Clemson's 5 Best: Top Offensive Coordinators in Program History

Travis Boland

Since the turn of the century, Clemson has produced some of its best offenses in school history, as well as some of the best offensive coordinators the program has ever seen. 

AllClemson takes a look at the five best play-callers on the offensive side of the ball:

5. Rich Rodriguez (1999-2000)

Many credit Rodriguez with the 'zone-read' offense that has permeated every level of football. In 1999 he followed Tommy Bowden to Clemson after helping lead Tulane to a 12-0 perfect season. In his first year, Rodriguez helped the Tiger offense average 403 yards per game (a nearly 100-yard improvement from the year before), score 42 touchdowns (then the fifth most in school history) and break 26 offensive school records.

In 2000, Clemson's offense would finish ranked 14th overall in the country led by quarterback Woody Dantzler and running back Travis Zachery. Both players finished with 13 rushing touchdowns to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference. Dantzler would set an ACC single-game rushing record by a QB with 220 yards against Virginia. Zachery led the ACC in touchdowns with 17. Dantzler finished the season ranked fifth in the conference in passing and third in the conference in rushing.

Rodriguez would accept the head coaching job at West Virginia in Nov. 2000.

4. Rob Spence (2005-08)

Known as the "Mad Scientist" when he stepped on campus, Spence helped the offense improve by nearly 90 yards per game in his first year.

In 2006, Clemson led the ACC in total offense, rushing offense and scoring offense. The Tigers were one of just four schools in the nation to finish with over 2,500 yards rushing and passing in the same season. Clemson finished the year with an ACC-best 55 touchdowns.

In 2007, the offense averaged over 400 yards per game and 33 points per game. For the second time in Clemson history, the Tigers had a 1,0000-yard rusher (James Davis) and 1,000-yard receiver (Aaron Kelly). Quarterback Cullen Harper broke 22 school records.

Over the first three seasons, Clemson won 25 games, the most in three-year period since 1989-91. The Tigers also finished each season in the top four in the ACC in rushing, passing and total offense.

3. Jimmye Laycock (1977-79)

In Laycock's three seasons at Clemson, the Tigers won 27 games including a nation best 10-game win streak during the 1978 season.

In 1977, Clemson quarterback Steve Fuller was named the ACC Player of the Year after leading the conference in total yards (1900), passing touchdowns (8) and passing efficiency (131.9). Jerry Butler led the ACC in receiving yards with 760.

The 1978 season featured 11 wins and an ACC championship. Fuller repeated as ACC POTY leading the league in passing yards (1,515) and passing touchdowns (7). Butler led the ACC in receptions (58) and receiving yards (908) while Lester Brown led the conference with 17 rushing touchdowns. Brown, Fuller and Marvin Sims each finished in the Top 10 individual rushers in the conference. The Tigers finished the season with 3,469 rushing yards, the second-most in school history.

After the 1979 season, Laycock accepted the head coaching job at William & Mary, where he coached until 2018.

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Arkansas head coach Chad Morris walks the field before the Alabama vs. Arkansas game in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

2. Chad Morris (2011-14)

Morris had an immediate impact on the offense, helping the Tigers win the 2011 ACC championship. In his four seasons, Clemson won 41 games and appeared in four bowls including two BCS bowls.

The Tigers re-wrote the record books on offense. Under Morris, the Clemson offense set 127 records and had three of the top four scoring seasons in school history. In 2012, quarterback Tajh Boyd was named ACC Player of the Year after leading the Clemson offense to a then school-record 512.7 yards per game and 41 points per game. Both ranked in the top -10 nationally.

In 2013, the Tigers averaged 40.2 points per game, becoming the first ACC active member to average more than 40 points per game in consecutive seasons. Clemson was also one of only two FBS schools to have a 3,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard receiver in three consecutive seasons (2011-13). Morris was awarded the AFCA National Assistant Coach of the Year after the 2013 season. After the 2014 season, Morris took the head coaching job at SMU and would later be named the head coach at Arkansas.

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1. Tony Elliott/Jeff Scott (2015-19)

These two coaches will forever be linked together as the greatest offensive tandem in Clemson's history.

The duo was promoted to co-offensive coordinator prior to the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl. If Morris re-wrote the record book, these two obliterated it. Last season's 7,931 total yards was the best offensive output by any team in school history. The total also ranked Clemson fifth nationally in the FBS.

While at Clemson, Elliott and Scott helped the Tigers post the four best offensive seasons in school history in terms of total yards and total points. In 2018, Clemson scored 664 points (14th most in NCAA history). The next year they scored 659 points (18th most in NCAA history). It marked the first time an NCAA school had back-to-back 650 point seasons since Yale in 1888-89.

It's not just yards and points that separate Elliott and Scott, but the fact that their teams win football games. During their tenure, Clemson has won an NCAA-best 69 games and won two national championships while playing for two more. 

After the 2017 season, Elliott received the Frank Broyles Award (given to the nation's top assistant coach). It was announced at the end of the 2019 season that Scott would be taking the head coaching position at the University of South Florida. Elliott will stay on at Clemson looking to expand on an already impressive offensive resume.

Comments (1)
No. 1-1
Christopher Hall
Christopher Hall

I love coach Elliott and his story. Not ready to see him leave Clemson just yet but absolutely can’t wait for him to lead his own program one day as a head coach.


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