Wittenberg began the spring football practice season Friday without 32 seniors who helped lead the Tigers to their second straight North Coast Athletic Conference championship last season and without the offensive coordinator who guided some of the best offenses in school history.
Andy Mitchel left after eight seasons to become offensive coordinator at Marian University in Indianapolis. His successor is Kevin Hoyng, a record-setting quarterback at Dayton who spent the last five seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater.
“I’m definitely very excited,” Hoyng said. “When the job opened up, it was something that intrigued me. The offense has been very successful the last couple of years, and Wittenberg has been a championship program. It’s a great opportunity.”
Hoyng is a 2007 UD graduate who holds school records for total yards (9,528), completions (530), passing yards (8,862), and touchdown passes (59). He was Dayton’s starting quarterback in victories over Wittenberg in 2005 and 2006.
A Coldwater, Ohio, native, Hoyng coached tight ends for three seasons with the Flyers and then quarterbacks the last two seasons.
Wittenberg coach Joe Fincham doesn’t expect the offense to have a different look with Hoyng taking the reins.
“I think you’ll see a similar style to what we’ve run here for a while,” Fincham said. “I don’t think we’re going to change much. Dayton’s been in the spread for a while. There’s a lot of similarities.”
Said Hoyng, “We’ll try to get our playmakers the ball as many different ways as possible. We’re going to be physical in the run game. We’re going to spread the ball around, have some up-tempo.”
What will be different is the starting lineup. Wittenberg loses the NCAC Offensive Player of the Year, quarterback Reed Florence, a 1,000-yard receiver in Brendon Cunningham and many of the other key pieces from a team that finished 10-2.
Fincham said Zack Jenkins, a 6-foot-3 quarterback from Frostproof, Fla., is the front-runner to take over for Florence at quarterback. Jenkins attempted 11 passes last season as a sophomore.
“He’s a dual-threat guy,” Hoyng said. “He has a good arm. He can throw the ball. I’m really impressed with his legs and speed.”
Wittenberg will be experienced at running back. Sean Gary and Jimmy Dehnke combined to rush for more than 1,500 yards last fall as sophomores.
“I found out watching the film just good those two are,” Hoyng said. “Seeing them live and in person, I was really impressed. They’ve definitely showed some explosion. I’m excited about those two guys coming back and being the leaders of the offense.”