clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Georgia Tech Football: Buster Faulkner is Reportedly Tech’s New Offensive Coordinator

Faulkner joins the Yellow Jackets from the other school down 316.

Syndication: Hattiesburg Cam Bonelli, Hattiesburg American via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Well, Brent Key has found his new offensive coordinator, and it is Buster Faulkner, who most recently served as an offensive quality control assistant for UGA. He has also had several stops as an offensive coordinator. FootballScoop reported the news first, with Radi Nabulsi confirming the news, reporting that Rivals’ Kelly Quinlan has been talking about this the last couple days.

The AJC’s Ken Sugiura also confirmed the report.

Coaching History

  • 2005: Valdosta State (student assistant)
  • 2006: Georgia (graduate assistant)
  • 2007: Valdosta State (quarterbacks coach)
  • 2008: Valdosta State (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach)
  • 2009: Central Arkansas (quarterbacks coach)
  • 2010: Murray State (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach)
  • 2011: Middle Tennessee State (quarterbacks coach, promoted to offensive coordinator mid-season)
  • 2012-2015: Middle Tennessee State (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach)
  • 2016-2018: Arkansas State (offensive coordinator/tight ends coach)
  • 2019: Southern Miss (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach)
  • 2020-2022: Georgia (offensive quality control assistant, working primarily with quarterbacks)

As I dive into Faulkner’s history, I want to specifically narrow that focus on his time as an offensive coordinator, so I’ll be looking at his time at MTSU, Arkansas State, and Southern Miss. I’ll then also briefly look at his current stint at UGA.

Middle Tennessee State University

I can’t seem to find any news talking about how it happened, but with seven games left in his first season at MTSU, Faulkner took over playcalling duties and never relinquished them until he left for Arkansas State. Looking at the stats, that season is a bit of a wash, as the offensive actually got worse over the course of the season, gaining less yards, scoring less points, and turning the ball over more often on average. But, I think that season serves as a good baseline to look at how he progressed MTSU’s offense. (Note: Because Game On Paper only has team data back to 2014, I’ll be relying on old-school stats here).

MTSU Stats Under Buster Faulkner

Season Completion Percentage Pass Yards Pass TDs INT Pass Success Rate EPA/Pass Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush TDs Rush Success Rate EPA/Rush 3rd Down Conversions Red Zone Success (TDs & FGs)
Season Completion Percentage Pass Yards Pass TDs INT Pass Success Rate EPA/Pass Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush TDs Rush Success Rate EPA/Rush 3rd Down Conversions Red Zone Success (TDs & FGs)
2011 (baseline; Faulkner takes over mid-season) 58.74% 3052 21 15 N/A N/A 429 1761 14 N/A N/A 39.59% 67.50%
2012 63.08% 2593 16 8 N/A N/A 468 2120 19 N/A N/A 42.86% 82.22%
2013 59.06% 2707 17 15 N/A N/A 526 2591 25 N/A N/A 46.35% 77.36%
2014 65.31% 2610 17 14 42.26% -0.04 530 2566 31 44.40% 0.05 44.38% 82.98%
2015 66.67% 4052 31 10 43.88% 0.14 503 2205 23 42.03% -0.11 42.13% 83.64%
Stats courtesy of &

This was an interesting set of stats to go through quite honestly. As you can see, MTSU saw immediate improvement in the real Year 1 under Faulkner as the OC. That also reflected in the win column. MTSU won 8 games in 2012. Looking at the first several seasons, it looks like Faulkner runs a very run-heavy offense. That is, until 2015 when Brent Stockstill had a breakout season and passed for 4,000 yards.

Something that is a little concerning to me is the erratic shift from 2014 to 2015. In 2014, Faulkner’s offense gained -0.04 EPA/pass and 0.05 EPA/rush. In 2015, those numbers swung to 0.14 EPA/pass and -0.11 EPA/rush. That is almost a 0.2 swing both ways, which is incredibly significant.

In addition to Stockstill’s breakout season, the Blue Raiders also lost Reggie Whatley, who was the team’s leading rusher. They did return Jordan Parker, though. Parker led the team in rushing in 2012 and 2013. Interestingly, Faulkner’s offenses always used a running back by committee approach, which we’ve grown a bit accustomed to here at Georgia Tech.

