Seth Littrell fired his offensive and defensive coordinators Bodie Reeder and Troy Reffett, respectively. That one was just hired this past offseason and the other one of the first hires, it showed that Littrell was ready to make some changes. The team went 3-5, 4-8 in a season where they were at least expecting to go bowling.
The defense has long been criticized at NT, and Littrell has frequently defended his defensive coaches at press conferences and media scrums. That he has had to do that is something of a indictment on the coaches he was defending. The offensive side is a little different and frankly, more concerning. At 2019 Media Days he said he was going to be more involved — something we noted again recently — and yet his coordinator gets the axe instead of himself. The perks of being the head coach, eh?
We wrote about the offensive struggles before (linked above):
Against Charlotte and UTEP, two of the worst defensive teams in the league, Mason Fine threw for 12 touchdowns and the offense looked explosive and dangerous. Against Tech and Rice, however, it looked stuck and maybe overmatched.
Mason Fine’s senior season was wasted on the field. In his post game press conference Fine talked about how much he will learn from this in his life and while true, it does not make any Mean Green fans feel better. Fine asked if he could have been a better leader this offseason and if that was perhaps why they were losing so much. Maybe hearing that spurred Littrell into action.
Littrell is still learning how to do this job — four years into the head coaching role is still a baby in the profession — so he can be forgiven for making a mistake. Especially if he learns from it. While this year brought new offensive concerns in the way of slow starts and poor understanding across the skill positions, the offense under former OC Littrell has had issues in short yardage and in being consistent. Mason Fine has been sacked a ton every season.
Next year Littrell will find out if he and his staff simply were supremely lucky in finding Mason Fine or if they can really pick a QB. Finding a QB is the job, after all. Jason Bean was the number one backup but there are others worth looking at. There is also the transfer market.
Finding an offensive coordinator is the first order of business and that may mean a promotion from within. There are no shortage of offensive gurus to be had in the modern game, but Bodie Reeder was one of those and that did not pan out well.
Defensive coach is the real challenge. Littrell is the offensive guy, and hiring a man he respects to run the defense is the obvious move. Reffett and Mike Ekeler were hired to co-run the defense before Ekeler left, disliking the arrangement apparently. To be honest, the scheme is not the issue. The recruiting is. Specifically, the defensive coordinator needs to find guys to play defensive line and get pressure. The best defenses in this league — UAB, WKU, Tech, USM, even Rice — have some talent along the line that can make things easier on the rest of the defense.
As it is, there is a lot of young talent along the defensive depth chart for the new person to work with. All this staff change comes just a year after NT already changed out their OC, RB, WR, LB, coaches. So much change and a new QB does not portend good things in Denton.
Seth Littrell will get a chance to really earn his paycheck.