WKU Football Announces Addition of Zach Kittley as OC/QB Coach
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU Football has announced the hiring of Zach Kittley as the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. One of the great young minds in the game, Kittley helped coach NFL MVP and Super Bowl Champion Patrick Mahomes for three years at Texas Tech, and most recently turned Houston Baptist into one of the most prolific passing offenses in college football.
In an abridged 2020 season, the success of HBU’s Air Raid passing offense made headlines throughout the country. In only four games, senior quarterback Bailey Zappe completed 141-of-215 passes (65.6%) for 1,833 yards, with 15 touchdowns and one interception. A trio of wide receivers – Jerreth Sterns, Josh Sterns and Ben Ratzlaff – combined to produce 89 receptions for 1,256 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Zappe and the Huskies put up 480 pass yards and three scores at North Texas, 406 and five scores at LA Tech, and 380 and three scores at Eastern Kentucky, but the most notable performance was against Kittley’s former school.
At Texas Tech, Zappe completed 30-of-49 passes for 567 yards with four touchdowns, as the Huskies dropped a 35-33 heartbreaker even though they entered the game as 40-point underdogs. The 567 pass yards were the most ever for an FCS player against an FBS defense. At 458.3 yards per game, Zappe’s average ranks 85.7 yards above the leading FBS passer (Dillon Gabriel of UCF – 372.6 yards per game) in 2020.
In 2019, HBU had one of the most explosive offenses in the FCS, ranking second in the Southland Conference and 12th nationally in total offense with 426.6 yards per game and third nationally in passing offense with 334.3 yards per game. As a junior, Zappe led the nation in completions and attempts per game, ranked second in passing yards per game and led the nation with 35 touchdown passes during the regular season.
In 2018 under Kittley’s guidance, the Huskies’ offense averaged 27.4 points and 394.3 yards per game. As a sophomore, Zappe earned All-Southland Conference Honorable Mention, tying for the league lead with 23 touchdown passes and breaking the school career and single-season records for completions, attempts, yards and touchdowns. Receiver Jerreth Sterns also earned All-Conference honors, leading the league with 68 receptions.
Kittley spent three seasons as a graduate assistant coach and assistant quarterbacks coach at Texas Tech under head coach Kliff Kingsbury. He was an offensive intern for the Red Raiders in 2014 and a student assistant coach in 2013. Texas Tech finished among the top 10 nationally in passing offense and averaged more than 30 points per game each of his last three seasons, leading the nation in total offense and passing offense and ranking fifth in scoring offense in 2016. The Red Raiders were second nationally in total offense and scoring offense in 2015.
Two of Kittley’s proteges were selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. Patrick Mahomes was one the top quarterbacks in Red Raider history, and was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs with the 10th overall pick. And Davis Webb, who finished his collegiate career at Cal, was drafted with the 87th pick overall by the New York Giants.
A native of Lubbock, Texas, Kittley originally went to Abilene Christian to play basketball, but earned a bachelor of arts in history from Texas Tech in 2014, then a Master of Science in interdisciplinary studies in 2016. He is the son of Texas Tech head track and field coach Wes Kittley, who is entering his 21st season at the helm of the nationally-ranked program.
Kittley and his wife, Emily, were married in February of 2017 and their son, Knox, is almost two years old.
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury quote: “I’m really excited for Zach and this opportunity at Western Kentucky. He is incredibly sharp and is definitely one of the brightest young minds in the game. That was obvious early at Texas Tech and he did a tremendous job for us; I know he had a big impact on Patrick Mahomes and was critical to his development. His dad is a legend in Lubbock because of the success he has had coaching Track & Field at Tech. I know Zach was a really good hoops player, but I’m glad he chose to coach football because the game is better with sharp, young coaches like him in it.”
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes quote: “I’m excited for Zach and his family to get this opportunity at Western Kentucky. He’s a talented young coach who certainly made an impact on my career while we were together at Texas Tech. I appreciate the time he invested in me on and off the field, and I know he will do the same for the student-athletes at WKU. I’m looking forward to watching him continue his coaching career and wish him the best of luck.”