John Donovan enters his third season on the Vanderbilt staff having coordinated two of the team's most productive offenses in the modern era.
Donovan, who assisted James Franklin at the University of Maryland prior to joining him at Vanderbilt, serves as offensive coordinator and running backs coach.
In 2013, the Commodores averaged 29.2 points per game during the regular season while racking up 366.7 yards per game
With senior Austyn Carta-Samuels at quarterback the Commodores improved in the passing game from a year ago averaging 233.7 yards per game while completing 66.4% of the team's passes. The passing game has already posted the most passing yards by a Vanderbilt team since 2005 and has the opportunity to be the most since 1983 when the Commodores passed for a school record 3,299 yards.
Donovan's work with the running backs is not to be overlooked. The New Jersey native used three running backs during the season with Jerron Seymour leading the way. Seymour enters the bowl game one touchdown shy of matching Zac Stacy's single-season school record of 14 rushing scores. Donovan has also successfully employed the running talents of quarterback Patton Robinette, who enters the game with six rushing TDs.
Joining Seymour in the backfield have been senior Wesley Tate and sophomore Brian Kimbrow. The trio have combined to run for 1,246 yards and score 19 TDs.
The offense has also improved on third down and is one of the nation's leaders on fourth down conversions going 21-for-27 during the season.
In 2012, Donovan's offense produced 390 points and 4,936 total yards, the highest season total witnessed at Vanderbilt since World War II.
Donovan's balanced attack also resulted in three of the finest individual seasons ever by Vanderbilt players. Zac Stacy became the team's most decorated running back ever, setting career records with 3,143 rushing yards and 30 rushing TDs. Stacy also became the first Commodore to ever produce back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Jordan Matthews set a team single-season record with 1,323 receiving yards. His 94-reception total also ranks No. 2 all-time among Commodores. Quarterback Jordan Rodgers also produced a career year, passing for 2,539 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Donovan's offense in 2012 also showed marked improvement in turnovers and third down efficiency.
Donovan also overlooks the play of Commodore running backs. Besides helping Stacy, Donovan mentored Wesley Tate and Brian Kimbrow in 2012. They combined for 789 yards and 11 touchdowns.
In 2011, Donovan's offense was the SEC's most improved. That year, Stacy set new single-season Vanderbilt records with 1,193 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. The 2011 unit scored 347 total points, the most by any Commodore team since the 1920s. The unit rushed for 13 more touchdowns than in 2010. The team's 339.1-yard total offense average was the highest since Jay Cutler guided the Commodore attack in the mid-2000s.
The offense also produced a substantial one-year increase in time of possession by amassing more first downs, enjoying higher third down and red-zone successes, and permitting less turnovers than the 2010 edition.
Franklin and Donovan were key offensive assistants under Ralph Friedgen at Maryland - Franklin serving as coordinator and Donovan working with running backs. In 2010, they helped the Terps to a 9-4 record and one of the nation's most impressive year-to-year turnarounds. That season, Maryland featured a powerful offensive attack that averaged 32.2 points. The unit was also efficient with just 14 turnovers.
Franklin and Donovan were key offensive assistants under Ralph Friedgen at Maryland - Franklin serving as coordinator and Donovan working with running backs. After Franklin accepted the Vanderbilt post in December 2010, Donovan called offensive plays during the Terrapins' impressive 51-20 Military Bowl victory. The resounding postseason win capped a 9-4 season for Maryland.
The 2010 Terrapins featured a powerful offensive attack that ranked second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring offense with a 32.2-point average. The unit was also efficient with just 14 turnovers, allowing Maryland to rank No. 6 nationally in turnover margin.
The 2010 campaign was Donovan's fourth at Maryland working with running backs. His top back, Da'Rel Scott, enjoyed a breakout campaign with 1,133 rushing yards and first team All-ACC honors in 2008.
Donovan mentored Maryland's quarterbacks in the 2006 and 2007 campaigns. In 2006, Donovan coached All-ACC quarterback Sam Hollenbach to his finest year as he threw for 2,371 yards and 15 touchdowns, and was named MVP of Maryland's Champs Sports Bowl victory over Purdue. Prior to taking over as running backs coach in 2005, Donovan served as Maryland's assistant recruiting coordinator under Friedgen, who hired Donovan as an offensive graduate assistant from 1998-2000 at Georgia Tech.
A 1997 graduate of Johns Hopkins, Donovan was a three-year starter at defensive back for the Blue Jays, earning 12 career interceptions.
Donovan earned a Bachelor's in Sociology from Johns Hopkins in 1997. He later earned a Master's in Economics from Georgia Tech.
Donovan and his wife, Stacey, are the parents of a son, John Patrick, 7; and two daughters: Cate, 5, and Shea, 3.
The Donovan File Personal Date of Birth - Sept. 11, 1974 Hometown - River Edge, N.J. Alma Mater - Johns Hopkins University Degrees - Bachelors, John Hopkins, 1997 Masters, economics, Georgia Tech Family - wife, Stacey; son, John Patrick, and daughters, Cate and Shea