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By The Numbers: Sonny Dykes

Unless you’ve been hanging out in a Cold War era nuclear bunker then you’ve probably heard that Joker Phillips will no longer be retained as Kentucky’s football coach at the conclusion of the season.  Because of this we now enter one of the most entertaining phases of athletics at any level, a coaching search.  Yes fire up the plane tracker and talk to your horse-farm Realtor buddy because paranoia and rumors will be running rampant over the next few weeks.  While the decision won’t likely come until after the season’s conclusion, there are multiple candidates who are believed to be favorites of Athletic Director, Mitch Barnhart.  One of these favorites happens to be Louisiana Tech’s Sonny Dykes, son of Texas Tech coaching legend William “Spike” Dykes.  He has many characteristics that are highly valued by the administration at Kentucky; character, pedigree, and connections to the University to name a few.  These are undoubtedly important things when considering a coach, but results and the numbers you put up alongside them are what truly matter.  So to give some insight on just how Dykes has performed in his three seasons as Louisiana Tech’s head man I went back and examined some key statistics to evaluate his successes and failures.

The most well known trait about Dykes at this point would be the spectacularly efficient “Air-Raid” inspired offense that he runs.  Through his team’s 9 games the Bulldogs are averaging an unreal 52.4 points per game (2nd nationally) and are winning by an average margin of 18.3 points per game (11th nationally).  This is due to one of the best quarterback/wide-receiver combos in the nation; Colby Cameron and Quinton Patton. In typical Air-Raid fashion Cameron has completed 71% of his passes for 2946 yards and has also thrown for 24 touchdowns. Eleven of those touchdowns went to Patton, who in addition to his touchdowns, has precisely 1000 receiving yards and 75 receptions.  These two are certainly the cornerstones for the Bulldog offense, but many more players and coaches are involved in the continued growth of the program.  While they all can’t be listed in the interest of time, here are some of the most vital offensive stats (and their progression) over the tenure of Dykes and his staff.

(*2012 through 9 games)

The most encouraging thing about Dykes’ offense?  It has improved in nearly every category during his three season tenure (the passing game improving every year).  The passing increase is a trait that Kentucky fans will admire given the obsession with the Air Raid of the late 90’s.  Offensively speaking, this hire would be perfect for Kentucky since two Quarterbacks will return in 2013 that have tons of potential in Maxwell Smith and Patrick Towles.  Pair these two with Dykes’ offense and we could see some magic reminiscent of the early Mumme years.


If there is a criticism about Dykes’ coaching acumen it would be his defense, or lack thereof.  So far this season his Bulldogs are surrendering 34.1 points per game which ranks them 102nd nationally in a tie with Memphis.  While this number is largely useless without its offensive counterpart it’s concerning knowing that this was done against a strength of schedule ranked 128th by Jeff Sagarin.  This is troubling, but it hasn’t always been this way during his tenure.  Last season Louisiana Tech went on a 7 game winning streak largely due to their defense, surrendering an average of 14.8 points per game during that stretch.  The success of their defense is largely based off turnovers, that creates a high risk/high reward scenario which Kentucky fans may not be in favor of.  This is the sort of “bend don’t break” defense that sent former defensive coordinator, Mike Archer, to N.C. State.  Defensively, Dykes has certainly not been among the nation’s elite, but regardless, here are some of the key numbers over his tenure.

Certainly not elite or a model of consistency, but there is the ability to force opponent turnovers and stop the run which is highly prevalent in the SEC.  Overall, something would have to change defensively if Dykes were to become the head coach at UK, whether that be a change in scheme or a new defensive coordinator.

Sonny Dykes will certainly get a long and hard (hey-ooohh) look from the Kentucky administration to be the next head coach.  His style of play is something that Kentucky fans have long admired and results on the field have been outstanding in his short time as a head coach.  Perhaps the only stats that matter in the examination of Dykes are .417, .615, and .889  (Dykes’ winning percentage in his three seasons).  Those were close to being even better as well; with brutally close losses coming to Texas A&M, TCU, Houston, Mississippi State, and Southern Miss (all within 7 points).  Dykes would be a great hire for Kentucky; his past numbers are excellent, he has connections to the University, and he would bring excitement back to Kentucky Football.  Don’t discount the entertainment aspect out of this equation either, tons of points scored would inspire many to come back to Commonwealth and be entertained against the nation’s elite.  Believe it or not, offense can win tons of games in the SEC (see 2012 Texas A&M who also runs a modified Air-Raid, and 2011 Arkansas), so this hire would not only give potential to win many games, but it’d be one entertaining product to watch as well.

