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Inside the Numbers: Josh Gattis and his success as an assistant coach

What does Josh Gattis’ past tell us about what Michigan’s offense will look like in 2019?

Penn State spring football game Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times/MCT via Getty Images

The 2019 season marks the first time new Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis will be calling plays on his own. While Gattis hasn’t had that experience to this point in his career (he’s only 35), Gattis said he was heavily involved in crafting the game-plans for Alabama in 2018 as co-offensive coordinator.

“(Former Alabama OC, current Maryland head coach) Mike Locksley can say I watched him call every play, but ask him where the game plans usually came from?” Gattis said last month. “So I’m fine with that. He did call every play, and I’ve got a notebook upstairs with all the game plans written down in them.” Gattis went on to say “just because I haven’t called plays before, I’ve recommended a lot of plays during games. That’s what it comes down to.”

Gattis has had a swift rise to the upper echelon of college football assistants in a short amount of time. In order to find out why this happened, it’s important to look at Gattis’ coaching career and the accolades he’s received along the way.

Here’s Gattis coaching career to this point.

2010: North Carolina- Offensive Graduate Assistant

2011: Western Michigan- Wide Receivers

2012-13: Vanderbilt- Wide Receivers

2014-17: Penn State- Passing Game Coordinator/Wide Receivers *

2018: Alabama- Co-Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers

2019: Michigan- Offensive Coordinator

* Selected as the 2015 Big Ten Recruiter of the Year by

Gattis accomplished a whole heck of a lot in less than a decade, starting as a graduate assistant and rising to offensive coordinator.

Along the way Gattis has done a fine job coaching wideouts. The proof is in the pudding, and the results speak for themselves. Everywhere Gattis goes, WR’s produce at a high clip.

2013: Jordan Matthews was No. 5 in receiving yards (1,477), No. 5 in receiving yards per game (113.6), and No. 5 in receptions per game (8.6).

2014-17: DaSean Hamilton and Chris Godwin had stellar college careers under Gattis at Penn State, hauling in a combined 368 receptions for 5,263 yards and 36 TD’s.

2018- Jerry Jeudy: No. 10 in receiving yards (1,315), No. 3 in receiving TD’s (14), and No. 23 in receiving yards per game. Jeudy won the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the best WR in college football.

Beyond his position unit, here’s how the passing offense ranked with Gattis as an assistant at Vanderbilt, Penn State, and Alabama.

Passing Yards per Completion

  • 2018: No. 6
  • 2017: No. 62
  • 2016: No. 5
  • 2015: No. 45
  • 2014: No. 97

Passing Offense

  • 2018: No. 6
  • 2017: No. 23
  • 2016: No. 36
  • 2015: No. 74
  • 2014: No. 61

Passing Efficiency

  • 2018- No. 1
  • 2017: No. 14
  • 2016: No. 14
  • 2015: No. 78
  • 2014: No. 108

Gattis’ impact on QB production

At Penn State

- Gattis was not only the wide receivers coach at Penn State, he was the passing game coordinator, too. In both 2016 and 2017, PSU was No. 14 in passing efficiency.

- While Gattis was at Penn State, he was part of the play-calling process. Former Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead told MLive that Gattis gave input in the play-calling process on third-down passing situations and would make in-game suggestions frequently.

- QB Trace McSorley’s best seasons at Penn State transpired with Gattis there in ‘16-17 (and RB Saquon Barkley). McSorley passed for 7,184 yards with 57 TD’s and 18 INT’s while also rushing for 491 yards and 18 TD’s.

- Penn State was No. 5 in passing yards per completion in 2016.

At Alabama

With Gattis in heavily involved in the offensive game-plan, Crimson Tide QB Tua Tagovailoa had a historic season.

- Tua’s 43 touchdown passes in a season shattered A.J. McCarron’s record of 30 in a season.

- His 3,966 passing yards in a season was an Alabama record, a number that was cut short because he only threw 80 passes in the second half last season.

- Tua wasn’t exactly a stationary quarterback, scrambling for a more than modest 190 yards and 5 TD’s.

Takeaways after looking at Gattis’ career to this point

Gattis demeanor and offensive philosophy can be understood to a higher degree when taking a look at the statistics above. All the talk about speed in space seems like a reality, not just a catchphrase.

What the numbers tell us

- Gattis wants a potent passing attack led by a quarterback that can pick up yards with his legs

- Big shots are going to be taken down the field.

- Michigan’s pass:run ratio will favor the pass in 2019. With Gattis at PSU and Bama, they threw the ball an average of 32 times per game, and averaged 29 touchdown passes per season.

- Receivers are in a good situation to improve under Gattis’ tutelage and be among the best at the position in the nation.