According to a report from Football Scoop, NC State offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz is a candidate to replace Tyson Helton as the Tennessee Vols’ play caller.

This is the first time I’ve heard Drinkwitz’s name attached to the Vols’ offensive coordinator opening.

So who is he?

Well, Drinkwitz coached under Gus Malzahn at Arkansas State (and also at Auburn, when Malzahn was the Tigers’ offensive coordinator). He was also the offensive coordinator at Boise State in 2015 when the Broncos were No. 15 in the nation in total offense.

Since 2016, Drinkwitz has been the offensive coordinator at NC State (he replaced Matt Canada).

The Wolfpack have averaged over 30 a points a game during the last two seasons with Drinkwitz calling the offensive players.

According to NC State head coach Dave Doeren, Drinkwitz is an expert at attacking defenses. Drinkwitz tries to determine how a defense will play a team and then exploit their game plan.

From the News & Observer:

“He’s got plays off of plays,” Doeren said. “He knows what he’s looking for within the play call for the next call. Instead of just calling a play, I think he’s looking at how you’re defending it and knows how to adjust quickly.

“That’s one thing I really like. If we’re going to be in a formation, we’re going to have four or five things that’s going to come out of it based on how they defend it as opposed to ‘Hey, they did a good job, it didn’t work.’ At least he has the answers I like, where you can have a play to take advantage of how they’re playing it.”

When you think about Boise State, you probably think spread offense. But that’s a term that gets thrown around a bit too much. The best college offenses are multiple and that’s what Drinkwitz tries to do.

When Drinkwitz was hired at NC State, he described his offense as starting “with a physical downhill run game”.

From Technician Online:

“You have to establish the run,” Drinkwitz said.  “You have to establish the line of scrimmage. In order to do that, once you establish the run, you force the defense to come tighter to you and it allows you to make vertical throws.”

That’s essentially what Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt wants his team’s offensive philosophy to be.

By the way, NC State placed five players on this year’s All-ACC first team offense, including at quarterback and two wide receiver positions.

Something in common with a former Vols offensive coordinator

Drinkwitz is unique in the fact that he never played college football. He was an all-state linebacker in high school, but he was unable to walk on to the football team at Arkansas Tech due to an injured shoulder.

Former Vols offensive coordinator Dave Cutcliffe didn’t play college football either, so that isn’t necessarily a strike against Drinkwitz.


I think Drinkwitz would be a solid hire by the Vols. He runs an offense that works and he has extensive play calling experience. He also has a good record of quarterback development (Ryan Finley has thrived under him at NC State).

Tennessee can do a lot worse than Drinkwitz. They’ve done much worse before. He won’t generate as many headlines as a name like Hugh Freeze, but I think he’d be successful at UT.

Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

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