As Lashlee reportedly heads to SMU, the coordinator leaves important legacy at Miami

·4 min read

The Miami Hurricanes’ offense was at its lowest point maybe ever when Rhett Lashlee came to Coral Gables ahead of last season.

Miami had just been shutout in the 2019 Independence Bowl and ended the 2019 season with three straight losses to the FIU Panthers, Duke Blue Devils and Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. A one-year Dan Enos experiment failed miserably and Manny Diaz was desperate to prove he could bring something new, and exciting to Coral Gables. His solution was luring Rhett Lashlee away from the SMU Mustangs.

“We’ve talked forever about bringing the spread to Miami,” Diaz said, “and it’s here.”

For two years, Lashlee delivered on the promise and elevated the Hurricanes’ offense into one of the most dynamic in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Now, he’s reportedly headed back to SMU, where he was the offensive coordinator in 2018 and 2019, to become the coach of the Mustangs. Although Miami has not confirmed 247Sports.com’s report, Tyler Van Dyke said he has talked to Lashlee about the possibility he could leave to become a coach elsewhere.

“We talked about it,” the quarterback said. “We were just focused on Duke today, but, yeah, I’d be really happy for Coach Lashlee if he were to take that job. That’d be a good way for him to be a head coach and he deserves it. He’s ready for it, so I’m just happy for him that he gets that opportunity.”

If Saturday was indeed Lashlee’s last game at Miami, he leaves with the offense in a much better place and the quarterback position stabilized with Van Dyke saying he’ll be back next season.

The Hurricanes (7-5, 5-3) erupted for 530 total yards Saturday in a 47-10 rout of Duke (3-9, 0-8) in Durham, North Carolina, and finished the regular season averaging 449.9 yards per game, 6.1 yards per play and 34.1 points per game. All three numbers are an improvement on last year and all three last year were a major improvement on the year before.

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In Enos’ lone season as its offensive coordinator, Miami averaged 25.7 points per game, 367.4 yards per game and 5.7 yards per play. The Hurricanes ranked in the bottom half of the country in scoring offense and total offense, and were such a mess Diaz looked for an entirely new offensive philosophy.

Enter Lashlee.

The assistant coach set records as the offensive coordinator at SMU and brought a high-tempo, spread attack to South Florida and Miami’s fortunes immediately changed. Quarterback D’Eriq King had one of the best seasons in program history last year, Mike Harley wound up setting the school’s all-time receptions record and fellow wide receiver Charleston Rambo broke the Hurricanes’ single-season receiving yards record Saturday at Wallace Wade Stadium.

“That is the Miami system of offense. That’s what we will be,” Diaz said. “He’s been great, great to help be a part of transforming this football program.”

While Diaz’s own job status may well mean he doesn’t get to pick the Hurricanes’ next offensive coordinator, it’s clear Lashlee’s style works at Miami.

Lashlee’s greatest lasting legacy, however, could be revitalizing the Hurricanes’ quarterbacks. King left the Houston Cougars for Miami because he wanted to play for Lashlee and the coordinator also helped the Hurricanes land elite quarterback recruit Jake Garcia in the Class of 2021.

While Van Dyke actually committed to Miami because of Enos, the second-year freshman broke out with Lashlee calling the plays and serving as his quarterbacks coach. Van Dyke went 34 of 39 for 381 yards and three touchdowns Saturday, giving him six straight games with at least 325 yards and three scores. He’s up to 2,931 yards and 25 touchdowns this season, even though he only attempted one pass in the first three games as King’s backup. With a bowl game left to play, Van Dyke is only four touchdown passes away from Miami’s single-season record.

“We’ve built a great relationship over the course of the year,” Van Dyke said.

The NCAA’s still-new one-time transfer rule does mean Van Dyke could choose to follow Lashlee to Dallas and not have to sit out a year, but Van Dyke said he “of course” plans to be back with the Hurricanes next year.

Said Diaz: “We’ve got a quarterback room that we wouldn’t trade with any other one in the country.”

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