Chris Weinke is not a new name to the Flats. Hired in 2022 by Geoff Collins, Coach Weinke is now in his second year with the team as QB coach and his first year as Co-OC alongside Coach Buster Faulkner.
Last season was an anomaly, to say the least. The turbulence surrounding Geoff Collins's dismissal and the carousel of quarterbacks that followed made it tough to create a solid reputation for Weinke’s coaching abilities.
I did not see much development of Jeff Sims under Coach Weinke, but Sims seemed to already have one foot out the door on his way to Nebraska. Zach Pyron’s performance last season as a true freshman was brief but impressive. In the three games Pryon was able to play in last year, he showed some real strength as a leader and real talent as a quarterback, particularly during the Virginia Tech game. Pyron sealed the win over the Hokies with his 9-yard touchdown run and provided fans with my favorite piece of media from last season.
I think the ability to make good leaders out of 18-year-old boys is a true test of a college QB coach’s skill. From what I briefly saw in Pyron last year, I have a great deal of trust in Coach Weinke’s ability to do just that.
The introduction of former Aggie, Haynes King, to the QB room, adds some SEC experience that will prove useful this season. King’s time at Texas A&M was nothing short of a disappointment as he quickly lost the starting position and never seemed to click with the team.
Weinke and King crossed paths during Weinke’s time at Tennessee where he recruited King. Judging Weinke’s development of QB Jarrett Guarantano while at Tennessee, Weinke could be just what the doctor ordered for Haynes King. In Weinke’s first year working with the QB, Guarantano led the SEC in yards per completion at 14.2 and passed for 2,158 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2019. Guarantano joined the Volunteers with a similar pedigree as King, (four-star rating as a prospect, three-star as a transfer); both were scouted as dual-threat quarterbacks with lots of athleticism and even more potential. His development of Guarantano proves that Weinke is very capable of creating stability and consistency in a locker room that has recently seen anything but that.
The spring game boasted good stats for all three non-freshman QBs. Pyron, King, and Zach Gibson threw for a combined 34-for-55 with no interceptions, averaging 18 yards per completion. On paper, those numbers look good, but success in the spring game isn’t exactly something to hang your hat on. The real test of Weinke’s developmental abilities will roll around in September when his QB (whoever it might be) faces off in ACC play.
Weinke has a lot to prove this year. It will be exciting to see how the battle for QB1 plays out this fall and if Coach Weinke’s experience and leadership rub off on those playing for him.