Will Helton find success at WKU?

Published 1:09 pm Thursday, December 6, 2018

Former Tennessee offensive coordinator Tyson Helton has found a home in Bowling Green Kentucky, with the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

Although this is Helton’s first stint as a head coach, he has extensive history as an assistant coach, including two seasons as the Hilltopper’s offensive coordinator under former WKU head coach and newly named Louisville head coach Jeff Brohm.

In 2014 and 2015 Helton turned the Hilltoppers into one of the highest rated offenses in the country. Behind the arm of quarterback Brandon Doughty, the team was sixth in the country in points scored per game in 2014, and third in the country in points-per-game in 2015. Helton’s 2015 offense finished in the top 10 nationally in total yards per game, passing yards per game, scoring, and passing efficiency, and he was among the finalists for the FootballScoop Offensive Coordinator of the Year award.

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How will Helton’s coaching aid WKU since his departure and re-arrival to the program? The Hilltoppers don’t have the same caliber of quarterback as they did in the past with the likes of Doughty. Instead, the Hilltoppers are led by a duo of young quarterbacks; redshirt freshman Davis Shanley and redshirt sophomore Steve Duncan are expected to return next season. Neither quarterback has put up the type of numbers that Doughty did under Helton. Can Helton turn these young quarterbacks into Heisman hopefuls? We will see.

As offensive coordinator for the University of Tennessee, Helton took a struggling quarterback in Jarrett Guarantano and increased his productivity by a substantial margin. In 2017, Guarantano threw for 997 yards, with only four touchdowns and two interceptions. In 2018, under coach Helton, Guarantano was much more efficient with 1,907 yards passing and a 12/3 touchdown to interception ratio.

Although this is his first opportunity as a head coach, Helton has proven that he can develop quarterbacks and lead a productive offense. Will Helton take full responsibility of the offense, or hire an up-and-coming offensive coordinator? Again,we will see.

If Helton assumes play calling responsibilities, I expect Western Kentucky’s offense to flourish. He has two young quarterbacks that are unpolished and if he can develop them like he is capable of, I fully expect the Hilltopper offense to be making headlines for a while.