The hiring of Doug Nussmeier as the new offensive coordinator at Michigan was met with great cheer from Michigan fans, as it should be. The hire is a home run in the departments that Michigan need it to be: The name and resume are impressive enough that it won’t really worry recruits; he has SEC roots and SEC recruiting relationships; and he’s a pro-style coordinator.
However, that’s all perception (which in football, means a lot). But whether or not he can make something out of this offense is something that won’t be seen truly until next fall.
But looking at Nussmeier’s first seasons at his previous three stops (Alabama in 2012, Washington in 2009 and Fresno State in 2008) should give fans confidence that he’ll be able to improve Michigan’s offense.
At Alabama in 2012, the Crimson Tide were coming off a national title (and were en route to winning another), yet Nussmeier still managed to increase their offensive statistics in most areas. The only notable decline was in the number of sacks the O-line allowed -- going from 17 in 2011 to 23 in 2012 -- even though Alabama had Rimington Award winner Barrett Jones. And with Michigan needing to replace All-American left tackle Taylor Lewan and veteran right tackle Mike Schofield (plus, figuring out what to do with the interior O-line), Nussmeier will have his work cut out for him on the offensive line as it was one of the biggest struggles for the Wolverines this year.
The 2009 season at Washington was a complete turnaround. The Huskies had gone 0-12 the season before and with a brand new staff (Steve Sarkisian as head coach, Nick Holt as defensive coordinator), Washington managed a 5-7 season. He improved the Huskies greatly, most notably, nearly doubling their points total per game.
Nussmeier also worked with quarterback Jake Locker, who had played in just four games in 2008, throwing only one touchdown before suffering a season-ending injury in the fourth game after getting the team off to a 0-3 start. But in 2009 Locker came back and threw for 2,800 yards and 21 touchdowns.
It was an impressive turnaround for Nussmeier, who had experienced just his first season as an offensive coordinator the season before at Fresno State. That was a rocky year at Fresno State and none of the stats were majorly improved upon, though he did increase their success in the red zone. At Fresno State, he actually filled the spot left by Jim McElwain, who had left for the offensive coordinator position at Alabama. It would be the exact same exchange three years later at Alabama when McElwain left for the head coaching job at Colorado State.
At each stop he has bettered the offense more than in his previous stop. That is largely due to the expanded talent pool that he saw from Fresno State to Washington and then Alabama, but it does say a lot about his coaching as well.