Tony Elliott will apparently have a coaching vacancy to fill this offseason, as Garett Tujague is reportedly leaving Charlottesville:
Former Virginia offensive coordinator Robert Anae has recently been named the new offensive coordinator for the Wolfpack. Anae was Tujague’s offensive line coach at BYU, where Tujague started for the unit that protected Ty Detmer during his 1990 Heisman season.
Tujague came to Charlottesville with Bronco Mendenhall from BYU and was one of the coaches retained when Elliott took over after Mendenhall’s resignation. He had also become the Hoos’ recruiting coordinator before this season.
Losing Tujague will be a blow on the recruiting trail, where offensive line recruiting had been one of UVA’s strong suits the past few cycles. On the field, Tujague had also built up a unit that was—charitably speaking—underwhelming when the Mendenhall staff first arrived in Charlottesville to one that produced a Rimington Trophy finalist in Olu Oluwatimi.
The offensive line suffered this season after a number of notable departures in the offseason, including Oluwatimi to Michigan and Bobby Haskins to USC, where he earned a starting role for the PAC-12 runners-up.
Elliott could go a number of directions for Tujague’s replacement. Below are some quick thoughts on possible candidates:
Internal Hire: Jay Guillermo
Guillermo has been an offensive graduate assistant at Virginia this season, coaching tight ends. He was an All-ACC center at Clemson, including starting for the Tigers’ 2016 national champion team. It would be a big gamble to give the role to someone who has never had an FBS full-time coaching gig before—he was the tight ends coach at Western Carolina and a graduate assistant at Georgia State previously—but would probably be the quickest way to maintain some internal consistency in the program.
Homecoming: Scott Wachenheim
Wachenheim was the offensive line coach for four seasons in Charlottesville under Mike London from 2011 to 2014 and recently stepped down as the head coach at VMI. Under Wachenheim, UVA rekindled some of its “O-Line U” reputation from the early 2000s, with guys like Morgan Moses, Oday Aboushi, and Luke Bowanko making their way to the pros. He has deep ties in Virginia including a stint at Liberty, as well as a season of NFL experience in Washington.
External Hire with Program Ties: Steed Lobotzke
Defensive coordinator John Rudzinski and defensive backs coach Curome Cox both came to Charlottesville from Air Force, and Tony Elliott may look back to that well one more time for Tujague’s replacement. Lobotzke has been the offensive line coach at Air Force since 2015 but has East Coast and ACC roots with time at Wake Forest under Jim Grobe—including as the Demon Deacons’ offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. His Air Force O-line was a semifinalist for this year’s Joe Moore Award, which goes to the best offensive line as a unit. Those credentials will likely make Lobotzke a man in demand if he chooses to leave Colorado Springs (where he played for Air Force in the early 1990s).