Each week, On3’s Mike Huguenin and Matt Zenitz will spotlight six games with interesting coordinator matchups. The proverbial “chess match” between the coordinators very well could determine the outcome.
Here are the six in Week Two.
South Carolina at Arkansas
Time/TV: Noon, ESPN
The coordinator matchup: South Carolina OC Marcus Satterfield vs. Arkansas DC Barry Odom
The buzz: The first game for South Carolina transfer QB Spencer Rattler was underwhelming, so Satterfield needs to find some answers – and quick. The Gamecocks’ rushing attack was nonexistent last week, finishing with 79 yards. A one-dimensional passing offense will get Rattler put on his back frequently. The Gamecocks’ offensive line struggled with Georgia State last week, and Odom figures to have cooked up some interesting blitz packages this week. Transfer LB Drew Sanders could play a big role for the Hogs; while he lines up at middle linebacker, Odom moves him around and you figure he will come off the edge a few times against the Gamecocks.
Houston at Texas Tech, 4 p.m.
Time/TV: 4 p.m., FS1
The coordinator matchup: Texas Tech OC Zach Kittley vs. Houston DC Doug Belk
The buzz: Two hot young coordinators go at it. Two seasons ago, Kittley was OC at FCS Houston Baptist. Last season, his Western Kentucky pass offense led the nation and QB Bailey Zappe (who came with Kittley from Houston Baptist) set FBS records for passing yards and passing TDs. Now Kittley – a Texas Tech alum and Lubbock native – is back home. Red Raiders starting QB Tyler Shough is injured, but second-teamer Donovan Smith has a lot of experience and is more athletic than Shough. Belk, who turned down some Power 5 job opportunities in the offseason, will need to find a way to get pressure on Smith despite Tech using a lot of quick passes. Both Houston corners are in their first season as fulltime starters – and one of them, Alex Hogan, transferred from Texas Tech after the 2020 season.
Iowa State at Iowa
TV: 4 p.m., Big Ten Network
The coordinator matchup: Iowa State OC Tom Manning vs. Iowa DC Phil Parker
The buzz: Iowa has won six in a row in the series, and Manning has been Iowa State’s OC for four of them (2016-17, 2019, last season). In those four games, Iowa State has averaged 19.5 points (and that’s skewed because of a 41-point outing in 2017). Iowa State has a new quarterback (Hunter Dekkers) and a new running back (Jirehl Brock), but you can be sure Parker isn’t going to do much differently. Iowa wants its defensive linemen to muck up things at the line so the linebackers can make plays and the secondary be ballhawks. In Manning’s 0-4 streak against Iowa, Cyclones quarterbacks have thrown five picks. You’d think Manning would play it close to the vest, given that Iowa’s offense isn’t much. (We are being kind with that description.)
Washington State at Wisconsin
Time/TV: 4:30 p.m., Fox
The coordinator matchup: Washington State OC Eric Morris vs. Wisconsin DC Jim Leonhard
The buzz: Leonhard is one of the best DCs in the nation and he turned down some NFL entreaties in the offseason to remain at his alma mater. The Badgers don’t do anything fancy; they just do a great job disrupting everything an opposing offense wants to do. Morris is off the Mike Leach tree and is going to throw it around; this is his first season with the Cougars after spending the past four as coach at FCS Incarnate Word. The Badgers have an all-new starting secondary and the group wasn’t tested last week against Illinois State. It will be this week. The Badgers’ Nick Herbig is a playmaker off the edge. Leonhard finds unique ways to mix coverages behind a front that applies consistent pressure. If the Cougars can protect QB Cameron Ward, this could be interesting.
Kentucky at Florida
Time/TV: 7 p.m., ESPN
The coordinator matchup: Kentucky OC Rich Scangarello vs. Florida DC Patrick Toney
The buzz: Scangarello replaced Liam Coen after the 2021 season; Coen went back to the NFL as OC of the Los Angeles Rams, while Scangarello was hired off the San Francisco 49ers’ staff (he was quarterback coach). Toney, meanwhile, was Louisiana’s DC last season and followed Billy Napier to Florida. Scangarello will be shorthanded Saturday; star RB Chris Rodriguez Jr. is suspended and backup RB Ramon Jefferson is injured and out for the season. Thus, Scangarello figures to lean more heavily on QB Will Levis, who had his worst game of the season in 2021 against Florida (7-of-17, 87 yards). Florida’s defensive front lacks proven depth, but can Scangarello and UK take advantage with RB Kavosiey Smoke? UK ran for 50 yards last week against Miami (Ohio). Florida thinks its secondary is better than it was last season, with CB Jason Marshall the guy to watch.
Baylor at BYU
Time/TV: 10:15 p.m., ESPN
The coordinator matchup: Baylor OC Jeff Grimes vs. BYU DC Ilaisa Tuiaki
The buzz: Baylor OC Jeff Grimes is in his second season with the Bears after serving three seasons in the same role at BYU. Grimes runs what he calls “RVO” – a “Reliable Violent Offense” that uses multiple formations and a lot of misdirection. He’s breaking in a new starting quarterback (Blake Shapen), new feature back (Taye McWilliams) and a new go-to receiver (still unknown). Baylor’s line, though, returns four starters and has two standouts in C Jacob Gall and T Connor Galvin. BYU’s defense is strong in the front seven, especially at linebacker. Do Tuiaki and the Cougars feel comfortable enough with their secondary to truly stack the box and force Baylor to throw? This will be an extremely physical affair.