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Miami Hurricanes: Sky’s the Limit for Rhett’s Running Backs

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History Shows Rhett Lashlee Is A Home Run For Running Backs

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 30 Miami at Duke Photo by John McCreary/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Since the hiring of Rhett Lashlee, much has been made about the perceived success anticipated for D’Eriq King in Rhett’s Spread Offense. The combination has invoked much excitement and conversation about the prospects of the season ahead. What has not been mentioned however, is the affect he has had on his running backs.

Normally when I do these look backs, the correlations and the comparisons are simple and similar. For the running backs, its all over the place, and somehow, that’s a good thing. Rhett’s offenses have had a feature back take the bulk of the snaps, multiple backs with 300 plus rushing yards or even two backs with over 100 carries and 600 yards.

The Numbers

Rhett’s Rushing Record

Year School Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Rhett Rk Miami Rk
Year School Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Rhett Rk Miami Rk
2012 Ark St 41.5 206.2 5 2.4 73.2 466.7 34th 84th
2013 AUB 52 328.4 6.3 3.4 72.4 501.4 2nd 82nd
2014 AUB 46.7 255.5 5.5 2.5 72.2 485 9th 46th
2015 AUB 45.1 196.3 4.4 2.2 68.6 369.9 32nd 118th
2016 AUB 49.6 271.3 5.5 2.5 71.7 440.8 9th 101st
2017 Uconn 40.3 146.3 3.6 1.4 75.4 415.5 83rd 79th
2018 SMU 33.3 115.6 3.5 1.4 72.3 387.3 121st 44th
2019 SMU 41.1 180.8 4.4 2.7 79.7 489.8 39th 122nd
Averages 43.7 212.55 4.775 2.3125 73.1875 444.55 41st 85th

Since 2012, Lashlee’s offenses have, if nothing else, shown great balance. The attention we give the passing game he has fostered should also be given to the running game. Over 8 years, Lashlee has averaged 73 plays a game, with 43 going to the rushing attack. Over that same time frame, his rushing attacks have averaged 41st in the nation. Outliers when his rushing attack fell to 83rd (2017) and 121st (2018), coincide with teams bereft of talent and defense, forcing two years of the lowest rushing attempts and average yards per rush. Over that same 8 year time frame, the Miami Hurricanes offense averaged a lowly 85th on the yards per game chart, nearly 44 spots worse than Lashlee.

The Rushers

Every year under Lashlee’s offenses, multiple rushers hit at least 40 rushing attempts. Six out of eight seasons, he has a 1,000 yard rushers, including four rushers over 1,200 yards and two over 1,600 yards. The two years he had a true dual threat in Nick Marshall, also features seasons those backs eclipsed 1,600 yards. Marshall, over that two year frame, rushed for 1,068 and 798 yards, respectively.

Rhett’s Rushers

Year School Player Att Yds Avg TD
Year School Player Att Yds Avg TD
2012 Ark St David Oku 243 1061 4.4 16
2013 AUB Tre Mason 317 1816 5.7 23
Nick Marshall (QB) 172 1068 6.2 12
2014 AUB Cameron Artis-Payne 303 1608 5.3 13
Nick Marshall (QB) 153 798 5.2 11
2015 AUB Peyton Barber 238 1017 4.3 13
Jovon Robinson 117 639 5.5 3
Kerryon Johnson 52 208 4 3
2016 AUB Kamryn Pettway 209 1224 5.9 7
Kerryon Johnson 182 895 4.9 11
2019 SMU Xavier Jones 244 1276 5.2 23
Ke'Mon Freeman 122 517 4.2 5

As mentioned, the Marshall years are the seasons that truly stick out and match, in terms of quarterback rushing, that most resembles what we will be featuring in 2020. With a dual threat quarterback in King, combined and a powerful, athletic set of backs, there is a likelihood these seasons could be a preview, on the rushing side, of what we can expect this season.

SEC Championship - Missouri v Auburn Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Tre Mason and Nick Marshall (2013)

The 2013 season featuring Tre Mason and the aforementioned Marshall was truly special. Their combined rushing performance nearly hit the 3,000 yard mark, averaged 5.89 a rush. The two combined for 25 TDs on the ground and led Auburn to the BCS Championship game where they narrowly lost to Florida St.

Cameron Artis-Payne and Nick Marshall (2014)

Another year with dual-threat Nick Marshall result in another season with gaudy rushing numbers. Artis-Payne hit 1.608 yards, Marshall hit 798 and the duo hit 24 TDs together.

The biggest takeaway in the short look at Rhett Lashlee’s rushing production, is that the rock will be run early and often. Similar to his wide receivers, multiple running backs will get meaningful carries if qualified and, most excitingly, a dual threat quarterback can be down right terrifying under Lashlee.

There is no denying the passing yards will be there, but lets not rush to conclusions. The runners on Miami’s team should be ready, because ground attack will be a frequent weapon for the 2020 Miami Hurricanes.