Fresno State offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer, who in two seasons helped flip the Bulldogs’ football fortunes, is expected to leave the program to be the offensive coordinator at Indiana.
Under DeBoer, the Bulldogs went from 12th and last in the Mountain West in scoring and total offense to eighth and ninth in a 10-4 season in 2017 and to third and fourth in a 12-2 season that included a conference championship and a Las Vegas Bowl victory.
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Quarterback Marcus McMaryion this season also had one of the most productive seasons in Fresno State history, completing 68.6 percent of his passes for 3,629 yards with 25 touchdowns and just five interceptions. His passing efficiency rating was 156.99, a few points higher than the 156.29 Derek Carr posted in a record-setting 2013 season.
Comparing the numbers in the season before DeBoer arrived to his two seasons:
2016: 329.3 ypg, 17.7 ppg
2017: 392.9 ypg, 27.1 ppg
2018: 421.5 ypg, 34.6 ppg
Coach Jeff Tedford was not available on Friday to comment – Indiana has not announced a hire, but it was reported by The Athletic and confirmed by sources close to the Fresno State program.
Fresno State athletics director Terry Tumey had said after the Bulldogs won the Mountain West with a 19-16 overtime victory at Boise State that maintaining the continuity of the staff was a critical piece in continued success.
But for a second year in a row Tedford will be looking to replace a coordinator – defensive coordinator Orlondo Steinauer returned to Hamilton in the Canadian Football League following the 2017 season and is now the Tiger-Cats head coach.
Indiana offensive coordinator Mike DeBord, who retired following the 2018 season, was paid $502,000. At Fresno State, DeBoer made $333,000.
When Steinauer left, Tedford moved quickly to elevate linebackers coach Bert Watts to defensive coordinator and in the spring hired Kenwick Thompson to coach linebackers. He could make a similar move to maintain continuity with the offense by promoting offensive line coach and run game coordinator Ryan Grubb, or look outside the program.
That stability paid off for the Bulldogs defense in 2018, and a similar move could help Fresno State deal with a big changeover on offense in 2019. Gone are seniors including McMaryion; four offensive line starters in left tackle Christian Cronk, left guard Logan Hughes, right guard Micah St. Andrew and center Markus Boyer; wideouts KeeSean Johnson, Jamire Jordan, Michiah Quick and Delvon Hardaway; and tight ends Kyle Riddering and David Tangipa.
Using the same terminology with Watts that it did with Steinauer and delving deeper into their defense, the Bulldogs last season continued to develop into one of the top units in the nation. Fresno State ranked third in the FBS in scoring defense in 2018, allowing just 14.1 points per game. It also led the nation in red zone defense, was 17th in total defense and 23rd in third-down defense.
Tedford hired DeBoer from Eastern Michigan, where he spent three seasons and had similar success turning around an offense. The Eagles in 2016 set a school record for total offense when going 7-5 in the regular season and played in a bowl game for the first time since 1987.