December 6, 2017
By: Bob Carskadon
On Wednesday morning, Mississippi State football announced the hiring of Andrew Breiner as the pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach for new head coach Joe Moorhead. Breiner and Moorhead have a long history together, having worked together initially for three years at UConn, then from 2012-15 at Fordham with Moorhead as the head coach and Breiner as his offensive coordinator.
Breiner spent the last two seasons as the head coach at Fordham after Moorhead was named the offensive coordinator at Penn State, and now the two will be reunited in Starkville. HailStateBEAT reporter Bob Carskadon caught up with Breiner to talk about Moorhead, MSU and the new job. The full transcript of the question and answer session can be found below.
Bob Carskadon: You’ve worked with Moorhead a lot in the past, so I feel like it’s safe to say you wouldn’t join his staff at Mississippi State if you didn’t think good things were possible. What makes him a good head coach?
Andrew Breiner: I mean, I’ve seen with my own two eyes the way he motivates the young men on the team, the way he rallies them together, and the way he instills confidence because of the way that things are done and that they know they’re prepared going into each and every game. The Xs and Os – Joe’s reputation is out there as an offensive mind, but what really makes him a great coach is his ability to lead by motivating, inspiring, rallying together and instilling confidence.
BC: You mention those Xs and Os – you were a part of creating that innovative offense years ago at UConn and Fordham. In those early days, what was the process like as far as tweaking, experimenting and learning? What kind of advancements have you made since then?
AB: It was a long process. I still remember when Joe got to UConn. We got there, I think, the same day, and his family was still in Akron and I was single at the time, so we were spending long hours just putting install tapes together and playbooks together and learning the base of it then. We got to Fordham and had a chance with Joe as the head coach having the ultimate say to make some modifications and changes. What we’ve always done is spend time after each season watching offenses and taking ideas that we think fit. It’s been a consistent evolution. No two years are going to be the exact same, but it’s never going to depart too far from its foundation either.
BC: For your role as pass game coordinator, what are some of the necessary skills and traits for quarterbacks and receivers in this style of passing game?
AB: The quarterback position, we’re looking for a guy that is equally a threat as a passer and also as an athlete with the ball in his hands. Decision making is No. 1 for the quarterback position, guys that we can teach the system to and have them make the right decision on a consistent basis. The wide receiver position, we have a few different positions and they all have their kind of unique skillset, but we’re looking for guys that, obviously, are fast, that have the ability to change direction and run precise routes, and most importantly make plays when the ball is in the air.
BC: Along those lines, I know you haven’t even had a practice or anything at MSU, but from what you’re aware of and have been able to learn, what do you see in the roster you have and what possibilities do you see with some of the individual talent?
AB: At this point, the only position I have any familiarity with is the quarterbacks. I have not gotten a chance to really dive into the receivers yet. I’ve watched a little bit of Nick [Fitzgerald’s] tape and think he’s a guy that has the skillset that we’re looking for. I look forward to working with him and developing him in his senior year. I actually just happened to be watching the Egg Bowl and watched KT [Keytaon Thompson] in that game, who you can see has the skills and the tools that are very similar to the quarterbacks we’ve had in this offense who have had a lot of success.
Obviously, both guys are going to have to go through a learning curve and we’ll work incredibly hard with them to get them up to speed. Once you get that done, you can let their physical talents shine through. It’s just a matter of getting them comfortable within the system.