator: Darrin Chiaverini (2nd season) – WR coach since 2016 / co-OC 2016-’18 & GDPC 2018 / Texas Tech OR coach 2015 & ST coach 2014-’15
New Defensive Coordinator: Chris Wilson (1st season) – DL coach since 2020 / Arizona (NFL) Def Asst 2019 / Philadelphia (NFL) DL coach 2018

Coaching Notes:
Chris Wilson – Promoted to DC Jan 29, 2021 / Will remain as DL coach
Ex-DC Tyson Summers (2 seasons) – Fired Jan 12, 2021 / Accepted Def Analyst position Apr 11, 2021

System & Changes: Offense – Multiple / Defense – Multiple
Defense: New HC Dorrell has kept stability within the program by promoting DL coach Wilson to DC. Wilson will keep the Buffaloes 3-4 formation but CU will not be committed to it as their base this season. He directed a 4-3 at Mississippi State and will use that look this season as well. The “Multiple” fronts will cater to current personnel and specific opponents. While the Buffaloes improved defensively last season, the complexity of the system prevented them to maximize their talent. The plan is to simplify the system in hopes that assignment understanding will lower the number of explosive plays allowed (42 of 20+ last season) and increase the number of takeaways (only 8 last year). There is not a massive learning curve here so improvement with 8 returning starters & 29 lettermen is a reasonable expectation.

Oregon Ducks

Head Coach: Mario Cristobal (4th season) – co-OC / OL coach & RGC 2017 / Alabama Asst HC & OL coach 2013-’16 / Florida-International HC 2007-’12
Offensive Coordinator: Joe Moorhead (2nd season) – QB coach since 2020 / Mississippi State HC & OC 2018-’19 / Penn State OC & QB coach 2016-’17
New Defensive Coordinator: Tim DeRuyter (1st season) – OLB coach since 2021 / Assoc HC since 2020 & OLB coach since 2018 / DC 2017-’19 & GDPC ’19 / OLB coach 2018 / ILB coach 2017 / Fresno St. HC 2012-’16

Coaching Notes:
Tim DeRuyter – Named new DC & OLB coach Jan 22, 2021
Ex co-DC Keith Heyward (3 seasons) – Accepted California OLB coach position Jan 28, 2021
Ex-DC Andy Avalos (2 seasons) – Accepted Boise State HC position Jan 9, 2021

System & Changes: Offense – Multiple Spread (RPO) / Defense – 3-4 Multiple (Nickel)
Defense: Oregon’s defense now has their 3rd coordinator in 4 years as ex-California co-DC Tim DeRuyter takes over. He is keeping the 3-4 Multiple system along with a lot of the concepts & terminology in order to keep things familiar for the talented returning roster. The Ducks will continue to utilize different fronts and nickel coverages. Last season the front seven learned to make changes either in their position or in the technique they played and this season the entire unit will do that as DC Avalos’s system required position swapping. The teaching and evaluation is much easier since assignments like the LEO position have already been learned. The LEO was made famous by the NFL Seattle Seahawks and requires a hybrid DE who is a fierce edge rusher first but capable as a pass coverage LB. With a lot of the work done in shifting systems last year, this Spring and Fall can be used to refine things while joining DeRuyter’s playbook with the prior one. Spring camp saw HC Cristobal praise his new DC for his ability to teach in a way that eliminates confusion and create a much easier way for the players to learn & communicate.

Washington Huskies

New Defensive Coordinator: Bob Gregory (1st season) – ILB coach & GDPC since 2021 / LB coach 2014-’20 & ST coach 2016-’20 / Boise State LB coach 2010-’13 & IHC (Bowl Game) 2013
Ikaika Malloe (2nd season) – OLB coach since 2021 / DL coach 2016-’20 / Utah State DL coach 2014-’15 / Portland State (FCS) STC & DT coach 2012-’13

Coaching Notes:
Bob Gregory – Promoted to DC Feb 1, 2021 / Was previously LB coach & STC (will now assume ILB coach position)
Pete Kwiatowski (7 seasons) – Accepted Texas DC & OLB positions Jan 19, 2021

System & Changes: Offense – Pro-Style / Defense – “Nickel” (2-4-5)
Defense: DC Gregory change titles this season but the defensive system here remains the same as it was last year under the direction of HC Lake & ex-DC Kwiatowski. 2nd 2nd year co-DC Malloe has also been in this system having coached the defensive line since 2016. In his 1st season as HC, Lake molded the Huskies into a unique “Nickel” Base defense which uses just two interior linemen flanked by perimeter hybrids giving it a 2-4-5 look.. Gregory will take over the gameday play calling duties from Lake but the HC will remain extremely involved in the weekly game planning.


Meet the Capper: Rob Veno

Rob Veno has been entrenched in the sports handicapping community for nearly three decades. He was a major component in the success of Sportsmemo from its inception as a daily radio show in 1998. Robโ€™s fundamental analysis of football, basketball and baseball on the college and pro levels has him regarded as one of the best in the business at breaking down games. Rob began to make an imprint on the Las Vegas scene in the mid-1990โ€™s with his weekly football and basketball newsletter which contained game selections and analysis. Las Vegasโ€™ Gamblerโ€™s Book Club along with sportsbooks on and off the strip carried the publication which expanded his recognition. He was subsequently invited into Las Vegasโ€™ most prestigious handicapping contests of that time, the Stardust Invitational in 1996 and 2004 and the Sunset Station Invitational in 2000. A veteran of sports handicapping radio, Rob began in 1992 by co-hosting a weekly Friday night show at 840 AM KVEG. He went on to do numerous live shows as a guest analyst from casino sportsbooks across the Las Vegas valley working with a litany of respected hosts and the most recognized handicappers in the business. Rob finally settled in as one of the mainstays on the daily Vegas Sportswire betting show which ultimately became the famed Sportsmemo Radio Show and subsequent podcast. His expertise has been heard on radio stations across the country over the years as heโ€™s done a multitude of guest analyst segments. Rob joined WagerTalk in the summer of 2020 and has quickly become a prominent member of their world class handicapping roster.

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College Football Offseason Previews

In this week’s edition of The Best Damn College Football Show, Drew Martin and Rob Veno offer an early look toward the Pac-12 North division. Rob and Drew take a look at the new coaches and quarterback transfers that are coming into the Pac-12 North this season. Who is a mid-pack team that might surprise some people and make a move up this year, and who is a team to fade that might struggle this year?


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