Would Iowa State be more successful if Tom Herman was still offensive coordinator? It is an interesting question, and one that could require an in depth look from multiple angles.
The most points per game Iowa State ever averaged with Herman was 22.7 in 2011. Last year under Courtney Messingham’s direction, the offense finished the season averaging 24.5 points per game. Despite the increase, this year’s offense has only averaged 22.4 points per game, and last game against TCU the only offensive touchdown came as a result of a fake punt.
The most interesting stat to compare the two coordinators is record in close games. With Herman as offensive coordinator, the Cyclones were 9-5 in games decided by 7 points or less, including 5-1 in 2011. Under Messingham, Iowa State has a record of 1-6 in the same category, with the loan win coming in a 9-6 victory at Kinnick Stadium.
While victories in close games are certainly not all do to an offenses success or lack thereof, it certainly is an interesting statistic in this case.
Numbers alone do not tell the whole story though. Messingham is coaching in a more developed program, and therefore a program that should be better prepared to be successful offensively. Herman never had the depth at wide receiver, running back, or tight ends that Messingham has today.
Players who started under Herman and had big games are back-ups this season.
James White, the senior captain who led the team in rushing in 2011, is no longer getting carries. Shontrelle Johnson has started games, but is also losing carries to the likes of Aaron Wimberly and DeVondrick Nealy. Jarvis West and Albert Gary are listed as back-ups at slot receiver, and do not even get me started on the offensive line.
Even with the injuries, Messingham has more to work with. Paul Rhoads has dedicated time and effort into recruiting talented players at the offensive skill positions. Despite this, offensive improvement is nowhere to be found.
It is hard to believe the Cyclones’ offense would be good, let alone great no matter who was calling the plays. Despite this, I believe Tom Herman would have helped the Cyclones win games against Texas, TCU, and UNI.
Last season would have been a different story too. Perhaps with Herman calling the shots, Iowa State would have beaten Texas Tech, Kansas State, and West Virginia. Perhaps the Cyclones would have won eight or nine games in 2012.
Had Herman stayed in Ames or had Paul Rhoads hired a different offensive coordinator, it is hard to not believe the last two seasons would have changed for the better.