Mike Sanford’s Western Kentucky Hilltoppers didn’t exactly live up to expectations in 2017. A big reason for that was the performance of the offensive line that allowed Mike White to get sacked 48 times.
In order to combat that issue, Sanford made his first adjustment to his coaching staff since he arrived in Bowling Green with the hiring of TJ Woods earlier this week.
Woods takes over the offensive line duties from Geoff Dart. Dart will remain on staff as the 10th full-time assistant of WKU’s staff, but he will be in a new role that has yet to be determined. Dart is still undergoing medical treatment for multiple tumors found in his brain this past fall.
Here’s what Woods had to say about joining the Hilltoppers:
“My wife, Kelly, and I are excited to be a part of the Hilltopper family, To be able to work for Coach Sanford and represent Western Kentucky University is a tremendous opportunity, and I look forward to building on the great tradition of tough, tenacious offensive line play here at WKU. My family and I are eager to join the Bowling Green community and get to work.” — via WKU Football
Woods spent the last three seasons as a member of Gary Andersen’s staff at Oregon State. In addition to being the o-line coach of the Beavers, Woods was co-offensive coordinator and run game coordinator. While he will not serve the same role with WKU, it certainly helps the Tops’ cause to have someone with division one run-blocking expertise on staff. WKU had the fewest rushing yards in all of FBS last season with 791.
Here are a few highlights from his resume:
- Seven linemen that he coached in college are currently on NFL rosters (Sean Harlow, Isaac Seumalo, Tyler Larsen, Tyler Marz, Ryan Groy, Rob Havenstein, Byron Bell)
- Oregon State’s offense rushed for an average of 5.2 yards per carry in 2016, a school record
- Woods coached the Wisconsin offensive line that paved the way for Melvin Gordon in 2014 when he had the second-most rushing yards in a season in FBS history (2,587 yards)
- Coached 16 all-conference players at the FBS level (four at OSU, seven at Wisconsin, five at Utah State)
Woods’ experience comes at a critical time when the entire offense will likely be very young in 2018. WKU opens the season on August 31st against one of Woods’ former teams in the Wisconsin Badgers.