There’s so much to like about new N.C. State offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz, Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren couldn’t name just one reason he hired the former Boise State assistant.
“He has worked for and learned from some really good coaches,” Doeren said. “He’s also a really good teacher. He has great energy and a great personality.”
Doeren hired Drinkwitz, 32, on Monday to take over as the Wolfpack’s play-caller and quarterbacks coach. Drinkwitz will get a three-year contract worth $450,000 annually to replace former offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
Drinkwitz learned the spread offense from Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and worked for Bryan Harsin at both Boise State and Arkansas State. Throw in Drinkwitz’s success this season at Boise State, both statistically and with a first-time starter at quarterback, and the decision to bring him to N.C. State was a no-brainer for Doeren.
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The Broncos, who went 9-4, ranked 15th in the county in both scoring (39.1 points per game) and total offense (501.3 yards per game). Freshman quarterback Brett Rypien stepped in for injured starter Ryan Finley in the third game and finished with 3,353 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
“And the guy got better and better as the year went on,” Doeren said.
N.C. State has to replace two-year starter Jacoby Brissett at quarterback next season with either third-year sophomore Jalan McClendon or redshirt freshman Jakobi Meyers.
“For us, with our situation, that was good to see,” Doeren said of Rypien’s development under Drinkwitz.
Doeren made the decision to dismiss Canada, who worked the past three seasons as N.C. State’s offensive coordinator, after the Wolfpack finished the season with a 7-6 record. Canada was hired last week at Pittsburgh for the same position.
The Wolfpack had success the past two seasons under Canada running the ball and returns its top four rushers next season. N.C. State ranked No. 31 in the country in rushing offense with 202.1 yards per game.
Doeren believes Drinkwitz will be able to blend what he did at Boise State, a combination of Auburn’s spread scheme with Stanford’s power running game – he worked with former Cardinal offensive coordinator Mike Sanford at Boise State in 2014 – at N.C. State.
“We want to continue to do what we did well, and there’s a lot of that still in his system,” Doeren said. “but he has some unique ideas.”
Drinkwitz started his coaching career as an assistant on the high school level in Arkansas. He worked at Springdale High for four seasons from 2006 to ’09. That’s the same high school that launched the meteoric rise of Malzahn, who is considered one of the best offensive minds in college football, through the coaching ranks.
Drinkwitz was a graduate assistant at Auburn in 2010 and ’11, learning from Malzahn, who was the Tigers’ offensive coordinator during their national championship season in 2010. In 2012, he followed Malzahn to Arkansas State, where Drinkwitz coached the running backs. Harsin replaced Malzahn at Arkansas State in 2013 and Drinkwitz added co-offensive coordinator to his title.
When Harsin got the Boise State job in 2014, Drinkwitz joined his staff as the Broncos’ tight ends coach. Drinkwitz was promoted to offensive coordinator this season, after Sanford left for the same position at Notre Dame.
In addition to Rypien’s success, he was the all-conference quarterback and led the Mountain West in passing yards, completions (273) and attempts (429), the Broncos and had a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver with Drinkwitz calling the plays.
Doeren was hopeful Drinkwitz could meet with the N.C. State players by Friday and help out with the last two weeks of recruiting. After signing day, Drinkwitz will be able to dig in more to his new job, Doeren said.
“He has to learn the strengths of what we have coming back and how that will work with what he wants to do,” Doeren said.
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio
College: Arkansas Tech (2004)
College coaching experience:
Offensive coordinator (quarterbacks)
Co-offensive coordinator (running backs)
Graduate assistant (offense)
Graduate assistant (offense)