Mississippi State has seen a recent spike in coaches leaving in the offseason in recent years. This year, the coaching carousel is picking back up in Starkville as long-time strength coach Matt Balis left Starkville last week to take the same position at Connecticut. On Wednesday, the Bulldogs lost a bigger piece of the puzzle when offensive coordinator Les Koenning left Mississippi State to go back home to his alma mater, Texas.
Koenning joins new coach Charlie Strong after five seasons in his second stint at MSU. The over-criticized Koenning was a staple in the development of quarterbacks Chris Relf, Tyler Russell and the emerging Dak Prescott. The coach also helped lead offenses that posted top 10 seasons in total offense including the top four single season total offense records. 2013 was especially a big year for the Bulldogs as they finished the year with school records in completions (253), completion percentage (.589), passing yards (3,178), passing yards per game (244.5), total plays (956), total offense (5,647), yards per game (434.4), touchdowns (47) and first downs (305).
Koenning was also instrumental in landing two four-star wide receivers in last year's recruiting class, building a pipeline to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and developing relationships inside of the state of Texas for recruiting. His absence leaves a bit of a void in recruiting that Dan Mullen will have to fill.
The biggest hole left, however, is the production he got working with Bulldog quarterbacks and developing their mechanics. Filling that void will be the big obstacle for Mullen moving forward.
Although Koenning was criticized despite constant production from the on-field product, the coach conducted himself with class and dignity throughout his career. Texas and Charlie Strong have a valued asset joining the Longhorn staff soon.
As the process moves a long, Bulldog Blitz will keep an eye on the coaching search and possible candidates for the job. One name that might gain traction and be a thought for Mullen is his assistant, Billy Gonzales. Gonzales has experience as an offensive coordinator and developed MSU's wide receivers this season.
More likely, though, is Mullen making a move for a quarterback developer. Look for quarterback coaches or offensive coordinator's with that background to be the main focal point because that was the key ingredient to MSU's offensive success over the last five years.