Mike Denbrock Season 2023
Mike Denbrock, who has coached some of the top offenses in college football during his career, serves as LSU’s offensive coordinator and tight ends coach. Denbrock joined the Tigers in January of 2022 reuniting the coaches who have now spent 15 years together, winning 125 games during that span.
Denbrock served on Kelly’s Grand Valley State staff for seven years (1992-98) and then followed that with seven years (2010-16) at Notre Dame.
In his first year at LSU, Denbrock’s offense featured one of the nation’s most dynamic quarterbacks in Jayden Daniels. Daniels, in his first year with the Tigers after transferring from Arizona State, set LSU records for a quarterback in rushing yards (885) and TDs (11) and his 3,798 yards of total ranks second in school history only Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow.
Daniels was one of only two quarterbacks nationally to rush for 800-plus yards and pass for 2,500-yards or more.
Daniels guided an offense that racked up 6,344 total yards – the second-highest total in school history.
As a unit, the Tigers put together one of the best all-around seasons in school history, averaging 34.5 points per game and 453.1 total yards (183.9 rushing, 269.3 passing). LSU also set the school record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 39, breaking the previous mark of 37 set in 2013.
For the first time in school history, LSU started true freshmen (Will Campbell and Emery Jones) at offensive tackle. The offense also featured one of the most productive tight ends in school history in true freshman Mason Taylor, who caught 38 passes for 414 yards and 3 TDs.
Sophomore Malik Nabers established himself as one of the nation’s top receivers, catching 72 passes for 1,017 yards and three TDs. It was 12th 1,000-yard receiving season in LSU history.
Denbrock arrived at LSU from Cincinnati, where he served as offensive coordinator for five years. During that span, Cincinnati won 48 games, made four bowl appearances, including the 2021 CFP Semifinals, and claimed a pair of American Athletic Conference Championships.
He also developed Desmond Ridder, the two-time AAC Offensive Player of the Year, into one of the top quarterbacks in college football history. In four years, Ridder accounted for over 12,000 yards and 116 TDs and ranks third all-time in college football history with 44 wins as a starting quarterback. Ridder was selected in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Falcons.
A veteran of 30-plus years in the coaching profession, Denbrock has worked as both an offensive and defensive coordinator and coached every position on the offensive side of the ball.
In 2021, he was named a semifinalist for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach, as Cincinnati went 13-0 in the regular season for the first time in school history, won its second straight American Athletic Conference Championship and advanced to the College Football Playoffs Semifinal at the Cotton Bowl.
Denbrock’s 2021 offense set school records for touchdowns (70) and points scored (516), and the Bearcats led the AAC and ranked among the nation’s leaders in points per game (36.9) and yards per play (6.7).
Along with Ridder, other 2021 offensive standouts for Cincinnati included all-conference running back Jerome Ford, who was joined on the All-AAC First Team by a trio of offensive linemen – Dylan O’Quinn, Lorenz Metz and Jake Renfro.
Ridder developed into the school’s all-time leader in yards and touchdown passes under Denbrock, finishing his Cincinnati career as the all-time leader in total touchdowns (116 TDs – 87 passing, 28 rushing, one receiving) and total offensive yards (12,427) in the AAC.
Ridder had one of the finest seasons ever by a Bearcat in 2021, passing for 3,334 yards and 30 touchdowns, while Ford proved to be one of the nation’s top running backs as he rushed for 1,319 yards and a school-record-tying 19 touchdowns.
In 2020, Denbrock had five offensive players collect All-AAC honors. The team ranked 19th in total offense, 18th in team passing efficiency and 15th in scoring offense.
Before going to Cincinnati, Denbrock worked under Kelly at Notre Dame from 2010-16 in a variety of roles. He coached tight ends (2010-11), outside receivers and was the passing game coordinator (2012-13), served as offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach (2014) and was the associate head coach and wide receivers coach (2015-16). During his second stint with the Fighting Irish, Denbrock coached in six bowl games, including the 2012 BCS National Championship.
Known as a dynamic recruiter, Denbrock is a strong offensive mind who had success as the Irish’s primary play caller for two seasons. The offense averaged 443 yards per game and close to seven yards per play over a 25-game span.
He acted as Notre Dame offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach in 2014, with the Irish scoring at least 27 points a school-record 11 times in 2014 and averaging 33.0 points and 444.6 yards per game.
He coached 2011 Mackey Award finalist and first-team All-American Tyler Eifert to one of the best seasons ever by a Notre Dame tight end. Eifert, a 2015 Pro Bowl selection who played eight seasons in the NFL with the Bengals and Jaguars, ranked second on the Irish with 63 receptions for 803 yards and five TDs in 2011. Those marks were Notre Dame single-season records for receptions and receiving yards by a tight end and led all FBS tight ends in 2011 in both receptions and receiving yards.
Denbrock mentored at Notre Dame in 2010 future two-time NFL Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph, who collected 28 receptions for 328 yards and three touchdowns in six games for the Irish before a hamstring injury ended his season. Rudolph has enjoyed an 11-season professional career with the Vikings and Giants.
Before his time at Notre Dame, Denbrock spent the 2009 season as the associate head coach at Indiana State, and he was the offensive line coach at Washington from 2005-08.
He coached offensive tackles and tight ends during his first stint at Notre Dame from 2002-04 – the Irish offense produced 1,000-yard rushers in 2002 (Ryan Grant) and 2003 (Julius Jones) – and he worked with offensive tackles and tight ends at Stanford in 2001, developing Kwame Harris (2003 first-round NFL Draft pick) into one of the top offensive tackles in the Pac-10.
Denbrock was an assistant under Kelly at Grand Valley State from 1992-98, coaching the quarterbacks (1992-95) before moving to the defensive side of the ball as coordinator and linebackers coach (1996-98).
Between 1992-95, Grand Valley State’s offense rated first in the Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference in both total and scoring offense each season. He guided a GVSU defensive unit that ranked among the nation’s top 30 in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense each season.
Denbrock’s first full-time coaching assignment came in 1990-91 as the tackles and tight ends coach at Illinois State after working as a graduate assistant at Michigan State for two years, working with quarterbacks and receivers in 1988 and offensive line in 1989.
He broke into coaching as a graduate assistant with the offensive tackles and tight ends from 1986-87 at his alma mater, Grand Valley State. Denbrock was a tight end at GVSU from 1982-85, earning a bachelor’s degree in communications in 1987.
Denbrock and his wife Dianne have a son, Chance.
Born: Jan. 29, 1964
Hometown: Homer, Mich.
Education: Grand Valley State (1987, Bachelor’s – Communications)
Year in Coaching: 32nd
1982-85: Grand Valley State (Tight End)
1986—87 Grand Valley State (Graduate Assistant)
1988-89 Michigan State (Graduate Assistant)
1990-91 Illinois State (Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends)
1992-98 Grand Valley State (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks/Wide Receivers, 1992-95; Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers, 1996-98)
1999-2000 Buffalo – Arena Football League (Defensive Coordinator/Offensive Line/Defensive Line)
2001 Stanford (Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends)
2002-04 Notre Dame (Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends)
2005-08 Washington (Offensive Line)
2009 Indiana State (Associate Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers)
2010-16 Notre Dame (Tight Ends, 2010-11; Outside Wide Receivers/Passing Game Coordinator, 2012-13; Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers, 2014; Associate Head Coach/Wide Receivers, 2015-16)
2017-21 Cincinnati (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, 2017; Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends, 2018-21)
2022-23 LSU (Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends)