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Realistic Offensive Coordinator Names for the Hurricanes

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Manny Diaz is in the market for a new play caller on offense, this decision will make or break his head coaching career

NCAA Football: Miami at Duke James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Enos was an epic failure as the offensive coordinator of the Miami Hurricanes. Our boy Marsh Thomas covered what he wants in an offense, and in that piece (read more here) detailed the analytics behind Enos failed run as OC. Now that the era of forgotten end zones has come to a close, lets deep dive into the situation and potential names of Miami play callers.

The Situation

You can’t ignore the situation at the University of Miami. Sure, the ‘Canes brass ponied up over a million dollars to land Dan Enos from the Alabama Crimson Tide, and his pro style offense failed in Coral Gables. The situation around college football is every coach and player saw first hand that Manny Diaz’s program is in disarray. The records speak for themselves, as in: 6-7, 130th in 3rd down conversions (let’s assume that last place is a Miami record), and the Independence Bowl shutout record.

Diaz’s tenure is already the thing of humor as Tate Martell’s time behind center looked pitiful, he brought back and was subsequently forced to suspend Jeff Thomas who is leaving early, and a slew of players are leaving early for the NFL Draft. The players don’t seem to want any part of staying on the sinking ship. Miami was a laughing stock around college football by losing to Georgia Tech, FIU, Duke and now Louisiana Tech. That takes nothing away from what those head coaches are doing at their programs, it’s just a matter of fact sort of thing.

The Athletic Director had to come on Twitter to defend his head coaching hire, and it’s only been 12 months. Manny looks confused, lost, and like this job was much harder than he gave Mark Richt credit for. The yachts, keggers, and tackling dummy antics seem so pathetic at 6-7.


The Five types of OC’s

Typically there are five types of offensive coordinator candidates floating around college football coaching circles. The AFCA Convention is in January down in Nashville, TN and I would suspect interviewing will take place at the convention as it often does. Miami isn’t going to be able to land a rising star (Sean Gleeson 2020) or a known entity (David Yost). The big names just aren’t going to climb over the rats who are jumping off the sinking ship.

So the ‘Canes and Manny Diaz should think to themselves they only have the chance to land three types of OC: the lower level diamond in the rough (also Sean Gleeson 2019), the hidden gem (Joe Brady with the Saints), and the resurrection tour (Rich Rodriguez, Kendal Briles).

Names I would scratch off my list are David Yost, Graham Harrell, Rich Rodriguez, and Sean Gleeson.

One name that I’m not quite sure how to define is Kevin Johns. Johns has bounced around Northwestern, Indiana, Western Michigan, Texas Tech and now Memphis. Is he a guy on the resurrection tour? I’m not even sure. He’s put up big offenses under other offensive minds like Kevin Wilson, Kliff Kingsbury and Mike Norvell. Those are control-freak types who have typically called their own plays if not had massive control over the scheme at hand. I detailed Johns before the Enos hire (read more here).

Lower level diamond in the rough

Tyler Roehl from North Dakota State has worked wonders with a freshman quarterback in Trey Lance. Lance has thrown 28 touchdowns with NOT A SINGLE INTERCEPTION, while completing 67% of his passes for the Bison. Oh and don’t forget, Lance has added 13 scores on the ground, too. NDSU is completely barn storming teams with four rushers breaking the 600 yard line and skill guys running for 7.2, 6.7, 4.9, and 7.7 yards per carry. Four players have caught five or more touchdowns through the air, too.

Austin King from Dayton is another FCS name to think about. Dayton finished 8-3 in 2019 and King’s quarterback, Jack Cook, completed 62.7% of his passes and threw 33 touchdowns with only five interceptions. Cook ran for another 12 touchdowns and Jake Chisolm ran for over 1,000 yards. Two receivers had double-digit receiving touchdown seasons under King.

