News broke on Tuesday evening that UCF’s Josh Heupel is a name that’s “emerging” in the Tennessee Vols’ search for a new head coach.
VolQuest’s Austin Price was the first to report that Heupel was becoming a factor in the search.
UCF coach Josh Heupel emerging as top candidate to replace Jeremy Pruitt. ⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️https://t.co/oLSCaKbi7N
— Austin Price (@AustinPriceless) January 27, 2021
Heupel’s name seemingly came out nowhere, but it really shouldn’t be a big surprise. It appears that Tennessee took a few swings at some big names (James Franklin, Matt Campbell, PJ Fleck) and realized that interest in the job isn’t very high.
Recently-hired UT athletic director Danny White hired Heupel at UCF (to replace Scott Frost), which makes him a perfect fallback option for the Vols.
While Heupel doesn’t generate the type of excitement I think the Vols need right now, I do think he has the potential to be a solid hire for Tennessee.
Mainly because he would be able to instantly fix a major problem at UT.
Jeremy Pruitt’s biggest downfall during his time at Tennessee was his inability to develop quarterbacks. Pruitt wasn’t able to do it and neither could the quarterbacks coaches that worked under him — Tyson Helton and Chris Weinke.
Heupel, on the other hand, is a quarterback and offensive guru. He turned Drew Lock into one of the best quarterbacks in the nation at Missouri. And he’s continued to have incredible offensive success at UCF since replacing Scott Frost before the 2018 season.
Josh Heupel’s offenses have ranked 6th, 5th, and 2nd in the country in total offense the last three years at UCF. As OC at Missouri in 2017, they were 14th.
— Brian Rice (@briancrice) January 27, 2021
Dillon Gabriel, a former three-star recruit (No. 758 overall player in 2019 recruiting class), passed for 3,653 yards as a true freshman at UCF in 2019. In 2020, Gabriel passed for 3,570 yards in just 10 games.
Tennessee hasn’t seen that kind of quarterback development since Lane Kiffin was patrolling the sidelines in Knoxville in 2009 (and speaking of Lane Kiffin, Heupel was 2-0 against his FAU teams).
I don’t know how Heupel would manage being the head coach at Tennessee — it’s certainly a lot different than being the head coach at UCF. But there’s no doubt the Vols’ offense would instantly be better with his arrival on Rocky Top.
Featured image via Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports