TCU's Hill Sees Success for Spavital at WVU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

TCU's Hill Sees Success for Spavital at WVU

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Kenny Hill and Jake Spavital worked together at Texas A&M in 2013 and 2014. (PHOTO: Getty Images) Kenny Hill and Jake Spavital worked together at Texas A&M in 2013 and 2014. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
MORGANTOWN -

Dana Holgorsen calls Jake Spavital “one of the hottest” offensive coordinators in college football. Just a few years ago, Spavital was entirely new to the position when he left West Virginia for his first opportunity in the role at Texas A&M.

Back then, serving as co-coordinator alongside current A&M running backs coach Clarence McKinney, Spavital took over an offense that was among the nation’s best with Johnny Manziel at quarterback. The Aggies ranked fourth in total offense in 2013.

That’s when Spavital dropped the “co-“ from his title and led the process to replace a Heisman Trophy winner behind center.

In 2014, current TCU quarterback Kenny Hill took over as starter for the Aggies and his debut with Spavital was better than could have been expected. Hill passed for a school record 511 yards with three touchdowns as the offense plowed over No. 9 South Carolina to set the tone for a 5-0 start to the season.

“When we would go in and the game plans we would have, I’m like, man, this is sick,” Hill said of his time with Spavital. “Some of the plays he would have on there, I was like, this is real. It’s just stuff like that.”

Those sick game plans produced nearly 2,700 passing yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions through eight games before Hill was suspended for a violation of team rules. A 59-0 loss to Alabama was the last time Hill and Spavital took the field together. Hill left College Station for Fort Worth at the end of the season and Spavital departed the following year.

The A&M offense had gone from averaging 538.4 yards and 44.2 points per game in 2013 to just 424.7 yards and 27.8 points in 2015. Hill and Kyle Allen, Spavital’s top two quarterback options after Manziel left, both transferred rather than finishing their careers with the Aggies.

In 2016, Spavital and Hill got the fresh start they each sought. The University of California hired Spavital as offensive coordinator, where the Golden Bears ranked in the top five nationally in passing yards and the top 10 in total offense. Quarterback Davis Webb tossed 37 touchdowns to 12 interceptions, averaging the second-most passing yards per game behind Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes.

Hill passed for 3,208 yards with 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in a disappointing 6-7 season for the Horned Frogs.

Now, Spavital is back where he was before he became an offensive coordinator, only this time, Holgorsen isn’t just asking him to coach quarterbacks. He returns to Morgantown trusted to call plays after six seasons of Holgorsen handling those responsibilities on his own.

“I’ve got complete confidence in Jake Spavital,” Holgorsen said. “I trained him for four years. He was my personal GA [graduate assistant] for four years and trained him how to do things. He went out on his own and did a lot of really good things. He knows how I think. I know how he thinks. So I've got 100 percent complete confidence in him being able to do this.”

It took Spavital leaving after the 2012 season for him to gain that complete confidence from Holgorsen. He had to take his lumps as an offensive coordinator and push through to find the success that he now plans to bring to the Mountaineers. It helps that his group boasts quarterback Will Grier and the top returning running back in the conference, Justin Crawford.

Hill, while focused on changing TCU’s fortunes, believes Spavital will do well as an experienced coordinator in the Big 12.

“I love Coach Spav,” Hill said at Big 12 Media Days. “He’s a great guy and I know he’s going to do a great job at West Virginia. He was just getting his feet wet [at Texas A&M]. Everybody was hating on him, but there’s only so much you can – even at A&M, there’s a bunch of people that would hate on him. It comes with it. I think he’s going to do really good at West Virginia.”

The two will meet on the field as WVU travels to play TCU in Fort Worth on Oct. 7.  

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