One last thing I want to mention here is that Faulkner did a lot to stabilize and maintain MTSU’s 3rd down and red zone success rates. I would imagine the heavy emphasis on the running game contributed to that quite a bit.

(Ed. Note: Okay, one last thing that I just realized. Georgia Tech’s new OL coach Geep Wade was at MTSU under Faulkner, so there should be some familiarity there.)

Arkansas State University

After Stockstill’s breakout season, Faulkner’s name was put in the spotlight, and he was able to capitalize by accepting a job at Arkansas State under Blake Anderson. As we dive into the stats here, I will use the 2014 and 2015 season averages as a baseline to see how Faulker was able to progress the offense in his time at Arkansas State. Unfortunately, Arkansas State’s website doesn’t have stats prior to 2019 readily available, so I am using Sports Reference, which does not include 3rd Down or Red Zone success, so those will not be included here.

ASU Stats Under Buster Faulkner

Season Completion Percentage Pass Yards Pass TDs INT Pass Success Rate EPA/Pass Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush TDs Rush Success Rate EPA/Rush
Season Completion Percentage Pass Yards Pass TDs INT Pass Success Rate EPA/Pass Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush TDs Rush Success Rate EPA/Rush
2014 & 2015 (baseline average, pre-Faulkner) 59.56% 3037 24 11 42.46% 0.02 579.5 2960 35 42.48% 0.01
2016 57.61% 3148 21 9 37.53% 0.00 515 1802 19 35.25% -0.17
2017 62.04% 4106 38 17 46.34% 0.06 456 1909 17 41.82% -0.04
2018 64.61% 3675 28 10 N/A N/A 505 2430 18 N/A N/A
There is some kind of error on the 2018 team page for Arkansas State. Once it has been fixed, I’ll come back and update this table. Stats courtesy of and

This is probably about as general as you can expect for a new offensive coordinator. The offense is average, though not spectacular, so a team brings in a new offensive coordinator. Year 1 is rough as the new coordinator works to implement their system, but by Year 2, you notice some significant improvements, and in Year 3, you balance out to the mean. That’s exactly what happens here.

Everything I have seen to this point tells me that Faulkner strives to have a balanced offense. In Year 3 at ASU, he was able to balance out his offense significantly, while keeping his passing game efficient and threatening.

One thing that does concern me about his offenses at Arkansas State is their propensity for interceptions when the team passes more. In 2017, ASU quarterbacks threw 17 interceptions. That’s more than one per game. Looking at the game-by-game data, that number is hampered by performances in three games, where ASU quarterbacks threw three or more interceptions.

University of Southern Mississippi

In what seems to be a lateral move, Faulkner left for Southern Miss in 2019. Faulkner’s hire came after Southern Miss controversially interviewed Art Briles for the job. Following the backlash, Southern Miss quickly removed Briles’ name from consideration and hired Faulkner. It seems like Faulkner received a slight pay bump, but I still think that is a weird move.

Looking at the stats, it will be difficult to glean much because Faulkner was only in Hattiesburg for one season. That said, I’ll still take a look to see what there is to see. Southern Miss’s website doesn’t have stats prior to 2018 readily available, so once again, I’ll be using Sports Reference.

Southern Miss Stats Under Buster Faulkner

Season Completion Percentage Pass Yards Pass TDs INT Pass Success Rate EPA/Pass Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush TDs Rush Success Rate EPA/Rush
Season Completion Percentage Pass Yards Pass TDs INT Pass Success Rate EPA/Pass Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush TDs Rush Success Rate EPA/Rush
2017 & 2018 (baseline average, pre-Faulkner) 62.27% 2963 21.5 10 38.90% -0.03 437.5 1849.5 15 40.26% -0.08
2019 66.44% 3764 20 17 42.52% 0.04 428 1539 17 31.22% -0.14
Stats Courtesy of and

I hesitate to make any drastic judgements on Faulkner from such little data, but this does seem to match up well with his previous stops. Year 1 is almost never terrific, as you can see with an already bad running game getting significantly worse in success rate and EPA. He did benefit from having a quarterback with experience return in 2019, but with one year of data, it’s hard to say how much of an influence Faulkner had there.

University of Georgia

I did want to include a section here on his time at UGA, mostly because Heisman finalist (still feels weird to say that) Stetson Bennett recently spoke on Faulkner’s importance in his own development.

