The former Mississippi State head coach replaces Marcus Arroyo

Joe Moorhead is looking forward to less cowbell and more Autzen Stadium magic for the Ducks.

Oregon officially announced the former Mississippi State head coach as the program’s new offensive coordinator Tuesday.

Moorhead, 46, will replace Marcus Arroyo, who left the staff to become the head coach at UNLV after two seasons as coach Mario Cristobal’s playcaller.

“I’m extremely excited and very appreciative of coach Cristobal for this opportunity,” Moorhead said in a release. “I’m looking forward to helping build on the great success the program has already had and I can’t wait to experience game day in Autzen Stadium.”

Oregon is 13-1 at Autzen Stadium under Cristobal. The Ducks host defending FCS champion North Dakota State and defending Big Ten champion Ohio State to open the 2020 season.

Moorhead, who has already been photographed on the recruiting trail wearing Oregon gear, compiled a 14-12 overall record (7-9 in the SEC) in two seasons at Mississippi State, which competes in the same division as powerhouses Alabama, Auburn and reigning national champion LSU.

Prior to his brief stint leading the Bulldogs, Moorhead was the offensive coordinator at Penn State (2016-17) and an FCS head coach at Fordham (2012-2015).

The Nittany Lions went 21-5 with a Big Ten championship and two New Year’s Six bowl victories during Moorhead’s time at Penn State with Trace McSorley and quarterback and Saquan Barkley at running back.

“I’ve admired Joe’s offensive philosophy and ability as a playcaller from afar, and after meeting with him I was even more impressed,” Cristobal said in a release. “He is a great teacher and communicator, and instills confidence and belief in his players. His offenses have been explosive, balanced, multiple and creative.

“More importantly, he’s a great man, father and husband who our players and staff will enjoy working with.”

Oregon finished No. 5 in the final Associated Press poll of the 2019 season after a 12-2 finish capped off with a Pac-12 championship and Rose Bowl victory.

Moorhead has been the playcaller for four programs that have won a conference championship — Penn State (2016), Fordham (2014), Connecticut (2010) and Akron (2005).

However, Mississippi State ranked only 74th in scoring (27.6 per game), 109th in passing yards (179.5 per game) and 70th in total offense (400.1 yards per game) during a 6-7 finish in 2019.

Oregon finished 16th in scoring (35.4 points per game), 39th in total yards (433.1 per game), 41st in passing yards (258.2 ypg) and 51st in rushing yards (174.9 ypg) during Arroyo’s final season overseeing the offense.

“I think every time you have a vacancy, and that relates to everyone in an organization, you always have the opportunity to upgrade,” Cristobal said last week. “That’s not a dig or a shot at anybody because I think that our previous coordinator did a really nice job while he was here.

“But it’s just the nature of the industry. Every time you have a guy graduate and move on, you hope you’re recruiting well enough to replace him at the same level or better. You always want to get better.”

Starting this spring, Moorhead will oversee a quarterback competition to replace four-year starter Justin Herbert, who is currently auditioning for the NFL at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

The Ducks also lose four starters on the offensive line and one of his former pupils, Penn State graduate transfer wide receiver Juwan Johnson.

Redshirt freshman Tyler Shough, true freshman Cale Millen and 2020 recruits Jay Butterfield and Robby Ashford are the candidates Moorhead, a former quarterback at Fordham, will inherit to run his offense.

Mississippi State quarterback Garrett Shrader was one of three FBS freshman to throw for 1,000 yards and rush for 500 yards, despite playing in just 10 games.

Outland Trophy winner Penei Sewell returns at left tackle, along with the team’s top three rushers (CJ Verdell, Travis Dye, Cyrus Habibi-Likio) and top two wide receivers (Johnny Johnson, Jaylon Redd) from last season.

Moorhead’s offense led the SEC and finished tied for fourth among Power 5 programs with 16 200-yard rushing performances during his two years at Mississippi State. The Ducks were 10-0 the last two seasons when they rushed for at least 200 yards.

Three of the Bulldogs’ eight games in school history with 600 or more yards of offense came under Moorhead. Kylin Hill, who finished third in the conference with 1,350 yards last season, was the AP’s all-SEC first-team running back.

LSU offensive analyst Jorge Munoz, Los Angeles Rams assistant Jedd Fisch and Tulane offensive coordinator Will Hall were among the other reported candidates Cristobal considered for the position.

“The search for our next offensive coordinator was extensive and drew interest from coaches at all levels from around the country,” Cristobal said. “It was a thorough process, because we wanted to not only get the best coach for the University of Oregon, but also the best fit for our student-athletes and coaches. I’m fired up to welcome Joe, his wife Jennifer, daughter Kyra and sons Mason and Donovan, to Eugene and our football family.”

Follow Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @RGDuckFootball and email questions to rthorburn@registerguard.com. For more Oregon sports coverage, visit DuckSports.com.