The coronavirus pandemic robbed Miami Hurricane fans of getting a glance at Miami’s new spread offense. A ton of excitement was built this off-season around the hire of Rhett Lashlee as offensive coordinator. The buzz continued after D’Eriq King announced that he would be transferring to Miami. While the focus has been on those two, another two additions are just as impressive. The Hurricanes added two former play-callers in Garin Justice and Rob Likens to join the staff as position coaches.
Spread Offense Savants
After a season as one of the slowest teams in pace, Manny Diaz is all in on the spread offense. The Hurricanes are in the fortunate position of having an offensive staff that boasts three coaches with playcalling experience. All three coaches also have a detailed background either coaching or playing in a spread system.
Beginning with Lashlee, who is from the school of Gus Malzahn, having played for him in high school and later coaching under him. When Auburn won the national title in 2010, Malzahn admitted, in a USA Today article, that he only called about 50 percent of the plays and Lashlee the other 50 percent. Eventually, Lashlee would move on to Connecticut before heading to SMU under Sonny Dykes. Last season SMU won 10 games for the first time since 1984. Behind the up-tempo offense, the Mustangs finished seventh in the nation offensively in scoring average and broke the school record for rushing touchdowns.
The Hurricanes hired Likens to coach the wide receivers after he was the offensive coordinator at Arizona State the past two seasons. Much like Lashlee, Likens has a good history being under a coach with a spread offense/air raid principles. Prior to Arizona State, Likens also spent time under Dykes at California doubling as the passing game coordinator and receivers coach. With Likens as the passing game coordinator, Jared Goff experienced his best collegiate season. Goff finished sixth nationally in passing yards per game. Three of the four starting receivers in that offense were also Biletnikoff award candidates. Wide receivers have fared well under Likens. Last draft N’Keal Harry went in the first round. We could see Brandon Aiyuk drafted in the first round this season.
Fast and Physical
New offensive line coach Garin Justice is also a spread offense lifer. He both played and coached under Rich Rodriguez. Justice also had the luxury of having Rick Trickett as his position coach at West Virginia, another highly regarded coach in spread offense circles. Outside of the Rodriguez influence, Justice also coached under Lane Kiffin at FAU. In 2017 the offensive line unit at FAU enjoyed much success, allowing Devin Singletary to rush for over 1900 yards. Last season at UNLV, Justice added playcalling to his duties and continued a streak of another 1000 yard rusher. The Hurricanes haven’t had a 1000 yard rusher since 2016 but that streak should end. Miami also returns the entire starting offensive line next season, after having three new starters last season.
D’Eriq King Effect
While it helps to have coaches that know how to teach and develop players in the new system, it also helps to have a quarterback. Arguably the best player in the transfer portal was King. Having scored 50 total touchdowns in 2018, the electric playmaker is very familiar with the spread offense. King played in Kendal Briles’ system at Houston. There he led the American Athletic Conference in passing touchdowns and total touchdowns. Ironically, Briles was at FAU with Justice the season before and the Owls won the Sun Belt. King is dynamic and still has a record streak of scoring a passing touchdown and rushing touchdown in his last 15 games. That could very well be why he has the fourth-best Heisman odds in the nation.