Heupel’s career includes record-setting offense, limited head coaching experience

Orange and White Nation

Heupel was the third coach in history to lead a team to an undefeated regular season in his first year of coaching

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — New Tennessee coach Josh Heupel’s head coaching resumé has been short but his stint as assistant coach and work with quarterbacks speaks to why he was hired to lead the Vols.

Heupel will be Tennessee’s 27th head coach and the fifth to lead the program since Phillip Fulmer was let go following the 2008 season. Heupel, the 2000 Heisman Trophy runner-up to 2020 Tennessee assistant coach Chris Weinke, has a long list of successful quarterbacks under his name.

Before taking over at Central Florida, Heupel served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Missouri from 2016-17. Mizzou quarterback Drew Lock led the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and set the Southeastern Conference record for passing touchdowns in a season, 44, and was named first-team All-SEC.

Lock is now the quarterback for the Denver Broncos.

Before his two-year stint in the SEC, Heupel was assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Utah State during the 2015 season. Aggies quarterbacks Kent Myers and Chuckie Keeton combined for more than 2,500 yards passing and 500 yards rushing that year.

His first major coaching role came at his alma mater, Oklahoma. From 2006 to 2014, Heupel was quarterbacks coach for, most noticeably, Sam Bradford and Landry Jones.

Bradford won the Heisman Trophy in 2008 and was the first pick overall in the 2010 NFL Draft by the then-St. Louis Rams. Jones ranks third in NCAA history for career passing yards.

In 2008, his sophomore year, Bradford completed 67.9% of his passes for 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns. He also ran for five touchdowns that year and threw just eight interceptions.

Heupel has been coach of Central Florida for three years with a record of 28-8, including a perfect 12-1 in his first season with the Knights after Scott Frost left to lead Nebraska. Heupel’s only loss in 2018 was to No. 11 LSU in the Fiesta Bowl, 40-32.

Quarterback McKenzie Milton won the 2018 AAC Offensive Player of the Year in Heupel’s first season at UCF. Milton announced in December he would transfer to Florida State University.

Dillon Gabriel set a school record for passing yards with 3,653 in 2019, Heupel’s second season as head coach.

Last season, UCF went 6-4 with only one out-of-conference game on the schedule. The Knights opened the season with a 49-21 win over Georgia Tech. Two of their losses came against Memphis, 49-50, and No. 7 Cincinnati, 33-36.

UCF has been among the top 10 offenses in the NCAA FBS the last three years. Under Heupel, the Knights were eighth in points per game, 42.2, last year; fifth in 2019 (43.4); and sixth in 2018 (43.2).

The Knights also ranked in the top five in total offense per game in each of the past three seasons —second in 2020 (568.1), second in 2019 (540.5) and fourth in 2018 (522.7). UCF was the only school in the nation to rank in the top five in total offense in all three years.

“We brought Danny White in to hire a talented coach who can be here for a long time and build a championship program,” UT Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman said. “Coach Heupel has compiled an impressive record, and I think Vols fans can look forward to a bright and exciting future. We are delighted to welcome him and his family to Tennessee.” 

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