Coach’s Comments: Evaluating P.J. Fleck versus Willie Taggart

Coach Morris Coach's Opinion

Charles Fischer asked me to share my thoughts about what to expect from teams coached by P.J. Fleck and Willie Taggart. While obviously what follows is almost pure speculation, there “could” be some interesting differences.

Willie Taggart already has in place at South Florida what I would consider an “All-Star” offensive staff.  Their resumes are far too lengthy for me to go into, but I responded with an appreciative “wow” to each one.

Taggart diligently selected this staff for the beginning of 2015 and he added a highly rated QB coach in 2016.  These guys literally built their infamous “Gulf Coast” offense from the ground up in 2015. Prior to that Willie Taggart had been a Jim Harbaugh Power-I formation guy. (FishDuck note: this is quite an impressive transformation and immediate response to a team weakness)

Willie Taggart

From USF Athletics

Willie Taggart

While the Bulls had a run game coordinator and a pass game coordinator, and an associate head coach who was formerly a pass game coordinator for Taggart, Willie still called the plays on game day.

Fleck’s Western Michigan assistant coaches don’t have nearly the quality of background with his staff that Taggart has with USF.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I’d be very surprised if Taggart didn’t bring his entire offensive staff with him to Oregon.

I’d be equally surprised if Fleck brought ANY of his offensive staff from WMU.  This could provide an opportunity for Fleck to keep some, or all, of the Oregon offensive staff, and/or hire new outstanding offensive assistants with west coast ties. (FishDuck note: Please-keep-SteveGreatwood!)

The big coaching difference between Taggart and Fleck is that Taggart is a very hands-on, Xs and Os offensive coach – ala Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich. Fleck is more of a CEO, in charge of motivation and discipline – like Mike Bellotti.

What about their actual offenses?  There’s a huge difference between the number of carries and running successes for their two quarterbacks. But if South Florida QB Quinton Flowers played for Western Michigan and Zach Terrell of WMU played for USF, I’m sure those numbers would change accordingly. Certainly neither coach is stupid, and both would adapt to the talent on hand.

How would these coaches do defensively at Oregon?  Both would need outside help…

P. J. Fleck

From WMU Athletics Video

P. J. Fleck

Taggart’s 2015 defensive coordinator, Tom Allen, went to be the DC at Indiana in 2016, where he significantly up-graded the Hoosier defense.  Mississippi was trying to hire him away from Indiana, but last week Allen was hired to move from DC to the head coaching position at Indiana.

I don’t get enthusiastic vibes about USF’s current Defensive Coordinator.

Fleck’s defensive staff seems to be similar to his offensive guys:  good enough for WMU but not for the Pac-12.  The dream hire of Fleck would be Greg Schiano, of Ohio State, as his DC, but I just can’t see that happening

So, as I see it, both coaches would bring outstanding leadership to the Oregon football program, direct wonderful offenses, but would need to hire a lot of help on defense.  Whoever is hired as the new defensive coordinator (and assistants) will determine how successful the new coach and the Oregon program is for at least a couple of years to come.

May the best man win.

Retired Coach Mike Morris  (Grizzled Ol’ Coach)
Pleasant Hill, Oregon

Top Photo from Video

Disclaimer: Readers: Every writer on is allowed to express their opinion in their articles. However, articles do not represent the views of the other writers, editors, coaching consultants, management, or the principals of    Charles Fischer

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