Examining Azzanni’s ability to develop his players.
There’s much ado about Zach Azzanni leaving his post as WR coach for Tennessee to hold the same position with the Chicago Bears today. Obviously, it’s an improvement in terms of level of competition. Azzanni is luckier than most jumping from college who have to serve at lower-importance positions than his. My issue is that I’ve never been convinced of his ability to actually coach up his own position.
It was barely 20 games ago when Vols fans were beyond tired of Azzanni’s work. If you’ll recall, radio shows were lit up with calls asking for Azzanni’s resignation. Tennessee’s passing game was horrendous. Josh Dobbs led Tennessee in receiving against Florida by way of catching one pass for a 58-yard touchdown. That’s pretty terrible. Tennessee began to win, but it was less about the offense than it was about a lack of great competition and significantly improved defensive play.
While I personally didn’t think Azzanni was very good even this season, I respected his work. He helped bring a lot of talent to the wide receiver group at Tennessee. Prior to Preston Williams’ departure, Tennessee had five blue-chip wide receivers on their roster, which would rank alongside the well-known powerhouses of the SEC. Jauan Jennings became a legend under him. Josh Malone became draftable. Tyler Byrd looks pretty good. However, my questions about his work arose weekly this season.
I thought it might be useful to examine some stats and determine if Azzanni’s work is worth much praise. All stats below are available courtesy of the wonderful CFB Film Room, along with some help from SB Nation.