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Get to know WSU's new head football coach Nick Rolovich

We are diving into his past before coming to the Palouse, plus how his teams have performed on offense and defense.

PULLMAN, Wash. — Nick Rolovich will be the 33rd head coach in Washington State University football history. 

Now that the initial news has passed, I figured it was time to get to know Rolo in a variety of ways. 


Rolo grew up in the Bay and played quarterback for City College of San Francisco for two years before playing at Hawaii for two years. You may recognize the name City College of San Francisco. That's because its where Anthony Gordon played before he came to WSU. 

After a few stops at various minor league football teams, Rolo got his first job in the college ranks at, you guessed it, City College of San Francisco, coaching the quarterbacks in 2006. He then went and coached the quarterbacks at Hawaii in 2008 before being elevated to offensive coordinator in 2010. 

Rolo then made the move back to the mainland to be the offensive coordinator at Nevada in 2012. He went back to Hawaii to be the head coach in December of 2015. 

Nick Rolovich is also known to have a bit of a zany personality. He's brought a tarot card reader, a Britney Spears impersonator and an Elvis impersonator on separate occasions to Mountain West Media Day in Las Vegas. He may not be Leach, but there will still be some silliness in Pullman.


Let's move on to his teams. We're going to start first with what Rolovich does on offense. If you've paid any attention over the past few days, Rolo runs the Run and Shoot offense. But what exactly does that mean?

The run and shoot offense employs four receivers and one running back. The Air Raid also uses four receivers, so no adjustment is needed there. 

The main emphasis of the offense is wide receiver motion, including before and after the ball is snapped. They use motion to help identify the defensive coverages and also encourage wide receivers to change their routes during play to adjust to defensive coverages. The Air Raid was a little more strict than this, but it shouldn't be a tough adjustment at WSU.

Just how successful was the Run and Shoot in Hawaii? Well, it was very successful. Hawaii had the fifth best passing offense in the country last year. According to a CougCenter article, Hawaii passed the ball 61% of the time last year compared to the Cougs' 77%. Translation: Max Borghi will run more. 

Hawaii was also a lot more successful in the red zone, as they scored a touchdown 72% of the time they got inside their opponent's 20, compared to WSU at 65% last year. They were more successful on third down as well, converting 47% of the time compared to the Cougs' 43% of the time last season.


Nick Rolovich's offense definitely gets a thumbs up. His defense, though, has left something to be desired.

In the total defense category, Hawaii ranked 96th in the country, allowing opposing teams 431 yards per game. But hey, that's still better than WSU. They allowed 452 yards per game. 

The yardage stat would lend towards teams scoring a lot on Hawaii, and that's what happened. Against FBS teams, Hawaii averaged allowing 33 points per game. It was nearly the same story for WSU last year, as they averaged allowing 32.5 points per game against FBS competition. 

Basically, what I am trying to say here is that the number one priority for Rolovich is hiring a good defensive coordinator. It's not his specialty as an offensive coach and WSU can't rely on just out gunning other teams in the Pac-12 to win. That was pretty apparent this past season.

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