Speaking specifically about the growth that he’s made as a quarterback during the large amount of time he’s spent doing drills run by Faulkner, mechanics was the one thing that stood out the most.

“I think my mechanics have gotten shored up. Sometimes they’re off still, but I think I know how to get them back to being right quicker whereas maybe a little bit last year it was more so ‘I’m throwing pretty good today, I don’t know why, but it’s coming out pretty nice.’ Now I know why that is and how to get back if I do now,” Bennett said. “I can’t think too much about it or I really screw myself up. One of those happy mediums. And then just thinking about the game, understanding the game, what are we actually trying to accomplish here? That was in the summer just breaking it down. What is the game of football? 11-on-11 with these kind of rules. It’s 100 yards by 53 and a quarter or whatever, the hashes are here. Man, zone, first down. Just boil it down so I can understand what we’re trying to accomplish each play better so I think I’ve got that.”

Seeing that he left an OC job to take a pay cut at UGA is certainly a bit of a head-scratcher, but it seems to have payed off for Faulkner in the long haul now that he’s an offensive coordinator at a P5 school.

For the data here, I’ll only be looking at quarterback data.

UGA Quarterbacks Under Buster Faulkner

Season Player Completion Percentage Pass Yards Pass TDs INT Pass Success Rate Yards/dropback EPA/dropback
Season Player Completion Percentage Pass Yards Pass TDs INT Pass Success Rate Yards/dropback EPA/dropback
2018 Jake Fromm 67.66% 2416 29 6 55% 7.33 0.36
2019 Jake Fromm 61.42% 2844 24 4 44% 6.94 0.10
2020 Stetson Bennett 55.48% 1155 8 6 39% 6.94 -0.01
2020 JT Daniels 68.07% 1231 10 1 43% 8.99 0.25
2021 Stetson Bennett 64.46% 2742 29 7 50% 8.76 0.27
2021 JT Daniels 72.63% 1430 16 6 49% 7.22 0.20
2022 Stetson Bennett 68.10% 3303 20 6 55% 8.08 0.32
Stats Courtesy of

Despite Bennett not being “the guy” until really this year, he still showed significant improvement in each season. This is coming from a walk-on who transferred away before transferring back and (eventually) beating out JT Daniels, a former 5-star recruit.

Now I understand UGA has one of the best offensive lines in the country, and it shouldn’t be difficult for quarterbacks to look good behind their offensive line. But I think it is significant that Bennett developed under Faulkner’s tutelage to the point that he surpassed JT Daniels. Daniels may have completed passes at a higher clip, but they were shorter passes. Bennett took more chances, and it paid off for him in the long haul.


Personally, I am pretty torn on this hire. Speaking solely on his work as an offensive coordinator, I don’t love it. He had some good success at MTSU, but I am concerned about his tenure at Arkansas State. I don’t believe he dramatically improved them while he was there. And then from there, he could only secure a lateral move to another OC job before taking a gamble at a P5 off-field role after just one season.

Similar to the Geep Wade hire, I’m also concerned that Key seemingly has money to work with, more money than any coach in Georgia Tech history, and he is still not making bigger name hires. There was a coach with significant experience as a Power 5 offensive coordinator in the ACC, and by all reports, I don’t see where any contact was even made. I believe that the best thing a first-year head coach can do is surround himself with experienced coaches, and Key has yet to do that.

I don’t want to completely tear down this hire, because I don’t think it’s the worst hire in the world. I believe Faulkner was instrumental in the development of Stetson Bennett at UGA. I am also a firm believe that Kirby Smart is one of the best in the country at identifying coaching talent. To be a team as successful as Georgia, you need more than just great recruiting. You need coaches who can develop that talent, and I believe UGA is one of the best at doing just that. Look at how many player they put into the NFL ever year. It’s not just because they have all the talent in the world. They develop it.

Something else that remains to be seen is what this hire means for Chris Weinke, Georgia Tech’s QB coach. Although Faulkner has coached tight ends in the past, he is a quarterbacks coach by nature, and it seems strange to me to hire a guy known for being a quarterbacks coach to not come coach your quarterbacks.

I don’t really have anything else to say on this hire. I think this has the potential to be a good hire, but it’s not one that inspires immediate confidence in me.

How do you feel about Georgia Tech’s new offensive coordinator?