Blake Anderson, a 17-year coaching veteran at the NCAA FBS level who also coached in an NJCAA National Championship game, was named the Red Wolves’ 30th all-time head football coach on Dec. 19, 2013.
Anderson led A-State to five consecutive winning seasons, five straight bowl game appearances (2018 Arizona Bowl, 2017 Camellia Bowl, 2016 Cure Bowl, 2015 New Orleans Bowl and 2014 GoDaddy Bowl) and back-to-back Sun Belt Conference championships in 2015 and 2016 his initial five seasons at the helm. During that time, the Red Wolves also broke nine school records for average yards total offense (494.8 yards per game in 2017), first downs (322 in 2017), first downs passing (190 in 2017), passing yards (4,106 in 2017), passing touchdowns (38 in 2017), points scored (520 in 2015), touchdowns scored (69 in 2015), total offense (6,174 yards in 2014) and total plays (1,024 in 2014).
Out of 30 all-time head coaches, Anderson became just the fourth to win at least seven games in his first season at A-State. Now with 39 career victories leading the Red Wolves, he is the first head coach in A-State history to win more than 32 games his first five seasons at the school. Additionally, Anderson is just the third head coach at A-State to direct the program to 39 wins in 63 or fewer games -- Bennie Ellender also reached 39 victories in 63 games from 1963-69.
A-State won the league title for the second consecutive year under Anderson in 2016 with a 7-1 record, making it the only program in the nation at the time to win five conference titles over the previous six seasons. The Red Wolves won the 2015 league championship with an unblemished 8-0 record, in the process becoming the only SBC program to ever go 8-0 in league play during multiple seasons (2015 and 2011).
The Red Wolves have won at least seven games every season under Anderson, including a 9-victory campaign in 2015 and eight-win years in both 2016 and 2018. A-State has also compiled a 31-9 (.775 winning percentage) Sun Belt Conference record under Anderson’s watch.
Including six A-State wins in 2018, 35 of the Red Wolves’ 39 victories under Anderson have come by 10 or more points. The only exceptions were 29-20 and 27-20 victories this season over Tulsa and UNLV, respectively, and a 21-14 overtime win against Utah State in 2014 and a 27-26 victory over Georgia Southern in 2016.
Each of Anderson’s first four squads ranked among the top 45 teams in the nation in at least 23 combined offensive, defensive and special teams categories, including 2018 when the Red Wolves led the nation in punt return defense (-1.9 yards per return), 2016 when they ranked No. 1 in tackles for loss (9.6 per game) and 2015 when they ranked No. 1 in both defensive touchdowns (8) and passes intercepted (26).
Along the way, he saw 11 of his players earn All-Sun Belt recognition in 2014, followed by 16 in both 2015 and 2016, a school-record 18 in 2017 and, most recently, 17 in 2018. All five seasons combined, Anderson has coached 49 different players to 81 all-conference selections -- the most in the league over that span.
Anderson has led the Red Wolves to a 23-6 home record, which includes a 2014 overtime win over a Utah State team that won 10 games and received votes in the final Associated Press Top-25 Poll. A-State has also compiled a 14-6 Sun Belt road record, including a 35-3 victory over then-ranked No. 25 Troy in 2016 for the Red Wolves first road win over a top-25 team since joining the FBS in 1992.
Upon his arrival at A-State, Anderson assembled a well-respected coaching staff and began working to put together his first recruiting class in an abbreviated time period. Not only did he sign the Sun Belt’s No. 1 ranked class by Rivals.com, all six of his recruiting classes have ranked among the top three teams in the league by at least two of the major recruiting services.
Before joining A-State, Anderson worked on head coach Larry Fedora’s staff as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at both North Carolina and Southern Miss the previous four seasons. His dynamic offense helped lead the two programs to 34 victories, three bowl game appearances and two conference or divisional titles. Along the way, his potent offense was responsible for breaking both schools’ total offense records while also ranking among the most productive teams in the nation.
The Hubbard, Texas, native came to A-State after spending the previous two seasons as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at North Carolina, where he helped lead the Tar Heels to an Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division title in 2012 and the Belk Bowl in 2013. Under Anderson’s direction, North Carolina averaged 432.4 total yards per game in 2013 after setting the school record the previous year with 485.6 yards per contest. Prior to his arrival in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels had not averaged 400 yards in a season since 1993.
North Carolina’s offense posted more than 500 yards of total offense seven times during Anderson’s two seasons at the school, including a school-record 721 versus Old Dominion his last season, and scored 40 or more points in nine games. The Tar Heels averaged 44.2 points per game at Kenan Stadium (14 games) and 25.4 on the road (10 games) with Anderson as their offensive coordinator.
