In a twist of events, SMU has now found their new offensive coordinator in Rhett Lashlee. He was with Auburn and Gus Malzahn in 2016, before taking the offensive coordinator job at UConn in 2017. For SMU, this is a huge hire. The previous coaching staff is almost all at Arkansas, and Sonny Dykes was somehow able to get Lashlee to flip. Let’s take a look a more in-depth look at what he will bring to SMU, and how it will mesh with Sonny Dykes Air Raid offense.
How he impacted UConn’s offense from last year to this year.
In 2016, UConn was horrendous on offense. The Huskies went 3-9 that season winning two games by single digits, one to FCS Maine. Even with decent players like Bryant Shireffs and Arkeel Newsome at the skill positions, UConn was one of the worst offensive teams. At one point, Diaco even burned a redshirt late in the season at quarterback to save his job. Shireffs end up passing for 2,010 yards, while Newsome rushed for 715 yards. They were not that great on the receiving end either. Noel Thomas was the only 1,000 yard receiver, while every other player was below 300 yards.
This past season, while UConn was not terrific, they improved with Lashlee calling the plays. Shireffs and David Pindell split time at quarterback and accumulated over 3,000 yards together. They were also good on the ground rushing for 489 yards. Lashlee also brought out the best in his two freshman running backs, Kevin Mensah and Nate Hopkins, as they led the way with 561 and 343 yards respectively. On the receiving end this year, 5 receivers were over 300 yards. The ball was distributed much better despite having the same record.
Overall, the offense improved and looked more lively. Not only did the stat sheet look better for UConn, but the offense actually looked like a competent offense. As many SMU fans remember, despite the outcome, UConn was in the game all the way till the 4th quarter before being overpowered. Rhett Lashlee was the big contributor to that offense.
What he brings to the table
This should bring joy to the ears of any SMU fan. He is quoted in saying that he believes in a balanced offense that goes up-tempo. He will try to get the ball snapped within 15 seconds of the play clock. So #ponyuptempo is still a go if Lashlee has his hand in the offense. He believes in screens and throwing to his running backs out of the back field. It’s not quite the same as Morris’ offense but, all in all, it should be a similar look to the 2017 offense.
How he and Dykes offense will mesh
This is where things can get dicey. In our Slack channel, we all seemed to agree that the Lashlee hire was good, yet interesting due to Sonny Dykes offensive scheme. Dykes is known for his Air Raid offense. Meaning, they will lean on their quarterback in almost any situation. It’s a style famed by player coach combo: Mike Leach and Luke Falk at Washington State. But Lashlee’s approach is a bit different. Lashlee is going to want to get those backs involved and bring a balance to an offense. To have a quarterback throw the ball down the field 40-50 times a game is unnecessary. He also is a firm believer in letting the quarterback take off on designed runs. I’m not sure how that will fit Ben Hicks, but we will not know till the spring game.
Prediction of how the offense will run under Lashlee
The offense will sputter at first. Whenever a new coach comes in and implements a new offense, it becomes problematic for the players. But in the end, these two coaches are extremely talented and will most likely find a common ground that will have this offense moving again. With Courtland Sutton and Trey Quinn moving on, SMU is going to have to find some new receivers to make this spread/air raid hybrid work. I am expecting more screens and check downs then we would be accustomed to seeing. If the ball gets thrown, it will most likely be heading James Proche’s way. I am expecting a slightly lesser extent of the 2017 offense.
Do you think it was a good hire? Vote in the poll and comment below!
Was Rhett Lashlee a good hire?
This poll is closed
Yes, offense will improve
Yes, similar 2017 offensive production
No, Dykes and Lashlee won’t mesh