Now that Dan Enos has been let go as offensive coordinator for the Miami Hurricanes, the search is on for UM to find the programs next OC. We’ve already previewed David Yost and Keith Heckendorf, now it’s time to take a look at SMU’s Rhett Lashlee.
If you were to ask Miami fans who they’d choose for the Canes next offensive coordinator, I’d say at least half of them would want Lashlee. He’s been a hot name in the world of college football assistant coaches for several years now, so UM fans have heard Lashlee many times.
Prior to becoming OC at SMU in 2018, Lashlee was at UCONN for a year, at Auburn for four years, and also spent time at Arkansas State and Samford before.
Before 2017, Lashlee had spent all but one year coaching alongside Gus Malzahn. Gus was also Lashlee’s head coach in high school back in Arkansas. As Auburn’s offensive coordinator and QB coach from 2013 to 2016, Lashlee found success for the majority of his tenure.
As OC/QB coach for Auburn in 2013, Lashlee helped the Tigers reach the national championship. His QB that year was Nick Marshall, who also ran for over 1,000 yards that season. Great call here against Bama #Lashlee pic.twitter.com/GmJo6BuncY— Bring Alonzo Highsmith To Miami (@hurricanesmarsh) January 3, 2020
In 2013, Lashlee’s offense averaged 38.3 points per game, and the Tigers went 12-2, won the SEC and appeared in the national championship game. At Auburn, Lashlee learned from Malzahn how to run a balanced offensive attack. His last year in 2016, Malzahn handed the play-calling duties over to Lashlee for the final nine games of the season, and the Tigers went on to average 34.2 PPG.
Lashlee called plays for Auburn the final 9 games in 2016. In those games, Auburn’s offense averaged 34.2 points per game pic.twitter.com/x2BMp9DYtD— Bring Alonzo Highsmith To Miami (@hurricanesmarsh) January 3, 2020
After a brief stint with UConn in 2017, Lashlee was hired by head coach Sonny Dykes and was brought to Dallas to become OC/QB coach for the SMU Mustangs. While they weren’t bad in 2018, this past year was nothing but fireworks from Rhett’s offense.
Under Lashlee, the SMU offense was 5th in the nation in scoring (41.8 PPG), 8th in total offense (489.8 YPG), 13th in passing offense (309 YPG), as the Mustangs notched its first 10-win season since 1987.
Learning from Malzahn and Dykes, Lashlee has been able to combine a spread option rushing game, and pair it with a prolific air raid passing system. You’ll primarily see 4-to-5 receivers lined out wide, very little under center work, and uses of different kind of screen passes.
When you sit down and watch Lashlee’s offense, the first thing that pops out is the tempo at which they’re running, even more so than Yost’s or Heckendorf’s teams. Yost has said himself he wants to have the ball snapped within 15 seconds of the play-clock. In 2019, SMU was 3rd in the country by averaging 80.2 plays ran per game, and in total they ran 193 more plays than the Hurricanes.
The second thing is his actual play-calling, which is creative and unpredictable, which as been the opposite of Miami’s offense in past years. Watch this play call from when SMU played Navy this year, that kind of innovation has never made its way to Coral Gables.
At the line of scrimmage, you see a lot of pre-snap motion, trying to create confusion and mismatches for the defense. Let’s look at a few examples of this, shall we? First, 2017 while Lashlee was OC for UConn. With all the motions, the Memphis defense completely forgets about the tight end, who’s wide open and scores.
GET ME RHETT LASHLEE. And this was against American Conference division champ Memphis. pic.twitter.com/RDEU98nCQO— Canecast Kev (@Smith31Kev) January 3, 2020
Next, we look at a more recent play from this past season. SMU was down near the goal line, and the running back motioned out wide, which drew out the linebacker with him, allowing the quarterback to easily walk in. With Lashlee's experience with designing QB runs, I could see Tate Martell benefiting very much from this hire.
This play in 2016, while Lashlee was at Auburn, is a perfect example of that. The running back motions out and the Tigers now have five WR’s, they fake the screen and go up top instead, resulting in a big gain.
From 2016 when Lashlee was at Auburn. Good call here, motions into 5 WR, fakes the screen and goes deep instead pic.twitter.com/BzeVPuYNvY— Bring Alonzo Highsmith To Miami (@hurricanesmarsh) January 3, 2020
Big gains is something that Lashlee and the Mustangs offense were very similar with in 2019, as SMU was third in the nation in plays over 30 yards. Lashlee puts his speedy position players in a spot where they can stretch the field vertically, something that Miami needs to figure out.
And like I said before, Lashlee’s offenses are always a well balanced attack, in case you were worrying if this is just another pass-happy coach. SMU averaged 180.8 YPG on the ground, and they also scored 35 rushing touchdowns. Just to give you an idea, Miami scored only 16 touchdowns running the football. The Mustangs were one of only 15 teams in the country to have both a 1,000 yard rusher, and a 1,000 yard receiver.
Lashlee’s offense isn’t all passing, he believes in a well balanced system. SMU averaged 180.8 YPG rushing and had 35 rushing touchdowns. Miami averaged 118.8 YPG rushing and just 16 TD’s on the ground. #Lashlee pic.twitter.com/z3TbGZnndC— Bring Alonzo Highsmith To Miami (@hurricanesmarsh) January 3, 2020
And because I know many of you will be wondering how Lashlee uses his tight ends, I'm here to reassure you that he does in fact use them, quite well actually. SMU tight end TE Kylen Granson had 43 catches, 721 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2019. Now, think of what Brevin Jordan would be able to do in Lashlee’s offense.
Since it’s the most important position on the field, and one that has plagued the Hurricanes for far too long, let’s look at how Lashlee’s quarterbacks have done. His most recent work with a QB was Shane Buechele, who transferred from Texas to SMU prior to the season. Buechele threw for 3,929 yards, 34 touchdowns, completed 62.7% of his passes, and averaged 8.0 yards per attempt.
Lashlee doesn’t have the QB guru resume that Yost does, but you can’t deny that Buechele was incredibly efficient this year, and that’s all the Hurricanes are looking for from their quarterbacks.
When it comes down to it, Miami would be hitting an absolute home run if they were able to land Lashlee as offensive coordinator. Everything the Hurricanes fans have been begging for, plethora of points and yards, spread out, high-tempo, Lashlee is the poster child for that vision. He has experience, proven success, and a creative offensive mind that can help the Canes win games.