Sonny Dykes has turned back to the Mike Leach coaching tree to get his new offensive line coach. Eastern Carolina offensive line coach Brandon Jones is taking over in the same capacity at Cal. He actually got a promotion to run game coordinator a few days back, so it's clear Ruffin McNeil wanted him around for the long haul. Football Scoop has the original story.
For those looking for an upgrade in age from Zach Yenser, you'll probably be disappointed, as Jones is only a year older at 31. In terms of experience, though, he has been rolling out at East Carolina all the way back to 2010, and actually was one of my initial candidates for the Cal offensive line position the first time around. For those who missed it the first time around, here's the dossier.
Jones might not be quite as proven as the rest of the coaches on this list, having spent one year at Sam Houston State before joining Ruffin McNeil's staff at ECU the past two seasons. But he is also familiar with the West Coast (he went to high school in Oregon) and he might be more comfortable with a move than some of the other coaches here. He was an excellent center at Texas Tech, earning Rimington Award nominee recognition.
In terms of knowing Bear Raid principles, Jones is pretty much as good as you can get. In the two years since that original post, Jones's offensive lines have gotten progressively better in the run game, last year ranking 37th in the country in yards per run attempt. Jones's offensive lines did give up a bunch of sacks, but they do play a tough non-conference schedule (Virginia Tech, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida the last two years) and it didn't seem to affect their overall offensive output. Cal's offensive line ranked 44th in the country on Football Outsiders's advanced stats; East Carolina's was 42nd. Feels like a pretty good return based on the options we thought we had.
What do you think of the hire?