Article written by Jonathan Schuette

58 Comments for By The Numbers: Sonny Dykes

  1. Chris
    8:04 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink


  2. fireant
    8:06 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    Dykes = Mumme
    No thanks

    I like the Neal Brown call.

  3. Ol Dad
    8:14 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    1 and 2- Really? We can’t get anybody better than Dykes. Our football program is not our basketball program. It’s not elite and no big name wants the job. Dykes is the best man that we can get. Neal Brown? Now that’s a good joke.

  4. I vote Sonny
    8:16 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    I am a Sonny fan. He would be a great hire given the circumstances we are in now.

  5. Biglaw Dawgin'
    8:16 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    Yeah, I’m not on the Dykes bandwagon either, what happened to shooting for a big name? Plus, we don’t need to go from one coach with a funny name straight to another. I thought of like 10 jokes just writing that first sentence. Dealing with the banners at games alone would be enough to pass on this guy.

    Buuut, if this guy really does bring a high-powered offense with him, that’s about all we could ask for here. I mean, let’s be real, UK isn’t Alabama and it would take, at minimum, 10 years to get there. So, if we’re going to be mediocre (God willing), the games might as well be exciting to watch.

  6. gary
    8:18 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    Love to have a great offense for sure. But this guy isn’t playing SEC teams.

  7. I Am Spartacus
    8:20 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    Not saying he offense wasn’t effective, but I also saw some real sucky defense in that video.

  8. BlueMike!
    8:21 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    7 – here’s some late breaking news for you… That team they’re playing in the video, Texas A&M, just happens to be an SEC team. Just sayin’…..

  9. Walter Sobchak
    8:21 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    Sonny Dykes is a pretty big name. Some people are just totally unrealistic. I even saw someone mention Les Miles on another site. I think Dykes would be at least a solid hire, and with our offensive weapons we could be a fun team to watch next year with his offense.

  10. Dee Sanders
    8:22 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    Mr. Schuette, this article clearly took alot of research. Well done. Highligt alot of important aspects of Dyke’s coaching ability

  11. gary
    8:23 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    8. your right just now saw the video my bad. lol

  12. thegr8one
    8:27 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    No love for the actual OC here?? Give Tony Franklin at least a mention!

  13. BlueMike
    8:29 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    Hmm, something got deleted, my response was to 6. But as 7 stated, there was some pretty bad defensive breakdowns in the video, SEC team or not.

  14. kramer
    8:29 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    Well not sure, take w/a grain of salt, my sister says she has it from a pretty reliable souce that Bobby Petrino was in Lexington today.She was sworn to secrecy though on where she heard it…as always GOS

  15. tdogg40330
    8:32 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    3) what is such a “joke” about Neal Brown?? He’s had alot of success as OC playing
    against some pretty good competition. Alot of big name coaches start as some type
    of coordinator, not sayin Brown is ready to be a head coach …. but he might be.

  16. Randall Cobb
    8:34 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    Dykes is the guy we need. Look at what his done at a no name school in 3 years. Athletes will want to play for him and look at his team; they play hard till the end and play with passion.

  17. Joe
    8:36 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    * Indiana basketball – two freshman must sit out first 9 games. Peter Jurkin (hee, hee) and Hanner Mosquera-Perea.


  18. bcat
    8:36 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    I stopped reading at Spike Dykes.

  19. Ol Dad
    8:37 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    15- The joke is anyone that would take Brown over Dykes. That’s all. He would be a great coordinator for sure though

  20. RustyPipes
    8:41 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    15. Big12 not so much known for the defense being played there currently. I think the SEC has 4-5 teams in the top 10 in total def. Does the Big12 have 4 teams in the top 25? Everyone and their brother in that league is putting up 50+ points a game. No gracias on Neal Brown, no gracias on anymore coordinators with “ky state ties”, we’ve been there done that.

  21. OwensboroDavid
    8:41 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    Guys, Dykes’ offensive coordinator is Tony Franklin. I doubt Mitch lets Franklin come with Dykes back to UK because of the book Franklin wrote.

  22. tdogg40330
    8:42 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    19) I’m with ya, I’ll take Dykes as head coach and Brown as OC … I’d be more than
    happy with that

  23. I Am Spartacus
    8:45 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    8 -Thanks – didn’t need for you to point that out, I was well aware of the team that played the sucky defense I saw in that particular video. I love the SEC too, but that doesn’t mean an SEC team can’t have breakdowns sometimes.

