Boise State has found its new offensive coordinator, one with a penchant for getting the most out of talented quarterbacks. The Broncos formally announced the hiring of Zak Hill on Friday.
Hill will serve as the Broncos’ co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The Idaho Statesman reported Wednesday the school had focused its search on Hill, who was hired as Hawaii’s offensive coordinator in early December. Eliah Drinkwitz left Boise State on Jan. 11 to take over as North Carolina State’s coordinator.
“He’s a great teacher and student of the game, and he’s really taught me a lot ... how to prepare well and be successful,” said former Eastern Washington and Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams. “... He’s a great coach; he’s a great leader. I think he’ll be really good for Boise State.”
Friday also brought news of shifting responsibilities on the Broncos’ staff. Coach Bryan Harsin will call the plays, while offensive line coach Scott Huff will join Hill as co-offensive coordinator and run game coordinator, and receivers coach Junior Adams will be the passing game coordinator. Harsin also called plays as Arkansas State’s head coach in 2013. According to CoachingSearch.com, 35 Football Bowl Subdivision coaches called plays last season.
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“While I’m first and foremost the head coach, I really enjoy the offensive aspect of the game,” Harsin said in a statement. “One of the most exciting parts of coaching is being immersed in the game plan and calling the plays. As we move forward right now, I’ll be in charge of the play calling for the offense. The nice thing is we have spring ball to work through the details and implement the best working system for our offense to be successful.”
Hill was the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Eastern Washington from 2009-15. He coached four Big Sky offensive players of the year during his tenure, including Vernon Adams, who was a two-time runner-up for the Payton Award (the Football Championship Subdivision’s version of the Heisman) before transferring to Oregon last season.
“Zak’s shown a tremendous ability to take young quarterbacks and develop them into not just good players but leaders on the field,” Harsin said in a statement. “The quarterback play at Eastern Washington over the last several years has been really, really good, and the result has been an efficient and explosive offense. While credit goes to a number of people, Zak’s name certainly has to be near the top of the list.”
In those seven seasons, the Eagles were among the FCS top seven in passing yards six times. Junior Adams was the Eagles’ receivers coach from 2009-13.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this staff and really appreciate coach Harsin for allowing me the opportunity,” Hill said. “... When you have a chance to be on the staff of the only team in the country to average 40 points a game over the last 16 years, wow, that’s something as an offensive coach — a quarterback coach — that gets the blood pumping and provides a daily drive to maintain the standard that has been set.”
Only two coaches, Hill and Adams, have left the Eastern Washington staff the past five seasons.
“That’s cool that him and Coach Adams can get back together and coach,” Vernon Adams said. “You saw what we did when it was those two together at Eastern.”
In three seasons at Eastern Washington, Vernon Adams threw for 10,438 yards, 110 touchdowns and 31 interceptions to go with 1,232 rushing yards. He said in Hill, the Broncos will get a coach with “a high football IQ,” one that makes the game enjoyable and hosted multiple barbecues for the quarterbacks every year.
With the Broncos, Hill inherits an experienced group that includes sophomore Brett Rypien, who threw for 3,353 yards with 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 11 games last season as a true freshman.
“He’s just different,” Adams said. “... He’s not one of those coaches who is serious 100 percent of the time. You need a coach that’s going to let loose, talk to you about stuff outside of football. He’s great about that, (but) when it’s time to lock in, we’re all locked in.”
“Our offensive staff room will be super-charged,” Huff said. “Zak’s coming in as the newest member, and he brings an impressive knowledge of the quarterback position. Rid (Kent Riddle) will remain our steady hand in working with the tight ends, who are so integral to our offense. Lee (Marks) is now in his second year with the running backs and working closely on our run game, while also helping Rid with special teams. Junior (Adams) and Zak will team together on the passing game, and having coached together previously we feel really good about that combination. Bottom line, led by Coach Harsin, we’ll all have a role in dialing up the offensive plan and making sure our guys are in the best position to be successful.”
“Zak Hill has a great offensive and quarterback mind,” Adams said. “Believe me, I saw it first-hand when I worked with him at Eastern. There is a chemistry that needs to be developed between quarterbacks and receivers for any offense to be successful. The fact Zak and I have worked together before, specifically on the passing game coordination, puts us that much further ahead in what we are trying to accomplish in the offensive staff room.”