Todd Hoffner, the head coach at Minnesota State (D2), is another option. Where Mike Gundy has succeeded others have been scared to go which is plucking his OC’s from lower levels. Gundy plucked Mike Yurcich from D2 Shippensburg. After a few seasons with the Cowboys, Yurcich went to Ohio State and is looking to win the national title in 2019. Gundy then returned to the lower levels and plucked Sean Gleeson from Princeton. How was Gleeson’s first year at the FBS level? Chuba Hubbard leads the FBS in rushing yards with over 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns.

What can Hoffner do? Minnesota State led all of D2 in scoring with 47.5 points per game. MSU’s two QB’s combined for 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, they had a 1600 yard receiver with 18 touchdowns, and a 1600 yard rusher with 31 touchdowns. You want points? Hoffner knows how to score.

The hidden gems

Frank Ponce isn’t the most hidden of gems around South Florida but most of the country probably has no idea who he is. Ponce is a former South Florida high school coach at Miami Northwestern, Central, Coral Reef, and Miami High. He then took a step up to coach wide receivers at FIU before heading to Appalachian State (2013-2018) before moving with Scott Satterfield to Louisville as strictly the quarterback coach.

Ponce could be the perfect fit as he’s a South Florida native, and someone that could want to return to calling plays again. I’m sure he would love to work with Tyler Van Dyke, Miami’s incoming quarterback. Ponce has coached the option, in the spread and tempo offenses in the shotgun and pistol at both App State and Louisville.

Look at the App State and Louisville quarterbacks under Ponce: Taylor Lamb was a four year starter who threw 90 touchdowns, ran for 23 more, and averaged 8 yards per pass attempt and 61% passing. They then replaced Lamb with Zac Thomas who threw 49 touchdowns in two seasons, ran for 17 more, and completed 62% of his passes. At Louisville, Malik Cunningham averaged 11.5 yards per passing attempt and 20 touchdowns with only five interceptions in year one.

Some hidden gems around the NFL, like Joe Brady? Former Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin is a low level assistant with the San Francisco 49ers. Austin has a New Jersey background and NFL playing experience to lure in recruits. Another NFL assistant with some name recognition who makes even more sense is the Kansas City Chiefs David Girardi. Girardi is from St. Pete, FL and is a former college assistant from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania where his offense set records.

Resurrection tour

Rhett Lashlee was a fast riser attached to Gus Malzahn through both being Gus’ quarterback coach when Malzahn was the head coach at Springdale High School in Arkansas. Lashlee then followed Malzahn to Arkansas to serve as a GA, before taking a job under Malzahn (when Gus was the OC) at Auburn. Lashlee and Gus reconnected at Arkansas State in 2012 and Lashlee followed Gus to Auburn in 2013. Lashlee disappeared to UConn for the 2017 season, and then wound up back in the southwest at his current stop- SMU.

What has Lashlee done in two years as the OC at SMU? In 2018, the Mustangs dropped from 12th in points per game to 54th. But in 2019 with Shane Buchele at quarterback, SMU skyrocketed to 7th in scoring with 41.8 points per game. Buchele’s yards per attempt rose from 6.2 in his last year at Texas to 8.0 in year one under Lashlee. Now, the quality of opponent also dropped by leaving the Big 12 for the AAC.

Lashlee could work wonders with Van Dyke at quarterback and talent like Cam’Ron Harris, and Don Cheney at running back. Wide receivers and tight ends like Brevin Jordan, Mike Harley, and Dee Wiggins could all see big time numbers gains under Lashelee in a spread option meets Air Raid offense.


Prediction

Hearing that Manny Diaz was looking to hire Mike Bobo, that’s a really bad sign. We can all hope that Manny Diaz makes the right decision but he probably won’t. The decisions I’ve put above would be cutting edge and modern. If Diaz really wants to score points and win football games something has to change and it’s probably his mindset.

Offensive Coordinator: Some schlub pro style, slow tempo OC that scores 20 points per game.