Bio Blast: Bush Hamdan

On3 imageby:Adam Luckett02/11/24


Boise State OC Bush Hamdan Full Interview with Andy Staples | Boise State in Mountain West, Future of the Coaching Search | 11.30.23

The waiting is over. Boise State offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan is scheduled to become the sixth offensive coordinator at Kentucky in the Mark Stoops era. The Big Blue Nation has spent the last 24 hours attempting to uncover who Hamdan is.

Nick Roush got the party started for us on Saturday with a quick rundown of Bush Hamdan’s work history and what he has accomplished. The 38-year-old brings play-calling chops and some extensive SEC work experience to Kentucky on top of being a part of winning programs with conference championship rings and a College Football Playoff appearance from his time with Washington (2015-16, 2018-19) and Boise State (2023).

KSR’s Bio Blast will go just a bit deeper on Super Bowl Sunday. The former Boise State quarterback comes from a strong coaching tree and checks some important boxes for Mark Stoops from a philosophy standpoint.

Run the football

Kentucky is at its best under head coach Mark Stoops when the Wildcats are able to establish the run. Getting the passing game rolling has been quite the chore under the former Florida State defensive coordinator, but this has been a program that has been able to get downhill and have some success in the run game with seven 1,000-yard rushers since 2016.

Kentucky wants to run the football. Bush Hamdan has led three offenses that have been able to establish the run.

Myles Gaskin (1,268 yards), Salvon Ahmed (1,020 yards), and Ashton Jeanty (1,347 yards) all went over 1,000 rushing yards as the feature back in Hamdan’s offense. This past season at Boise State, Hamdan sprinkled in some quarterback run and that led to the Broncos finishing No. 7 in rushing offense (214.9 yards per game).

In his three years on the staff at Missouri, Hamdan was part of a staff that saw Tyler Badie lead the SEC in rushing yards (1,604) and rushing touchdowns (14) in 2021. On tape, Hamdan shows a blend using stretch zone, mid zone and mixing in some gap schemes. Boise State operating out of spread sets and were not afraid to get into 12 personnel looks.

Mark Stoops wants to run the football. Bush Hamdan offenses can run the football.

Staying ahead of the chains

There has been a ton of talk surrounding the Kentucky offense regarding pace of play. The Wildcats finished dead last in college football in 2023 with 714 total snaps. Mark Stooops will never have an offense that relies heavily on tempo, but Kentucky has to find a way to play at a quicker pace.

Staying ahead of the chains should be the first order of business at the Joe Craft Football Training Facility this offseason.

After finishing No. 5 in offensive success rate in 2021, we’ve seen the Kentucky offense fall off a cliff from a down-to-down efficiency standpoint the last two seasons. As the Wildcats struggled to block in the run game, the passing game was unable to provide the needed efficiency. The offense finished No. 92 in success rate in 2022 and No. 102 in success rate in 2023. Kentucky could not stay ahead of the chains and that led to a ton of short possessions.

Bush Hamdan has yet to field an inefficient offense.

  • 2018: No. 37 in success rate (43.6%)
  • 2019: No. 28 in success rate (44.7%)
  • 2023: No. 33 in success rate (43.8%)

The Broncos were ruthlessly efficient on the ground (No. 12 in success rate) in 2023 with Ashton Jeanty and George Holani combining to rush for 2,095 yards on 5.9 yards per rush with 21 total touchdowns. Hamdan’s two Washington offenses also finished inside the top 50 in rushing success rate.

The passing game has also shown the ability to carry the efficiency load. Jake Browning (2018) and Jacob Eason (2019) each threw for over 3,000 yards under Hamdan and led passing games that ranked inside the top 40 in passing success rate.

Kentucky’s new play-caller has produced offenses that play ahead of the chains. At Boise State, Bush Hamdan’s offense operating often in no huddle allowing the offense to get to the line of scrimmage quickly. That will also help UK speed up the pace of play on offense.

Tight end usage

I’m not sure any other fan base in college football loves the tight end position as much as Kentucky. James Whalen started a movement in the Bluegrass in 1999 that only grew stronger with Jacob Tamme catching balls from Andre Woodson in 2006 and 2007.

Kentucky’s coaching staff has also shown that they value the tight end position. The Wildcats will have five scholarship tight ends on the roster. Jordan Dingle, Josh Kattus, and Khamari Anderson each played a big role last season. Each will need to be utilized in 2023.

Bush Hamdan has shown a willingness to use the tight end position.

Boise State had two tight ends play over 400 snaps in 2023. Hunter Bryant was Washington’s top receiver in 2019 leading the Huskies in receiving yards (825) and ranking second on the team in targets (80) and receptions (52).

Kentucky has a strong tight end position that must be efficiently utilized. Bush Hamdan has placed value on the tight end position during his play-calling career.

Finishing drives

The name of the game is scoring points. That has been a struggle for Kentucky under Mark Stoops more times than not.

The Wildcats finished 2023 ranked No. 51 in points per drive (2.35). That was the second-highest output of the Stoops era behind Liam Coen’s 2021 offense that finished No. 15 in points per drive (2.94). Finishing drives has long been an issue for this program.

Bush Hamdan’s three offenses have all been able to finish drives with points.

  • 2018: No. 35 in points per drive (2.42)
  • 2019: No. 27 in points per drive (2.64)
  • 2023: No. 17 in points per drive (2.82)

In this three-game stint as a play-caller at Missouri, Hamdan helped guide the Tigers to a 2-1 finish as the offense scored 98 points in their final three games. The track record is small, but the results are promising.

Finishing drives in scoring territory has been an issue with each offense ranking sub-40 in red zone touchdown percentage, but two of Hamdan’s offense have ranked in the top 20 in third down conversion rate.

Bush Hamdan’s offense have balance, stay ahead of the chains, and finish drives with points. The latter is something that Kentucky has struggled to do without Coen.

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