KNOXVILLE — Tennessee’s coaching search is in its 22nd day to replace offensive coordinator Tyson Helton.
The search to replace Helton comes in a time for Jeremy Pruitt to look for a coach that he is comfortable with in guiding the Vols’ offense.
One candidate to fill the vacancy is with UT Player Development analyst Joe Osovet.
Osovet served as head coach at Nassau Community College from 2013-15 before taking the head coaching position at ASA College from 2016-17, making him the only coach on Pruitt’s staff with prior collegiate head coaching experience.
Before becoming a head coach, Osovet served as offensive coordinator at Nassau CC and wide receivers coach at LIU.
Nassau CC quarterbacks coach Marc Poppe recently discussed Osovet being “an innovator” of the RPO with Vols Wire. Osovet started the scheme in 2001, calling it manipulation plays.
Now, thanks to Osovet, manipulation plays are the face of college football as RPOs are widespread.
As UT’s coaching search continues, ASA running backs coach and Director of Football Operations Jason Depew discussed Osovet and his first season at Tennessee with Vols Wire.
“He (Pruitt) thought Coach Osovet was good enough and just did not have a spot for him on the field, but was good enough and wanted to keep him around so someone else could not scoop him up,” Depew who worked with Osovet for six seasons told Vols Wire. “It was a way to bring him in, opportunity-wise, and if something opens up then maybe he could step up to a position coach job or even possibly to an offensive coordinator job.”
Now that Helton left Tennessee to become Western Kentucky’s head coach, Pruitt is looking for an offensive coordinator and even a possible restructuring of his staff.
Depew discussed what Osovet would bring to Tennessee’s offense, either as an offensive coordinator or as a position coach by being more hands on.
“He has a great football mind and it never stops,” Depew said of Osovet. “He is always looking at ways to manipulate the defense and gets reads at every level. They talk about him being an innovator of the downfield RPO, taking shots and reading the third-level, he was one of the first guys to start that second and third-level RPO, but we were reading multiple levels on any given play. We read the defensive line, linebackers and safeties.”
If Osovet were to be assigned to the offensive coordinator position, Depew discussed how long it would take for players, and especially quarterbacks, to grasp the RPO-oriented offense.
He says 15 spring practices is an ideal amount of time to understand the offense and to be ready for the season.
“For someone who has a mind that moves quick, is sharp, has football knowledge, it is a simplistic thing – once you know what you are supposed to read and know what they are going to do, it is simplistic,” Depew said. “As a staff, we were not as successful without a quarterback coming in during the spring. We always had a guy come in the spring and he is ready by the start of the season.
“We only had one instance when we were together where we had a freshman and did not start until mid-season. He came along way from starting in the summer and then to start after someone ahead of him got injured. After all of his practices under his belt, by the fifth or sixth game he was better when he came in. Spring ball definitely helps learning his offense.”
As the wait continues for Pruitt to fill his staff, Depew concluded by talking about staying in touch with Osovet this past season and how he handled a non-coaching position.
“He is excited and he likes it and is always pumped and ready to go to practices,” Depew said. “He is always amped-up and never dull. He has all of these ideas and was kind of a new role for him this year and not being a head coach or even a position coach, but Coach Pruitt likes him and takes some of his suggestions that he has and whether they use them or not in games I cannot say if they do or don’t.
“It was a different type of offense he was apart of this year. It was a little adjustment for him going from offensive coordinator to head coach to now him working his way back up.”