  24. Hugh
    8:49 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    Jonathan Schuette you continue to post crap but that is what you are known for I guess. Tell your mom I said hi when you go upstairs from her basement aka your bedroom for a hot pocket.

  25. Old Pogue Bourbon
    8:49 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    Mike Leach has spawned some of the greatest offensive minds in College Football, most of which are being named on this site.

    He got screwed at Texas Tech, with the help of Craig James at ESPN, by an administration that didn’t want to pay him a longevity bonus.

    This is the same administration that has hired Bobby Knight, Pat Knight and Billy Gillispie. Let that soak in for a second before you pass judgement on Leach vs. Adam James.

    Leach taught Mumme the Air Raid offense, not the other way around. He has head coaching experience. His coaching tree is pretty impressive (Dykes, Dana Holgorsen at WVU, Art Briles at Baylor, Ruffin McNeill at East Carolina plus a bunch of offensive coordinators who are running his offense)

    He’s quirky, interesting, passionate and competitive. He would jump at the chance to get out of Pullman (PAC 12′s version of Starkville)

  26. Ridge Runner
    8:51 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink


    Kirby Smart needs to write his check and UK sign it.

  27. tdogg40330
    8:55 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    I’ll take Dykes, Leach, Smart, Petrino or Helfrich ….. lol

  28. Katdaddy
    8:56 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    He will suck here too just like anyother coach! Two years and he will have FOR SALE signs in his yard also. You guy kill me!

  29. Ol Dad
    8:57 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    26… Are you gonna repost that in every comment section on the board?

  30. blueboy
    8:59 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    I just saw Smart at the airport in baggage claims. He wouldn’t answer to why he is here.

  31. RustyPipes
    9:00 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    22. Wasnt that book more of a dig at CM Newton than UK though? I didnt read it, but I heard Tony Franklin was basically black balled by Newton for writing it. Tony Franklin grew up in Princeton KY next to my dad, great guy. And the air raid is exactly the type offense UK has to have when competing against more talented teams of the SEC. We cant play a pro-style offense here with the quality of players we have. If we cant stop power-house SEC teams, then we have to out score them, and Franklin’s offense does just that.

  32. tdogg40330
    9:00 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    29) who should it be then Mr smart ass??

  33. lush
    9:02 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    You can’t play offense and no defense. Find a coach that will play solid fundamental football for pete’s sake. Sometimes KY football fans are unknowledgable and pathetic. Not your fault you never had good football to watch so you will fall for this snake oil BS.

  34. really
    9:03 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    #26.. Hasn’t worked out to well for him at WSU has it? The only coach he is doing better than is Joker. The media is picking up on the way he treats his players.. Another Billy G waiting to happen with possible a couple more wins.

  35. Old Pogue Bourbon
    9:08 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    @30…nope, just this one. I’m done. I like Mike Leach. Everybody says he has baggage. I don’t know what that baggage is. He suffered through an unbelievable smear campaign by ESPN which was in reality a “little league” father’s sour grapes over his son’s playing time. He loves Lexington, openly campaigned for the job last year, and would bring the “basketball on grass” offense to UK.

    His competitiveness would propel us to legitimacy in the SEC. I’m not suggesting we could ever win the league…but it would be fun again. Unlike Mumme he believes in defense and strong fundamental football – something we desperately need at UK. He doesn’t cheat and as I said earlier (twice) he is interesting which would resonate with the fan base.

    In short, as Matt often says he would win the press conference.

    Lastly, with the skill position talent we have he would be immediately successful.

  36. Old Pogue Bourbon
    9:12 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    @35…there are constraints at WSU which pale in comparison to UK. Their culture of losing is deeper than ours (if that is possible). He inherited a program which was comparable to what Brooks inherited when he got here. In time, if he stays they will compete for the PAC 12 title. Texas Tech was a similar job and he is regarded as the most successful coach in their history after just 10 years.

  37. Katdaddy
    9:13 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    #33 It don’t matter, in two years you guys will be ready to send them packing.

  38. Rick
    9:14 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    #36 – you are exactly right. Bring on Mike Leach. Not gonna lie, I’ll be disappointed if that’s not who we hire. The man is successful, brings an entertaining offense to the table, and has what it takes to win in the SEC at UK — an “outside of the box” offense. Whereas Joker tried to go toe-to-toe with the big boys of the SEC, Leach tries to outsmart opponents who have more talent.

  39. MitchB's WallFlower
    9:14 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    It will be Belotti if he wants the job…I know

  40. MitchB's WallFlower
    9:16 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    ***Bellotti (spell chk.)

  41. redneck democrat
    9:21 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    Would love to see us get a great defensive mind.Smart? We dont need another air raid.Its time for some real big boy football.Defense would be easier for use to recruit.I dont care if we win 3 to nil as long as we win.Hope Mitch gets it right.

