Energy, Enthusiasm, High Powered Offense – The Youngest Coach in D1 Football

by Keith Grabowski

Energy and enthusiasm perfectly describe Scotty Walden’s approach to coaching football. On October 28, 2020, Walden was named the head coach at Austin Peay, making him the youngest coach at the D1 level at 30 years old.  This isn’t his first head coaching job.  At 26, he led East Texas Baptist to a 7-3 season producing one of the top offenses in D3 football.

In 2017, Scotty Walden made an immediate impact on Texas Baptist and was quickly identified as one of the brightest and youngest offensive minds in the country.  At the time, current Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said this of Walden:

“I have had the opportunity to get to know Scotty Walden over the last few years, and I couldn’t be more impressed with his knowledge of the game and his work ethic. He has accomplished so much as a football coach at such a young age that it is truly amazing. Scotty is as smart of a football mind as there is in the country.”

As the youngest college coach in America at 26, Walden led the ETBU Tigers to a 7-3 record.  Prior to ETBU, at 23, Walden’s first year as a coach and offensive coordinator, his offense at Sul Ross State led all of NCAA averaging 581.9 yards per game and 48.8 points per game.  Walden’s offense rewrote the record book in his time as offensive coordinator and head coach.  The highlights are below.

NCAA Rankings

  • Total Passing Offense (ETBU) – 2014; 1st (368.1 pg)
  • Total Offense (ETBU) – 2014; 2nd (566.1)
  • Scoring Offense (ETBU) – 2014; 11th (42.3 ppg)
  • Total Offense (SRSU) – 2012; 1st (all divisions – 581.9 ypg)
  • Scoring Offense (SRSU) – 2012; 3rd (48.8 ppg)
  • Passing Offense (SRSU) – 2012; 11th (333)

A coach doesn’t put up numbers like that and go unnoticed.  This quickly led to an opportunity at the FBS level with Southern Miss. Walden joined the Coach and Coordinator Podcast prior to taking a job at the FBS level. Listen here. He began as the receivers coach, was promoted to co-offensive coordinator in his third year, and after one game in 2020, was promoted to interim head coach, and on October 28, 2020 was named head coach at Austin Peay.

It was exciting to watch Walden who was a fireball of enthusiasm for the Golden Eagles in his first game against La Tech. While the Eagles lost this one late, it was clear the team responded to Walden’s leadership.

Expect the Governor’s offense to excel under Walden.  One play he loves as part of his offense is the mesh.  This was a play that scored for Southern Miss in Walden’s first game at the helm. 

Though Walden never loved the mesh initially, it definitely is a play that he loves now. The main reason is that it can give an offense both man answers and zone answers. As teams prepare to stop RPO with man answers, Mesh becomes a very good answer with high percentage throws. He explains in this video (click on image).

Walden also likes a deeper version of this which he calls “Cross Country.” Walden believes in taking 10 shots per game, and that most likely those calls will result in 21 points.  Cross Country is one of those shot plays and he describes it here.

Walden shared his knowledge on “Mesh and Shallow Cross Variations” in his course on CoachTube. He covers every detail in his course.  

If you are currently looking for answers for teams that are stopping your RPO, but you want high percentage throws and the ability to use the concept if the defense jumps into zone, the Mesh and Shallow Cross are outstanding answers.

Walden brings his high powered offense, but more importantly, his contagious enthusiasm to Austin Peay.  Expect Walden to meet this new challenge with the energy he has brought in every step along his meteoric rise through the coaching ranks.