Oregon Football: Will New OC Scott Frost Be Successful?
Scott Frost was just promoted to one of the most glamorous positions in all of college football: offensive coordinator for the Oregon Ducks.
In case you've been stuck in an airplane circling Chicago, Frost takes over the OC position from Mark Helfrich, who was promoted to head coach to succeed Chip Kelly. If you're just learning this news, I'm sorry for the lack of spoiler alert.
To recap, Kelly, who is now the coach of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, took defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro with him. So, that means there will be three assistant coaches in new roles for Oregon in 2013.
Today, let's look at the Ducks' new offensive coordinator and his chances for success.
If a sterling background in college football is any indication of future success in the coaching ranks, the 38-year-old Frost should be the latest in a long line of superstar OC's at Oregon.
Frost was a national championship quarterback at Nebraska, who went on to a six-year NFL career. According to his official bio on GoDucks.com, Frost began his collegiate career as a two-year letterman at Stanford before transferring to Nebraska.
The Lincoln, NE native quarterbacked the Huskers to the 1997 national championship and a 42-17 Orange Bowl win over Tennessee (the national polls were actually split, with the AP giving it to Michigan, and the USA Today/Coach's Poll going to Nebraska.)
It would appear the system for determining the national champion didn't work any better in the old days than it does now.
One especially relevant statistic from Frost's collegiate career is that in his senior season at Nebraska, he became the tenth player in college football history to both run (1,095 yards) and pass (1,237 yards) for 1,000 yards in a single season.
After taking Nebraska to a 13-0 record in 1997, Frost was drafted by the New York Jets in the third round of the 1998 NFL Draft. He played six years in the NFL as a defensive back for New York, Cleveland, Green Bay and Tampa Bay.
It's interesting to note that Frost's playing years put him in close proximity to some of football's best minds: Stanford's Bill Walsh, Nebraska's Tom Osborne and the NY Jets' Bill Parcels. And having Chip Kelly as a boss didn't hurt either.
After his NFL playing days ended, Frost returned to his roots, breaking into the coaching ranks at Nebraska. After four years as a graduate assistant there, Frost went to Kansas State for one year before getting his first full-time gig as linebackers coach at Northern Iowa.
Prior to being hired as receivers coach at Oregon in 2009, Frost had been promoted to co-defensive coordinator at Northern Iowa. Chip Kelly also had defensive coaching experience before he became an offensive guru (Columbia University and John Hopkins University in his early years.)
What Might Change?
New head coach Mark Helfrich has said that Oregon fans won't see wide-scale changes with the offense. And you have to believe that the Ducks will still be primarily a run-first team. Although...
Even without the likely addition of 4-star wide receiver recruits Devon Allen and Darren Carrington, the Ducks are loaded at the position (Carrington's verbal commitment is "soft", as he visits other schools in the wake of Chip Kelly's departure.)
With Josh Huff's acquittal on DUII charges last week, Oregon should return every starting and backup wide receiver. Frost has been instrumental in instilling toughness in the Ducks' wide receivers, making them better downfield blockers.
However, even with the loss of Oregon's two top receivers in 2010 (Jeff Maehl and Drew Davis) and with the emergence of the world's best all-time running back, LaMichael James (personal opinion, TBD at some point in the future), the Ducks passed for 3,130 yards in 2011 on 236 completions.
Last season, Oregon passed for only 2,888 yards on 250 completions. One could make the case that the Ducks didn't need to pass as much, because Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas usually put the game away on their running by the end of the first half.
That may happen again in 2013 with the talented trio of Byron Marshall, Thomas Tyner and Dontre Wilson sharing RB duties. But don't be surprised if the Ducks' passing completions go up this year.
When a team has a true dual-threat QB as the Ducks do with Marcus Mariota, his running ability usually gets more press than his passing. But Mariota showed that he has the arm. With Frost's knowledge of and trust in Oregon's wide receivers, expect a few more passes in the play calling.
Criteria For Success
How will you decide if Scott Frost has a successful first year as Oregon's offensive coordinator?
If the Ducks win all 12 regular season games, the Pac-12 Championship and the BCS National Championship, it's easy-peasy, and Chip who?
But if Oregon falls short in 2013, disappointed fans will start poring over the stats. While Helfrich will get most of the blame if the Ducks see a drop-off this year, any step backwards in offensive production will cast a shadow on Frost.
Oregon finished the season ranked No. 2 nationally in scoring offense and No. 5 in total offense. Gaudy statistics, yes, but the bar has been set.
Will Scott Frost meet the challenge? Everything leading up to this moment in his life says that Frost is a winner.
Expect it to continue in his new role.
Kay Jennings is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.
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