Broyles Award likely candidates: Week 12

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Tuesday November 15, 2016


At the end of this month, nominees for the Broyles Award will be announced. The award goes to the nation's top assistant coach, and a number of coaches are worthy of the honor this season.

Lincoln Riley won the award last season as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator. Since the award’s inception in 1996, more than 20 percent of finalists have become head coaches, including six of the past eight winners (Kirby Smart, Kevin Wilson, Gus Malzahn, Bob Diaco, Pat Narduzzi and Tom Herman).

Through 11 weeks, here are CoachingSearch’s top candidates, in alphabetical order. (Note: Schools can only nominate one coach, but for the purposes of this, we’ve included multiple)

Dave Aranda — LSU defensive coordinator

Aranda’s defense is No. 6 in scoring D (13.9 ppg) and has yet to allow more than 21 points in a game. They lead the nation in red zone defense, with opponents scoring touchdowns in just 26.9 percent of RZ trips. Last week, the LSU defense held Arkansas to 3.4 yards per rush and forced three turnovers in a 38-10 win in Fayetteville.

John Baxter — USC special teams coordinator / tight ends coach

Baxter has taken USC’s special teams efficiency from No. 74 last year to No. 8 this season in his first year back, per FootballOutsiders. The Trojans have held some of the nation’s top punt returners to nothing: Alabama’s Calvin Ridley (4 yards on 2 returns), Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey (0 returns on 5 punts) and Washington’s Dante Pettis (0 yards on 4 punts).  For the Trojans, Adoree Jackson is averaging 29.0 yards on kick returns, with 1 TD, and 14.6 yards on punt returns, with another TD. Jackson is top 10 nationally in both stats. USC also blocked a 38-yard field goal in last week’s win at Washington.

Don Brown — Michigan defensive coordinator

Brown brought an aggressive approach to a talented group, and his defense leads the nation in several stats, including scoring D (11 ppg) and 3rd downs (19.7 percent). The Wolverines have shut out opponents in the first half of six of 10 games this season. Despite the 14-13 loss at Iowa last week, Michigan held the Hawkeyes to 4-for-16 on 3rd down and only allowed 66 passing yards in the game. 

Matt Canada — Pitt offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach

A new addition to this list, Canada’s offense went into Death Valley, scored 43 points and ran for 4.7 yards per carry in the last-second win against Clemson and their top-10 scoring D. The Panthers had touchdown scoring drives of 75, 75, 65, 86, 75, and 30 yards. All four trips into the red zone resulted in touchdowns and the Panthers are No. 2 nationally (79 percent) in red zone touchdown percentage. Canada’s offense set a school record with 7 straight games scoring at least 36 points earlier this year.

Kirk Ciarrocca — Western Michigan offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach

The Broncos were off last weekend, but now have College Gameday coming this Saturday. Ciarrocca’s offense is scoring more than 44 points per game, No. 7 in the country. Senior QB Zach Terrell is completing more than 70 percent of his passes and is in the top five nationally in completion percentage and QB rating. The Broncos have scored at least 34 points in nine straight games.

Ivin Jasper — Navy offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach

Navy lost Keenan Reynolds from last year’s team and then lost this year’s starting QB in Week 1, but backup Will Worth has the Midshipmen in position to reach the AAC title game right now. In last week's 42-40 win against Tulsa, Worth went 6-for-8 passing for 111 yards and a touchdown and ran for 122 yards and 3 more TDs. Navy went 9-for-14 on 3rd downs on the day. Last week, Navy ran out the final 7:28 of clock against Notre Dame. On Saturday, they ran out the final 5:30.

Lane Kiffin — Alabama offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach

For the third year in a row, Kiffin has taken a first-year starting quarterback and built a powerful offense around its strengths. This year, it’s a true freshman quarterback with running ability in Jalen Hurts. Hurts passed for 347 yards and ran for 100 more in a 51-3 win over Mississippi State on Saturday. The Tide are scoring 32 points per game (when you remove all the non-offensive TDs), and averaging more than 5.8 yards per rush (No. 6).

Jim Leavitt — Colorado defensive coordinator / linebackers coach

The Colorado defense is No. 9 in scoring (17.9 ppg), all the way up from No. 70 a year ago, and allowing 10 fewer points per game. The Buffs have allowed fewer than 17 points in six of 10 games this season, and as a result, CU is leading the Pac-12 South. Colorado beat Arizona 49-24 on Saturday, though 14 of those Arizona points came in the fourth when the game was out of reach. The Buffs held Arizona to 5-for-15 on 3rd down. 

Greg Schiano — Ohio State defensive coordinator / safeties coach

The Buckeyes haven’t allowed a touchdown this month, after a second straight 62-3 win. OSU held Maryland to 1-for-15 on 3rd down and 1.1 yards per rush. They have 15 interceptions in 10 games, returning six for touchdowns. OSU also leads the nation in red zone defense and is top 20 in rushing defense and 3rd down defense. They’ve allowed 0 touchdowns in five of 10 games this year.

Jonathan Smith — Washington offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach

The Washington offense has jumped 50 spots to No. 5 nationally in scoring (44.8 ppg) compared to a year ago, and sophomore QB Jake Browning is third in the nation in QB rating and has 35 touchdowns against 5 interceptions. Despite the loss to USC, this is one of the most improved units in the nation, and the Huskies still have a shot at the Pac-12 title and the Playoff.

Jeremy Pruitt — Alabama defensive coordinator / inside linebackers coach

Through 10 games, this defense has allowed 13 touchdowns and scored nine of its own, which is a crazy stat. The Tide are No. 2 in scoring D (12.2 points per game) and sacking the opposing quarterback four times per game, leading the country. A week after Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald ran for 182 yards on Texas A&M, Alabama held him to 15 yards on 11 carries, including three sacks. 

Justin Wilcox — Wisconsin defensive coordinator / linebackers coach

In Wilcox’s first year with the group, Wisconsin is No. 3 nationally in scoring D (12.7 points per game), despite losing several of its top defensive players to injury this year. The Badger defense held Michigan to 14 points, Nebraska to 17 points and Ohio State to 23 points in regulation. They also forced four turnovers in a 48-3 win over Illinois on Saturday. The Badgers have an outside shot at the playoff, and it's on the back of this defense.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.