  42. Yab
    9:23 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    Mitch said in his letter that our goal is to play for SEC Championships in football. There isn’t anyone that believes that Dykes is capable of getting us to this point. If you can’t play defense, you’ll get curb stomped in the SEC.

  43. SonsOfAnarchy
    9:23 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    We are not Boise St playing some mediocre schedule and hope that we score 60 a game and hope they score a few points less. Go back to Woodsons senior season when even though we had a bad ass offense, we still managed to lose 5 games because our defense was very poor. Look what happened against Florida and Tennessee. We put up 40 some and 50 some points and still lost sure the offense will be fun to watch, but unless he brings in a good defensive cooridinator, none of the other stuff matters. Why put up 55 if the other team always ends up scoring 65. Mitch better open the checkbook for the HC, the OC and DC or else we will continue to skate by.

  44. Ole Ball Coach
    9:24 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    If Sonny doesn’t get a better defense, he ought to onside every kick.

  45. mashburnfan1
    9:27 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t care who it is…fact is it would be tough for them to be worse than what we have now for 2 more games. Anyone will at least give us hope again.

  46. mashburnfan1
    9:28 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    I do agree with others we would have to be at least good on defense but who is to say Dykes could not get a quality def coord to come in and run that side of the ball for him

  47. Ukfootballcaveman
    9:31 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    You are correct. We should go recruit the best players in the America to play at UK because we teach the fundamentals of offense and defense. I think we could immediately compete for a SEC crown. Here at Kentucky we are so ignorant to you football ways.

  48. redneck democrat
    9:32 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    A defensive minded head coach will bring what we have been missing.Namely a game plan,intensity and discpline and pride.Havent seen those under Joker ever.

  49. Yes
    10:19 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    Sonny Dykes would be a Great hire! Follow it up with a good DC and The Cats will be competing.

  50. Burt
    10:23 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    Isn’t Tony Franklin the OC at Lousiana Tech? is he allowed on UK’s campus?

  51. BlueTexan
    10:50 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    #51- Touche…but, who knows – Barnfart COULD forget. DITCH MITCH and hire a REAL AD professional…give him the freedom to recruit a real HC and hold him responsible for re-building the faith. Barnfart doesn’t have the experience/track-record and cajones to hit a ‘home-run’…

  52. Tom Seaver
    11:40 pm November 6, 2012 Permalink

    “Offense wins a ton of games in the SEC.” In the combined six seasons that Brooks and Mumme were above .500, our record in the SEC was 20-28. Our best record was 4-4. Looks more like offense can get you, at best, to .500 in the SEC. Going for an offense-first coach will do nothing but perpetuate the mediocrity that is UK football. If they want something better than .500, a defense first coach should be their focus.

  53. Marshal Cogburn
    2:12 am November 7, 2012 Permalink

    I figured Mike Leach would do well at WSU, and that he deserved a second chance. The Cougars are 2-7 right now, and after getting destroyed by Utah, Leach dumped all over his players to the press. He may yet turn things around, but he’s in a little danger of not getting the chance. You can get away with being a jerk when you’re winning, but not so much when you’re losing 49-6 to the Utes.

    He’s not coming to UK. And I think that’s a good thing.

  54. bigbluelife
    5:56 am November 7, 2012 Permalink

    Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t I hear somewhere that Sonny excels with kids who are SEC type players that cannot academically qualify- IF that’s true how is he going to be successful here?

  55. Rich Brooks
    8:15 am November 7, 2012 Permalink

    Most of the names mentioned are coaches with all kind of offensive ability. However, while offense is very important in putting fans in the stands, we all know that if UK is going to take a step up from where my teams were then we have got to place some emphasis on defense. Not to the determent of offense. If some of you may remember my friend CM Newton has said publicly that he told Hal Mumme that he needed to go out, locate and hire the best defensive mind he could. Mumme did not do that. And you saw the results. While we had a few signature wins, most of our wins came against lesser teams and SEC teams that at the time were on the bottom. Same thing happened during my tenure.

  56. DerbyDemon
    8:48 am November 7, 2012 Permalink

    I want more than “entertaining.” Face it, until UK hires an actual coach on BOTH sides of the ball, ain’t a damn thing gonna’ change. I want someone that can actually bring together a DEFENSE.

  57. Big Whoop
    9:54 am November 7, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t have a problem with either Brown or Dykes as long as they are “forced” to hire a good DC.