The Kentucky Wildcats will get a crack at their former offensive coordinator to open the 2016 college football season.
According to Dan Wolken of USA Today Sports, Shannon Dawson expected to join Southern Miss staff as their next offensive coordinator. If this comes to pass, what a Week 1 storyline this would be for Kentucky.
Former Kentucky offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson is expected to become the new offensive coordinator at Southern Miss, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the school had not announced the move.
He will join the new Southern Miss staff under Jay Hopson. Previous coach Todd Monken left after a 9-5 season to become offensive coordinator of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Dawson came to UK in 2015 after being the offensive coordinator at West Virginia for three seasons. The Mountaineers ranked 11th in the nation in total offense while averaging 502.1 yards per game and ninth nationally in passing offense with 314.6 yards per game.
But Dawson didn't have full control of West Virginia's offense as head coach Dana Holgorsen has done most of the play-calling. That led to a lot of uncertainty as to whether Dawson could effectively call plays for the Kentucky in the SEC, and he never managed to show he could do that.
Despite having many key players return, Kentucky's offense took a step back in almost every major category in 2015, averaging 24.7 points a game compared to 29.2 the season before under Neal Brown. The Cats passed for 262 fewer yards than a season before and went from 14 touchdowns in the air in 2014 to 10 with 16 interceptions.
The offense saw a slight increase on the ground (114 total yards) from the season before with one additional rushing touchdown (22), but a big reason for that was UK's 415-yard, six-touchdown performance against a Charlotte team among the worst teams in the nation.
Take that away, and UK even has a big decrease in their rushing numbers, and all of this is why Dawson was let go this offseason and replaced with Eddie Gran.