Managing editor Nathanael Rutherford also contributed to this article
Earlier this week, Fresno State named Indiana offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer the head football coach of the Bulldogs — meaning that DeBoer will have more than just Indiana’s offense on his plate when the Hoosiers play the Vols in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2.
DeBoer served as former Fresno State head coach Jeff Tedford’s offensive coordinator in 2017-18. With DeBoer as the OC, the Bulldogs went 22-6 in his two seasons.
According to a press release from Fresno State, DeBoer’s offense in 2018 ranked 26th nationally in scoring offense (34.6) and 29th in passing offense (267.1), and produced five all-conference honorees. The Bulldogs finished eighth nationally in team passing efficiency (156.58), tied for 15th in turnovers lost (14), tied for 19th nationally in red zone offense (89.5 percent) and 25th in third-down conversions (44.6). Up front, the Bulldogs’ offensive line ranked in the top six nationally in fewest sacks and tackles for loss allowed per game in 2018 (6th, 5th).
In 2017, DeBoer helped turn around an offense that went 1-11 in the season before he arrived, to 10-4 in his first season.
Following his stint with the Bulldogs, DeBoer moved on to Bloomington to serve as the Hoosiers offensive coordinator this season. Indiana’s offense led the Hoosiers to an 8-4 season — the third-most wins in school history.
Indiana’s offense this season was one of the best passing offenses in the Big Ten, and the Hoosiers’ offense showed major improvement in almost every statistical category from last year to this year. DeBoer helped guide Indiana’s offense to 32.6 points a game, 443.6 yards a game, 6.08 yards per play, and 308.7 passing yards a game. That passing average is the second-best in the Big Ten, and Indiana trailed only Ohio State in the conference in total yards per game. Their 6.08 yards per play rank fourth in the Big Ten.
DeBoer helped veteran quarterback Peyton Ramsey develop into a capable quarterback this season after he took over the starting role after redshirt freshman Michael Penix Jr. suffered a season-ending injury. Ramsey has a career-high in completion percentage (69.2 percent), yards per attempt (8.4) and quarterback rating (152.6) this season.
That loss of Penix as the starting quarterback could’ve set back Indiana’s offense, but instead DeBoer and Ramsey helped push the Hoosiers forward. Indiana has scored 30 or more points in all but three of their games this season.
Vol fans hoping DeBoer moving on to Fresno State would cause a last-minute change to Indiana’s offensive gameplan will be disappointed, however. DeBoer confirmed to Sports Illustrated that he will coach the Hoosiers in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl.
“That’s what we are planning,” DeBoer said by text. “This team, program and season are so special, and I want to do everything I can to finish it off in a great way!”
Though he’ll be coaching Indiana’s offense, DeBoer will still have head coaching duties for Fresno State to take care of. Vol fans will remember that Jeremy Pruitt did the same thing back in December of 2017 when he was hired as UT’s head coach. Pruitt stayed on Nick Saban’s Alabama staff as their defensive coordinator through the playoffs.
Tennessee and Indiana kick-off at 7:00 PM Eastern on January 2nd.