There were at least two very significant changes that occurred in the offseason when Tennessee transformed from a College Football Playoff contender to hoping for an invite from the Gator Bowl. One, quarterback Joe Milton III, has been hashed ad nauseam. The other is a bit more forgotten, and could be incredibly troublesome if it turns out he was the motor that moved the Vols offense last season.
While the Tennessee fan base has been focused on the Vols posting a disappointing 7-4 season, an old pal is doing almost as well in a much more difficult situation. Remember former Tennessee offensive coordinator Alex Golesh? Now the head coach at South Florida, Golesh’s offense continues to roll along.
The Bulls are 5-6 under Golesh this season after finishing 1-11 overall and 0-8 in the American Athletic Conference in 2022. This year, South Florida is 4-4 in the AAC. In fact, Golesh has more conference wins (4) as former Bull coach Jeff Scott (4) had overall wins in three season before Golesh arrived. Why the turnaround? Golesh’s offense took the Bulls from embarrassing too impressive.
Though not elite in his first season, Golesh’s offense compares quite favorably to his AAC counterparts. The Bulls are sixth in total offense, fourth in rushing offense and six in passing offense in the AAC. That’s not a bad first step for Golesh or the Bulls. It makes one wonder if there are bigger issues at foot than just Tennessee’s sub-standard quarterback play, if the Vols lost more than just great quarterback Hendon Hooker and receiver Jalin Hyatt from last year’s team. What if Golesh was the one making the Vols go in 2022?
While we all should still believe that Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel is the mastermind behind the run of offensive success during his tenure, what if it was Golesh? Would Heupel consider an outside influence to take another look at his offense? That seems doubtful.
Quarterback is the most important position in sports and that’s very likely why the Vols stumbled to four losses this season. Joe Milton just never found his way to any sort of consistency. However, if Golesh’s absence is part of the problem, then bigger issues could be afoot than who’s taking snaps. Calling plays and designing plays are much more important.