Halzle Looks to Keep UT Offense Moving

By Mark Nagi

What a year it was for the Tennessee Volunteers offense. In 2022, the Vols had the top offense in the country in total offense at 525.5 yards per game and scoring at 46.1 points per game. They finished second with 7.23 in yards per play.

The last thing Tennessee wants is significant change. So, it wasn’t a surprise that back in January head coach Josh Heupel promoted quarterbacks coach Joey Halzle to the offensive coordinator position, left vacant after Alex Golesh took the head coaching job at South Florida.

“[Heupel] called me and said, ‘Are you ready?’ I said, ‘Yes sir,’ and he said ‘Okay.’ That was kind of the end of that one,” said Halzle.

“Joey has been instrumental in our record-setting offensive success over the past two seasons, and he’s built great trust within our team,” said Heupel in a statement from the University of Tennessee last month. “I have known Joey for over 15 years, and his track record of player development has impacted every place he has been. He has complete knowledge of our aggressive offensive identity and principles. Having played and coached at this level, he understands how to connect with players and will continue to make a significant impact in recruiting. This will be a seamless transition for him as we strive to build a championship program that Vol Nation is proud of.”

That familiarity on a personal level, as well as for UT’s offensive scheme, made Halzle the expected choice.

“He sees that I am doing it the right way and the way that he wants it done, and he sees that I can be a benefit to the program because if he did not see it that way, it would not have happened,” said Halzle. “He was not just doing it just to do it. That was the biggest thing. He is instilling the confidence without having to give you a pep talk, because he understands that this was the best thing for the program, in his opinion.”

“Joey and I came in together,” said Tennessee defensive coordinator Tim Banks. “He is never too high and never too low. He is a guy that has obviously played the position, and he is a rockstar. I think he will do a tremendous job here. I’m one of his biggest fans… we feel really good about the way — the direction — the offense is headed under his leadership. He’s smart, bright and passionate, and the way he carries himself and the leadership style he has, you can see it in the way our quarterbacks perform week in and week out.”

In this offense, the coordinator doesn’t call the plays. That’s Heupel’s responsibility. But Halzle made key contributions that led to the win in the Orange Bowl, and he expects to do more of the same starting this Fall.

“The Orange Bowl was still us,” said Halzle. “That’s who we are. We’re going to play with tempo. We’re going to go vertical on people. We’re going to dictate the pace of play. We’re going to dictate what the defense can and can’t do, when they can sub and when they can’t. The aggression of which we attack, we try and score from all over the field. One of our biggest sayings is it’s really hard to score when you aren’t trying. So, we try to score the ball. Whenever we get it, we anticipate crossing the goal line with it. That is who we are. We are going to attack, that isn’t changing. That’s what we are, that’s what we said we were going to be the first day we got here. Nothing of that is changing now.”