A look at Walt Bell’s offenses in the national rankings

According to multiple reports, including first by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Indiana is set to hire former UMass head coach Walt Bell as its next offensive coordinator.

The 37-year-old Bell will be Tom Allen’s fourth offensive coordinator in six seasons, following Mike DeBord, Kalen DeBoer and Nick Sheridan.  Allen and Bell both served as coordinators at different times under former Florida State and South Florida head coach Willie Taggart.

Bell served three years as the UMass head coach, and prior to that was an offensive coordinator for five seasons at three stops at the Division One level.

Let’s go year-by-year and look at how Bell’s offenses performed on a national basis.

ARKANSAS STATE (2014-15)

Bell’s first stint as a play caller came with the Red Wolves in the Sun Belt Conference.  This is where he made a name for himself and became thought of as an offensive guru.

2014

  • Points per game:  No. 19 (36.6 points per game)
  • Total offense:  No. 20 (476.5 yards per game)
  • Passing offense:  No. 40 (260.1 yards per game)
  • Rushing offense:  No. 27 (216.4 yards per game)

2015

  • Points per game:  No. 12 (40.0 points per game)
  • Total offense:  No. 37 (438.5 yards per game)
  • Passing offense:  No. 85 (207.2 yards per game)
  • Rushing offense:  No. 15 (231.3 yards per game)

MARYLAND (2016-17)

Bell went on to spend two seasons in the Big Ten East at Maryland where he was the play caller both years under head coach D.J. Durkin.

2016

  • Points per game:  No. 88 (25.8 points per game)
  • Total offense:  No. 93 (377.8 yards per game)
  • Passing offense:  No. 106 (178.2 yards per game)
  • Rushing offense:  No. 43 (199.5 yards per game)

2017

  • Points per game:  No. 100 (24.1 points per game)
  • Total offense:  No. 120 (323.3 yards per game)
  • Passing offense:  No. 116 (161.7 yards per game)
  • Rushing offense:  No. 69 (161.7 yards per game)

It is worth noting that Maryland opened the 2017 season with a stunning 51-41 win over Texas, but injuries to quarterbacks Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill by week three created a season not unlike Indiana’s 2021 campaign, with the Terps relying on third and fourth string QBs.

The Terrapins averaged 39 points per game in their two meetings with IU with Bell calling plays.

FLORIDA STATE (2018)

2018

  • Points per game:  No. 113 (21.9 points per game)
  • Total offense:  No. 103 (361.2 yards per game)
  • Passing offense:  No. 28 (270.1 yards per game)
  • Rushing offense:  No. 127 (91.1 yards per game)

The 2018 season was one of the Seminoles’ worst offensive seasons in school history.  Bell split time as the play-caller with Head Coach Willie Taggart before taking over play-calling duties full-time for the final stretch of the season.  The offense was not meaningfully better in those final four weeks.

Bell’s offense struggled in part due to an offensive line decimated with injuries.  FSU quarterback Deondre Francois also didn’t show significant improvement throughout the season.

Indiana wide receiver D.J. Matthews played in Bell’s system at FSU.

UMASS (2019-21)

At age 34, Bell became one of the youngest head coaches in the FBS when he took over at UMass following the 2018 campaign.  In 2019 the Minutemen were the youngest FBS team in the nation.

In addition to his head coaching duties, Bell was also the offensive play caller in 2019 and 2021, but not in 2020 when he ceded those duties to Angelo Mirando.

Often referred to as one of the more challenging jobs in college football, the offensive picture painted during Bell’s tenure is not pretty.  UMass is one of seven college football independents.

2019

  • Points per game:  No. 118 (19.8 points per game)
  • Total offense:  No. 126 (293.1 yards per game)
  • Passing offense:  No. 117 (168.5 yards per game)
  • Rushing offense:  No. 114 (124.6 yards per game)

2020 (4 games)

  • Points per game:  No. 127 (3.0 points per game)
  • Total offense:  No. 127 (187.5 yards per game)
  • Passing offense:  No. 123 (120.3 yards per game)
  • Rushing offense:  No. 126 (67.25 yards per game)

2021

  • Points per game:  No. 126 (16.3 points per game)
  • Total offense:  No. 122 (299.7 yards per game)
  • Passing offense:  No. 123 (152.7 yards per game)
  • Rushing offense:  No. 81 (147 yards per game)

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