Now that Dan Enos has been let go as offensive coordinator for the Miami Hurricanes, the search is now on for UM to find the programs next OC. Last time, I took a look at David Yost, and today, we’re going to explore Keith Heckendorf, who’s currently serving as offensive coordinator for the Arkansas State Red Wolves.
Besides names we've mentioned (Fedora, Rodriguez,T-Tech's David Yost), @davidlake3 offered couple of good suggestions (SMU's Rhett Lashlee, Arkansas State's Keith Heckendorf). Person with ties to UM program talked up Wake Forest's Warren Ruggiero (473 yds, 32.8 ppg this season)— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) December 27, 2019
2019 was Heckendorf’s first year at Arkansas State, after spending eight seasons with UNC as quarterbacks coach passing game coordinator. One of the biggest highlights with the Tar Heels was his developing of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who went on to become a first-round draft pick for the Chicago Bears.
While at UNC, Heckendorf learned under head coach Larry Fedora, learning from one of the better spread offense coaches in college football.
In 2015, UNC finished 15th in the college football polls, and the Tar Heels offense averaged 40,7 points per game. In the five years Heckendorf was QB coach there, North Carolina set school passing records in three of those seasons.
This year, Heckendorf joined the Red Wolves staff at Arkansas State as the offensive coordinator, and they were able to put up some impressive numbers. The Red Wolves averaged 439.3 yards per game (35th in the nation), 312.1 passing yards per game (13th in nation), and averaged 33.7 points per game.
Being the masterful QB guru that he is, Heckendorf turned Red Wolves quarterback Layne Hatcher into the Sun Belt Conference freshman of the year. Hatcher came into the season after their previous starting QB was lost to an injury, and Layne threw for 2,946 yards, 27 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and completed 65.8% of his passes. His receiver, Omar Bayless, led all college football receivers with 1,653 receiving yards, he also had 93 receptions and 17 touchdowns.
With the help of Heckendorf’s explosive offense, Arkansas State went 8-5 in 2019 and also defeated FIU in the Camellia Bowl. Also, Heckendorf was nominated for the Broyles Award this year, which is given to the nations top assistant coach.
As mentioned above, Heckendorf runs the spread offense, and focuses on an aggressive attack and high tempo on that side of the football, as Arkansas State averaged over 70 plays ran per game. He also likes his quarterback pushing the ball downfield and is a big fan of RP0.
In 2019, Hatcher averaged 9.5 yards per attempt, which was seventh in the nation in that category. While the Red Wolves QB threw it deep, Heckendorf’s use of short passing routes attributed to a higher completion percentage.
The Hurricanes desperately need someone whose had success coaching quarterbacks. Though he struggled near the end of 2019, Jarren Williams was just a redshirt freshman this year, and with the right coaching he could be the star we know he can be, same goes for N’Kosi Perry, Tate Martell and especially incoming freshman Tyler Van Dyke.
One of my favorite aspects of Heckendorf’s offense this past year was that he knew what their strengths were and used them, especially the wide receivers. We already mentioned Bayless, but the Red Wolves had two other receivers with over 60 receptions. Miami has the talent at the receiver position with guys like Dee Wiggins and Mark Pope, they just need the appropriate number of targets.
Arkansas State had 3 receivers this year with over 800 yards/60 receptions. 2 receivers with over 10 touchdowns.— Bring Alonzo Highsmith To Miami (@hurricanesmarsh) January 1, 2020
Miami had 1 receiver with 50 catches, 1 receiver with over 500 yards, 1 receiver with 5 touchdowns
A knock on Heckendorf’s 2019 offense at Arkansas State however, was their running game, which ranked 108th in the nation, averaging just 127.2 yards per game on the ground. Something that the Hurricanes need to do on offense in 2020 is run the ball better, with RB Cam’ron Harris and incoming freshman Don Chaney Jr. and Jaylen Knighton. This past year, Miami averaged only 118.8 rushing yards per game.
Another thing the Red Wolves offense struggled with in 2019 was utilizing their tight ends in the passing game, as TE on the roster recorded over 10 catches over the season. However, if Heckendorf was to have Brevin Jordan or Will Mallory on his offense, you could imagine that they’d be targeted more.
I will say that Heckendorf wouldn’t be my first or second choice, that would be either David Yost or Rhett Lashlee. However, Heck wouldn’t be a bad hire either. He’s had offensive success wherever he's gone, and he’ll be a hot topic in college football soon enough. Just like the other two OC’s mentioned, Heck fits the description of what Manny Diaz is trying to do with his offense, which is be fast and score lots of points.