Where does Mark Stoops go next on offense?

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday December 17, 2015

Kentucky offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Shannon Dawson will not return, and Mark Stoops will now look for his third offensive coordinator in as many years. He needs to figure out what he wants from an offense.

The Wildcats scored 24.7 points per game this season, No. 95 nationally, and changed quarterbacks late in the season. That was down from 29.2 points a year ago, but the 5.47 yards per play were slightly up. Third down and red zone touchdown numbers also slightly increased.

Dawson told Fox Sports that he and Stoops were not on the same page philosophically with how they wanted the offense to run.

But when Stoops hired Dawson to replace the departed Neal Brown a year ago, the head coach had talked about the similarity in the Air Raid-background systems. Stoops also said he was essentially handing the keys to Dawson, as Stoops is a defensive coach.

“Sink or swim, here’s the keys. You do it. That’s what it was like when I went to Florida State, and I wanted it that way,” Stoops said last December. “It’s either get it done or get fired. That’s what my situation was.”

Even in late September, Stoops praised Dawson’s management in the face of scoring problems and said he’s been a great fit.

Dawson spent the previous four years at West Virginia, including three as offensive coordinator, though he didn’t call plays. He was the offensive coordinator at Stephen F. Austin and Millsaps from 2006-10.

Stoops knows the pressure is increasing, with facilities and assistant coaching investments not getting the Wildcats over the hump yet. However, the Lexington Herald-Leader noted that Stoops’ buyout if is dismissed after next season is $12 million.

For now, the focus is fixing the Kentucky offense, and it will be interesting to see what kind of style Stoops wants around quarterback Drew Barker.

Kentucky is now one of several schools looking for an offensive coordinator.

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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.