One more staff opening was filled today as Purdue essentially traded a Defensive coach for a dedicated Quarterbacks coach. As you know, Terry Malone was promoted to offensive coordinator to replace John Shoop, who served as both quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. Shoop was fired along with Rubin Carter and Greg Hudson. Carter served as defensive line coach, so Purdue had two coordinator positions and a position coach open.
Malone moving made it two position coaches and a coordinator position, and now one of the position coaching spots is gone with Tim Lester taking the Quarterbacks coach spot. This is an excellent move because Purdue desperately needed a dedicated QB coach. Shoop was handling both and he wasn't good at either. Now we get Malone to fix the ailing offense while Lester gets to de-Shoop two promising young quarterbacks.
Lester was most recently the offensive coordinator at Syracuse. On the surface, their 4-8 season after a 3-0 start was Purdue-esque and it doesn't look good, but once you delve a little deeper you can see Lester was playing with his hands tied. In 2013 and 2014 he was QB coach and had success in molding Terrel Hunt to a promising 2013 season. That year, Hunt's first as a starter, he threw for 1,638 yards and 10 TDs against 8 INTs. He also ran for 500 yards and 7 scores as Syracuse went 7-6 and won the Texas Bowl.
Hunt improved greatly as the season went on and he threw for 983 yards (but only 1 TD) in 2014 before missing the final seven games with an injury. Of note, however, is that he led Syracuse to a 40-3 win over the same Central Michigan team that blew out Purdue by 21 at home. He also had another 292 yards rushing and 6 TDs. Once Hunt went down Syracuse's offense went with him. Hunt never played again in 2014, and he lasted only a handful of plays this year before getting injured yet again.
So, in his only season as an offensive coordinator, Lester had to do without his top quarterback. It got worse when backup Eric Dungey also got hurt, leaving them with walk-on Zack Mahoney. Mahoney started four games after beginning the year as the 5th stringer. For being so far down on the depth chart Mahoney wasn't bad. He threw for 535 yards and 7 TDs against just two interceptions while rushing for 151 yards and two scores. Both rushing TDs came in his collegiate debut against LSU.
Here is what Syracuse.com had to say about Lester:
Lester was known for an analytic approach and was meticulous about creating metrics to chart his players' success and improvement.
At Syracuse, Lester helped shepherd first-year quarterback Terrel Hunt to a bowl game during his only full season as a quarterback coach. He took over SU's struggling offense during the middle of his second season at SU and overhauled the offense during his third year, putting in a system Lester was comfortable with.
His efforts resulted in some improvements during Year 3. The Orange scored 10 points more per game under Lester's offense but improved just marginally in yards per play and actually averaged 10 fewer yards per game. Those efforts weren't enough to save the coaching staff, as the Orange went 4-8 and fired Shafer during the week leading up to the season's final game.
This isn't the best hire, but really, who else were we going to get? Lester sounds promising and, let's face it, he won't last long anyway if Hazell doesn't make it through 2016. If anything, he gives Purdue an emergency OC to try out if Hazell gets fired midseason and Malone gets promoted.
It is nice to have a QB coach and a semi-promising offensive braintrust to work with now. Lester was also very good as a player at Western Michigan. Lester was a four-year starter at quarterback at Western Michigan from 1996 to 1999. He finished his career ranked fourth in FBS history in passing yards (11,299) and sixth in touchdown passes (89). Lester set 17 school passing records and eight Mid-American Conference records. He was the MAC Freshman of the Year in 1996 and a second team all-conference honoree his junior and senior seasons. Following his senior season, in which he threw for 3,639 yards and 34 touchdowns, Lester participated in the 1999 Blue-Gray Classic. Hazell was the wide receivers coach at Western Michigan during Lester's freshman season.