Mississippi State Football – Year in Review: Offensive Assistant Coaches

December 4, 2011

News, Sports

Year In Review: Offensive Assistant Coaches


Initial Outlook: The Mississippi State fan base is panicking over the possibility of Dan Mullen bolting for Penn State. It is a scary proposition, but he is still the Mississippi State head coach for the time being. Mullen, like most head coaches this team of year, is focused on recruiting, evaluating talent, and evaluating his coaching staff. I decided to look at the assistant coaching staff, and determine their overall value to the team. I chose to evaluate the offensive assistant coaches first with the defensive staff assessments to come next.


The Offensive Staff


Les Koenning: Quarterbacks Coach / Offensive Coordinator

Les Koenning

Les Koenning

2011 Assessments: The 2011 year was Koenning’s worst season as a Mississippi State coach. His main duties are to call the plays, and he was horrible in that department. I would like to be nicer, but I’m calling a spade a spade. The play calling became stale and predictable; Mullen had to eventually take over a majority of the duties.


3-Year Assessments: Koenning had a poor 2011, but he has been a valuable member of the coaching staff. He has done a solid job of developing the quarterbacks — especially Chris Relf. I do feel that he could have done better overall in the fine-tuning of Relf’s footwork in the pocket, and Russell’s throwing mechanics outside of the pocket. His biggest value to Mullen is in the role of recruiter. He has brought in some key talent, like Vick Ballard, Chris Hughes, and Blaine Clausell. He has been an average coordinator though, and he doesn’t seem to have the ability to tailor the offense toward the talent. If Mullen does retain Koenning, then he will need to be stripped of any play calling duties.


Overall Grade: C+


Greg Knox: Running Backs Coach

Greg Knox

Greg Knox

2011 Assessment: It’s hard to judge a running back coach off of one season, but I don’t believe he had a good one. He didn’t perform horribly, but the running backs struggled with blitz pick-up in 2011, and I feel that falls on coaching. I’m also looking at the fact that none of the true freshmen were ready to contribute at any point.


3-Year Assessment: Knox’s biggest value to Mullen is his ability to recruit. He has brought in five guys this year alone. The three Louisiana players: Quadry Antoine, Ryan Brown, and Torrey Bell, all have had a chance to be big time contributors. He has done a poor job of developing talent, as the only running back that has not redshirted was Vick Ballard. The player I point to as the example is Montrell Conner. Conner had a lot of talent, but flat-out didn’t develop over his first year. Knox takes the blame for that in my opinion. He may be one of the coaches Mullen needs to consider replacing, as MSU will have a young running back group in 2012. The players may need a coach that can get them ready to contribute early.


Overall Grade: C


Angelo Mirando: Wide Receivers Coach

Angelo Mirando

Angelo Mirando

2011 Assessment: Mirando took a lot of heat in 2011 as he took the blame for the underperforming receiving core. I do feel he dropped the ball a little as his rotation system was not very good. I do not feel that created a culture of competition, and that’s why the players did not step their game up. He is in his first year though, and he will get better. He comes across as a very intelligent coach that is a star in the making. He is already on the tips of a lot of recruits’ tongue when they are being interviewed. Mullen would be best served to keep him around.


Overall Grade: Incomplete


Scott Sallach: Tight Ends Coach

Scott Sallach

Scott Sallach


2011 Assessment: I think Sallach had a stellar 2011 season. Marcus Green didn’t play up to his potential, but I feel that may have been more injury-related. I look at how Malcolm Johnson performed in his first year at Tight End. He already looks like a future star. I thought the tight end blocking also improved toward the end of the year.


3-Year Assessment: Sallach doesn’t seem to have expansive duties as the Tight Ends coach, but he has done a good job with the group. The tight ends as a whole have always been a huge asset to the offense. Green not being healthy has hurt the position’s development, but the other players have always performed up to their potential. I think his best job was with Brandon Hill. I didn’t think Hill could become a tight end, but he looks like he has a bright future. Sallach does a good job of developing talent, but I don’t know what he adds as a recruiter. He is not one of the guys that is normally mentioned by recruits. Sallach should definitely be kept around though, with expanded duties.


Overall Grade: B-


John Hevesy: Offensive Line Coach / Running Game Coordinator


John Hevesy

John Hevesy

2011 Assessment: I thought Hevesy had an above-average year as the Offensive Line coach. The two things he dropped the ball on were playing Dillon Day at Center instead of Guard, and his reluctance to start Clausell over Carmon. Carmon worked hard, but the team might have been better off if Hevesy had put his all his eggs in Clausell. The offensive line also should have been more prepared for Tobias Smith’s injury, considering he has been injury-prone his whole Bulldog career.


3-Year Assessment: Hevesy has possibly been the best assistant coach on the entire coaching staff. He has been a marvelous recruiter and evaluator of talent. He does a terrific job of developing talent, getting Dillon Day, Blaine Clausell, and James Carmon ready to contribute early. The fact that he was able to make Carmon viable shows his ability to develop talent. He does deserve criticism for not bringing in at least one Junior College offensive tackle as a stopgap. I think the offensive line suffered, because they were over-compensating for Carmon’s poor play. Hevesy is, all things considered, a major asset to Mullen. There is a reason people say it’s Mullen, Balis, and then Hevesy as the pecking order on the staff. I just included him in this evaluation for argument’s sake, but Mullen would be a fool to let Hevesy go.


Overall Grade: A-


Final Outlook: The offensive coaching staff has been together basically untouched for Mullen’s entire tenure. Miranda is in his first year, but he was a graduate assistant before he became the receiver coach. They have been good recruiters as a whole and solid developers of talent. The downside is that they may have all dropped the ball from a game-plan standpoint. Koenning has called the plays, but the whole staff trades ideas to develop the game plan. There is a good case to keep the staff together, but Mullen may need to shake things up; if not for anything else, just to inject some life into the offense.




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2 Comments on “Mississippi State Football – Year in Review: Offensive Assistant Coaches”

  1. Jim Says:

    Not sure about Greg Knox, especially your example of Montrell Conner. Conner looked fantastic in the spring game; then he transferred.


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