North Texas coach Seth Littrell completed his coaching staff on Monday with the additions of Jarred Holley, Matt Passwaters and Blake Joseph.
Holley will coach UNT’s cornerbacks after spending last season as the safeties coach at Albany. Passwaters was an offensive quality control assistant at Hawaii in 2020, while Joseph spent last season as the head coach at Magnolia West.
The addition of the trio completes a dramatic overhaul of UNT’s staff since the end of a 4-6 campaign that culminated with the Mean Green’s loss to Appalachian State in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. UNT parted ways with four assistant coaches since its loss to App State.
Littrell previously hired former SMU coach Phil Bennett as his new defensive coordinator and longtime college assistant Jim Gush as his linebackers coach.
Littrell also promoted Mike Bloesch. UNT’s co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach will serve as the team’s play-caller next season.
Holley was a four-year starter as a defensive back at Pittsburgh and a two-time All-Big East selection. He played for Bennett at Pitt.
“He has familiarity and experience with coach Bennett’s scheme, having played for him at Pitt, and also spending time on staff in Tempe alongside him as well, which is only going to enhance our transition defensively,” Littrell said in a statement announcing the hires.
Passwaters played at New Mexico State and later worked as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater.
“Coach Passwaters is going to bring great energy to our defensive staff,” Littrell said.
The additions of Passwaters, Joseph and Holley complete an overhaul of UNT’s defensive coaching staff.
Littrell turned to Bennett, who was on the staff at Oklahoma during his playing career, to turn around a unit that allowed 42.8 points per game last season. Bennett has traditionally run a 4-2-5 scheme and was expected to bring in his own assistants to run his system.
UNT is hoping the addition of Bennett will provide stability to a defense that has constantly changed leadership in Littrell’s five seasons at the school. Troy Reffett and Mike Ekeler shared coordinator duties in Littrell’s debut season in 2016 before Reffett took over as the sole coordinator the following year.
Reffett continued in his role as UNT’s defensive coordinator for the next three seasons, including the 2018 campaign when Jeff Koonz served as a co-coordinator.
Clint Bowen took over as UNT’s defensive coordinator last season but lasted just one year. Littrell announced after the season that he and Bowen had mutually agreed to part ways.
Joseph fills the quarterbacks coaching spot that was left vacant last season after Tate Wallis resigned before UNT’s season opener. Littrell coached UNT’s quarterbacks last season with the help of graduate assistants Dane Evans and Quinn Shanbour.
Joseph played for Houston from 2005-08 and completed his career at Sam Houston State.
Jason Bean and Austin Aune split time at quarterback in 2020. Bean has since entered the NCAA transfer portal and is exploring his options to continue his career at another school.
Littrell said of Joseph: “He’s done a great job developing his quarterbacks over the years, and certainly has great playing experience to share with our talented quarterback room.”
UNT thrived offensively, despite an unconventional quarterback situation with Aune and Bean splitting time. The Mean Green averaged 34.4 points per game last season.
UNT’s new-look staff will tackle a challenging schedule that includes nonconference games at Missouri and SMU. The Mean Green will open the season with a home game against Northwestern State on Sept. 4.