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Georgia Tech Football: Coaching Carousel - Co-OC/TE Buster Faulkner

Could a team come calling for Buster Faulkner this offseason?

NCAA Football: Georgia at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the regular season is over, the coaching carousel has begun! As teams look to improve their coaching staffs, it seems probable that Georgia Tech will see a few changes to its coaching staff before next season. Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at a few of those possibilities and opine about how Georgia Tech should respond if that coach were to find himself at another school next year.

After Brent Key was named the full-time head coach for Georgia Tech last offseason, there was one big question on everyone’s mind. Who would he hire as his offensive coordinator?

We threw out several names ranging from easy Key connections like Chris Weinke and George Godsey to more wildcard options like Seth Littrell and Josh Gattis. Ultimately, Brent Key didn’t really listen to us at all and hired Buster Faulkner, a quality control assistant for UGA at the time.

Looking back, it’s probably a good idea that Key didn’t listen to us as Faulkner ended up being arguably the best addition to the coaching staff. At Georgia Tech, he engineered the greatest offensive turnaround in college football this season. Let’s look at some of those numbers.

Georgia Tech Offense 2022 to 2023

Stat 2022 2023 Difference
Stat 2022 2023 Difference
Total Yards 3912 5149 1237
Points Per Game 17.17 31.17 14.00
Passing Yards 2306 2784 478
Passing TDs 10 26 16
Average per Pass 6.05 7.6 1.55
Rushing Yards 1606 2365 759
Rushing TDs 13 22 9
Average per Rush 3.8 5.4 1.6
Receiving Yards 2306 2784 478
Average per Reception 10.53 12.4 1.87
Turnovers 13 20 7
Sacks Allowed 39 15 -24
3rd Down % 30.56% 43.51% 12.95%

All but one of these changes is good. Unfortunately, Georgia Tech turned the ball over more this year than they did last year. But they improved significantly in every single offensive category. It’s honestly a dang tragedy that he was not a semifinalist for the Broyles Award this season. He inherited an absolute mess on offense and turned it into one of the best in the ACC.

Now that we’re in the offseason, though, I think it’s likely that Faulkner will get some calls. There are some major coaching changes going on, whether it be the turnover at Texas A&M, whatever chaos is going on at Ohio State, or something else.

Faulkner has an impressive resume. Aside from the offensive turnaround this season, he spent the last two seasons as UGA’s quarterback whisperer. Stetson Bennett credits Faulkner with his development.

Faulkner is a great football coach, and I think at some point, a team will come take him away, whether it be as an offensive coordinator at a P5 powerhouse or as a head coach somewhere. He was already tied to the Arkansas OC job and the MTSU HC job, but he either removed himself from consideration or was not a realistic candidate, so I don’t think it happens this year. If it happens this year, my gut says that Texas A&M throws stupid money at him, and Faulkner heads back to the SEC. I don’t know that he takes the money at A&M, though I wouldn’t be surprised. (This was written before I saw that Collin Klein was taking the job).

The only other possibility (in my mind) would be if Mike Bobo leaves UGA in some fashion. That might be the only position that would draw Faulkner away at this point. After his previous experience, I imagine (or would at least hope) that teams are a bit more cautious about hiring Mike Bobo as their head coach, and I don’t see UGA firing Bobo, so this probably won’t be an issue.

Likelihood of departure: 2/10

Likely reason for departure: Hired as a P5 Offensive Coordinator likely in the SEC

If Buster Faulkner were to accept a job with another school, how should Georgia Tech go about replacing him?

Two positions would need to be replaced if Faulkner were to get hired away, and I think one of them is a no-brainer. If Faulkner gets hired away, make Chris Weinke the full-time offensive coordinator. Haynes King credits Weinke, not Faulkner, with his development this season.

As for the TE position, it is generally a position reserved for a recruiter. I don’t have anyone particularly in mind like I do for some other folks that we’ll talk about later, but my hope would be for Key to make a recruiting-focused hire here. The question here is if he would opt to add another co-OC or just let Weinke have the job completely. I’m inclined to say that if Key did add another co-OC, he might just upgrade Norval McKenzie from Run Game Coordinator, but that seems unlikely.

I shudder to think about this possibility, but I could see the powers that be push for George Godsey to get a call. Godsey was a great player at Georgia Tech, but his experience has mostly been at the NFL level, not at college. This is probably the only time I would be not totally opposed, though. Weinke would be running the offense, so Godsey would just be another guy on staff maybe serving as a co-OC.

Although Godsey is a QB by trade, the majority of his coaching experience is as a tight ends coach, which Tech would need if Faulkner were hired away. Let’s take a look at how he’s done with tight ends.

George Godsey as a TE Coach

Season Team Player Catches Catch Rate Yards Touchdowns Average
Season Team Player Catches Catch Rate Yards Touchdowns Average
2012 New England Patriots Rob Gronkowski 55 69.62% 790 11 14.36
2012 New England Patriots Aaron Hernandez 51 61.45% 483 5 9.47
2013 New England Patriots Rob Gronkowski 39 59.09% 592 4 15.18
2019 Miami Dolphins Mike Gesicki 51 57.30% 570 5 11.18
2020 Miami Dolphins Mike Gesicki 53 62.35% 703 6 13.26
2021 Miami Dolphins Mike Gesicki 73 65.18% 780 2 10.68
2022 Baltimore Ravens Mark Andrews 73 64.60% 847 5 11.60
2022 Baltimore Ravens Isaiah Likely 36 60.00% 373 3 10.36
2023 Baltimore Ravens Mark Andrews 45 73.77% 544 6 12.09
*2023 season still in progress.

Honestly, looking at the improvement that Mike Gesicki and Mark Andrews have demonstrated, I don’t know that I would be upset about Godsey as the TE coach. Prior to Godsey being his coach, Gesicki had 22 catches for 202 yards and no touchdowns. In his third season with the Dolphins (the year in which Godsey was the co-OC), Gesicki was the second-leading receiver behind Jaylen Waddle.

Andrews was already an all-Pro tight end prior to Godsey’s arrival, but it’s important to know that he is currently set up to have the best catch % of his career.

Now, I’m not saying that Georgia Tech should definitely hire Godsey if Faulkner were to leave, but if Tech is going to hire him, this is probably the role for him. He would almost certainly have to get the co-OC title to make it worth it for him, but I think Tech could make it work.

If Georgia Tech decides to go elsewhere for a new TE coach, the only desire I really have is for it to be a recruiter with ties in the southeast, specifically Georgia.