Searching for a Wide Receiver Coach (and Offensive Coordinator-in-Waiting)

Oregon vs Washington

First, the news that everyone already seems to know: Matt Lubick will be the next Oregon offensive coordinator. He wants the opportunity and, as Mark Helfrich well knows, he definitely deserves it.

Matt’s first game might be very interesting. The Ducks offensive play caller must match wits with arguably the best defensive coordinator in college football — Gary Patterson of TCU. I say “might” because Helfrich might call the plays in the Alamo Bowl to take the pressure off Lubick, although I very much doubt that will happen. Both the lack of confidence in Lubick and the actual play-calling would be very awkward for Helfrich. “F*** ’em, Matt. It’s your offense now!”

Lubick's skills as OC will be tested against TCU in the Alamo Bowl

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Lubick’s skills as OC will be tested against TCU in the Alamo Bowl.

Now, for something that many folks don’t seem to understand: Lubick HAS to be the Ducks’ QB coach in order to be the OC. Logistically, an OC can’t be the WR coach; he needs to continually work with the QBs.

A WR coach has a limited view of the offense. Just as Frost had to change jobs, so will Lubick. For the same reason, a defensive coordinator can’t be the DB coach. Can Lubick effectively coach QBs? A great football coach can do an outstanding job coaching any position.

So the Ducks are looking for a replacement for Lubick, not Frost. But Helfrich also needs to find a WR coach who’s capable of being the next OC when Lubick leaves for a head coaching job.

Is that really necessary? Yeah, it’s pretty much a no-brainer. When Lubick signed on, I recognized he’d be the next OC when Frost left. Doing it that way sure makes for a far better transition than bringing in a new OC who has no knowledge of the personnel and how things are done.

So who does Oregon hire? That’s the big problem: There are many very knowledgeable offensive coaches out there but they’re almost all OC-QB coaches already. Most of them don’t want to give up their powerful and creative position to be a WR coach at Oregon. Frost and Lubick were unique in that they weren’t already OCs when Oregon found them.

The next WR coach at Oregon has a talented group to work with.

Kevin Cline

The next WR coach at Oregon has a talented group to work with.

So Oregon probably needs an outstanding WR coach capable of being an OC-QB coach in the future. There is one potential candidate for this job who is extremely well-qualified. He knows everything about the Oregon WR techniques thoroughly — what and how they’re meant to do the things they do. He also knows the personalities and abilities of all the WRs well. And those WRs greatly respect and like him.

AND besides being extremely well-qualified to coach Oregon’s WRs, this guy knows enough about the QB position in Oregon’s offense to effectively coach it right away. He’d provide a great transition when Lubick leaves.

This coaching candidate is also very charismatic and likable, and would be an outstanding recruiter and mentor to the players. AND he’s already on Oregon’s staff.

Aw, you guessed it already. Yeah, Nate Costa seems to have everything the Ducks need for the new WR coach.

Nate Costa could see a step up in his duties in 2016.

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Nate Costa could see a step up in his duties in 2016.

So, what’s the problem?

Helfrich would have to have against-the-grain courage to hire Costa because of Costa’s lack of experience. Nate’s still just a GA [graduate assistant]. He’s never coached at any other school, at any level. Many would say Costa’s not qualified. He hasn’t paid his dues.

Some would advocate for a new coach, to bring in new perceptions and ways of doing things — fresh eyes and ideas. But Helfrich very often praises the courage and non-traditional ways of the Oregon program.

I have no specific knowledge of what other candidates are competing with Nate Costa — or even if Helfrich considers Costa a viable candidate because of his inexperience. I’m just like most of you — enthusiastically looking forward to the next outstanding coach to join the University of Oregon Ducks’ football program.

Mike Morris
12-8-15

Top Photo by Craig Strobeck

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Coach Morris

Coach Morris

Coach Mike Morris spent 30 years coaching at seven different high schools throughout Southern California. He coached many players who went on to Pac-12 programs including Oregon, such as Saladin McCullough. He is a writer, Football analyst and a good friend of the Principal of the site.

  • BigBallzChipper

    First of all thanks coach for this articule. I think you have an interesting point. And just like you pointed out the inexperience it the biggest hurdle to overcome. Either way I’m hoping we get a good one.

  • Dan

    Oregon was able to successfully find a capable, proven wide receivers coach in Lubick. Why couldn’t we do the same now?

    Perhaps Helfrich will consider Tim Cramsey, the former OC from Montana State, who played QB while Chip Kelly was coaching at New Hampshire. As an added bonus, he could bring his QB with him to Oregon.

    Let Nate Costa “earn his stripes” with Frost at UCF.

  • UOdgs

    Coach, I’m just curious what your opinion is regarding former Duck Justin Wilcox’s talent as a DC? To your knowledge, has he ever been considered for a coaching position on Oregon’s staff? If I remember correctly, he’s risen through the ranks fairly quickly and has been quite successful along the way. Are there similarities between the transition from LB coach to DC and WR coach to OC?

    Thanks for your input regarding Ducks football, it’s been enjoyable reading your perspective.

  • MAITAIDUCK

    I agree with Costa because he played in the system as our QB. He is also very intelligent and could Coach the receivers. If Oregon wants to continue with the keep it in House then they need to start getting some of these young guy’s ready. Coach’s like Greatwood, Our RB’s Coach and a few others are getting up their in age. I just hope they get the DC as in the right one soon.