Anderson led a passing offense during the 2013 season ranked 23rd in the nation, averaging 286.3 yards per game. North Carolina posted 27 passing touchdowns, which were the second most in school history and just two behind the 29 recorded in 2012. The Tar Heels ranked among the top 44 teams in the nation in total offense, completion percentage, passing offense, red zone offense, scoring offense, passing efficiency, fourth down conversions and turnovers lost in 2013.
North Carolina’s offensive success was just a continuation from Anderson’s initial season, which saw the Tar Heels establish more than 35 school records. The Tar Heels finished eighth in the country in scoring, averaging 40.6 points per game, and were 14th nationally with 485.6 yards per game. Their passing attack was 26th nationally with 291.8 yards per contest, and the Tar Heels also rushed for 193.8 yards per game, their highest average since 1994.
Individuals excelled in Anderson’s system at every position. During his time at the school, six offensive players received All-ACC recognition, including First Team All-America selection Eric Ebron at tight end. As quarterbacks coach, Anderson tutored standouts Bryn Renner and Marquise Williams. Renner set the single-season school record for touchdowns passes with 28 in 2012, while Williams provided a spark to the UNC offense in 2013 with his mobility outside the pocket. Williams finished the regular season with 1,058 yards of total offense in the last three games alone, which was the most in any three-game stretch in Tar Heels history. He was also the first quarterback to lead North Carolina in rushing since 1968.
Anderson went to Chapel Hill after a record-setting run as Southern Miss’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The Golden Eagles set school records for total offense in each of Anderson’s last two years. He was part of a Southern Miss staff under Fedora that won a school-record 12 games in 2012, including the Conference USA championship over previously unbeaten Houston and the Hawaii Bowl over Nevada.
Anderson spent his first two seasons as USM’s quarterbacks coach and run game coordinator and developed Austin Davis into one of the nation’s top signal callers. Davis broke nearly every school record in an outstanding four-year career.
Under the eye of Anderson, the Golden Eagles were one of 14 teams in the country that averaged more than 200 yards per game in both rushing and passing in 2011. The Golden Eagles had nearly 6,500 yards of total offense and set a school record with 461.4 yards per game. In addition, USM was 15th nationally in scoring offense, 16th in total offense and 21st in rushing offense. Anderson’s offense posted 30-or-more points in 10 of 14 games in 2011, including a season-high 63 in a win over Navy.
In 2010, Southern Miss was 18th in total offense, 20th in rushing offense and 35th in passing offense. The Golden Eagles also averaged 36.9 points per game to rank 15th in the nation. That season, Anderson’s quarterbacks were among the most efficient in the nation with only eight interceptions thrown – including one by a wide receiver – to 24 touchdowns. Davis accounted for 10 of the team’s 28 rushing touchdowns, more than any other back.
In his first year in Hattiesburg in 2008, Anderson mentored then redshirt freshman and first-year starter Davis, who responded by having the best season ever for a freshman QB at the school, while also putting together one of the better years that any signal caller has had at the university.
Davis, who was the first freshman to start in his opening game since 1991, notched 15 school records, including six season marks – passing yards (3,128), completions (261), attempts (454), total offense (3,636) and touchdowns responsible for (30).
Anderson came to Southern Miss after spending the 2007 campaign at Louisiana-Lafayette as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The Ragin’ Cajuns posted the No. 6-rated rushing offense nationally (251.6) in 2007 and became the Sun Belt’s first ever 3,000-yard rushing team (3,019).
Anderson, who was in private business from 2004-06, previously worked at Middle Tennessee, where he helped direct an offensive unit as co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach from 2002-04.
He spent three seasons at New Mexico before landing at MTSU. He served as the wide receivers coach in 2001 and running backs coach from 1999-2000. The UNM rushing attack was responsible for a major share of the Lobo offense in 2000. The Lobos averaged 148 yards per game on the ground, which accounted for 56 percent of the team’s total offense.
Anderson worked at Trinity Valley Community College (1995-98) before joining the Division I FBS ranks at New Mexico. In 1998, he was the offensive coordinator and the Cardinals went 7-3. He helped lead the Cardinals to the 1997 NJCAA National Championship.
He began his coaching career at Eastern New Mexico in 1992 (graduate assistant) and 1993 (full-time), where he tutored the wide receivers. He then moved on to Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas, to coach wide receivers in 1994. HPU won the Texas IAA conference title.
A two-year letterwinner at wide receiver for Sam Houston State from 1989-91, Anderson was named Southland Conference All-Academic as a senior. He also played for two years as a quarterback and receiver at Baylor (1987-89) before transferring. Anderson graduated with his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Sam Houston State in 1992. He also attained his master’s degree in sports administration from Eastern New Mexico in 1994. Anderson and his wife Wendy have one daughter, Callie, and two sons, Coleton and Cason.