Clay Helton of the Georgia Southern Eagles
Clay Helton hasn’t always had a ton of success, but since he moved to Georgia to lead the Georgia Southern Eagles, he is absolutely thriving.
The 51-year old head coach from Gainesville, Florida who finished his college playing career with the Houston Cougars back in the 1990’s, did fairly well with the USC Trojans, though USC fans wanted more from him than what he delivered. And after going 46-24 with the Trojans, he was fired and then promptly hired by the Georgia Southern Eagles.
What really impresses me about Helton is the way that he has taken a program that is historically known for running the triple option and, in the span of a couple seasons, turned the Eagles into one of the best passing attacks in the country.
In 2021, the season prior to the hiring of Helton, the Eagles averaged 147 passing yards per game and 20 points per game. The offense was horrendous.
In 2022, Helton’s first season with Georgia Southern, the Eagles doubled their win total from three to six, managed to make a bowl game in a competitive Sun Belt, averaged nearly 33 points per game, and threw for nearly 330 yards per game.
Now, in 2023, Helton has already reached bowl eligibility with six wins (with four intriguing games left on the schedule), and the Eagles are averaging 320.6 passing yards per game and 33.8 points per game.
His work with offensive coordinator Bryan Ellis should be a case study in how quickly a team can be turned from a sluggish, run-based system into a dynamic passing machine.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Clay Helton is a good coach.