Kentucky football: 5 things to know about new OC Liam Coen
Kentucky’s offense has its new leader, with L.A. Rams assistant coach Liam Coen getting the nod as the new coordinator for Kentucky. For a staff that has often prized SEC or at least Power 5 experience, Coen is a different kind of hire. So who is Liam Coen? What do you need to know about him? Start right here.
1. McVay 2.0?
Yes, Coen is a Sean McVay guy. McVay, who is actually one year younger than Coen (35), was a boy wonder NFL head coach and comes off the Mike Shanahan coaching tree. McVay is noted as being an offensive wizard and a fairly relatable guy who gets along well with others. Several of McVay’s assistants, like Matt LaFleur and Zac Taylor, have followed him into head coaching roles. Rams assistant Shane Waldron was also mentioned for the Kentucky job, so Coen’s prestige definitely centers around his connections with McVay.
2. New to the SEC, but not college football
No Power 5 experience, but plenty of college football is in Coen’s past. Before he worked for the Rams for the past 3 seasons, Coen was the offensive coordinator at FCS Maine for 2 years. He also coached at UMass, Brown and Rhode Island. Pitt offensive coordinator Mark Whipple helped mentor Coen. He recruited Coen to play for him at UMass, but then left to work as the QB coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
3. Air Coen
As is not uncommon with offensive coordinator types, Coen will work from the mentality of a quarterback, since he played the position at UMass from 2004-2008. At one time, Coen roomed with future New York Giants WR Victor Cruz. Coen passed for 11,031 yards and 90 touchdowns, and was good enough to earn a shot from the Alabama Vipers of the Arena Football League before he decided to move into coaching.
4. More about balance, less about bombs
Look for balanced, pro-style offenses in Lexington under Coen. All indications are that Coen didn’t come to UK to run the Air Raid. Given Stoops’ defensive-minded strategy at UK, finding an offensive coordinator who would emphasize the run game felt like a certainty. With bullying running back Chris Rodriguez and some of the standout talents from an outstanding UK offensive line, while Coen will look to revitalize the passing game, he won’t forget the ground game, either. In his last season at Maine, Coen coached the leading FCS rusher in yardage per game, Josh Mack.
5. Could’ve been a Boston College Eagle
Los Angeles Rams assistant wide receivers coach Liam Coen will stay put rather than join Boston College as offensive coordinator, according to a source. BC will continue to look for Scot Loeffler's successor. Coen is a UMass graduate who served as… https://t.co/nd4IcVPJAn
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) December 5, 2018
Coen was considered for the Boston College offensive coordinator spot after the 2018 season. Obviously, given his New England pedigree, Coen had strong ties to the area, but he ultimately chose not to return to college coaching then. BC went with Mike Bajakian, who is now at Northwestern.