Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Lashlee named offensive coordinator at UConn

UConn announced that Rhett Lashlee has been named the offensive coordinator.

Lashlee comes to UConn after being the offensive coordinator for the last four seasons at Auburn where he worked with current UConn AD David Benedict.

“I am thrilled to have Rhett join our staff as the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach,” UConn coach Randy Edsall said in a statement. “He is one of the brightest offensive minds in college football and I know that his experience around some of the highest-powered offenses and top players in the country is going to be an incredible benefit to our program.”

Lashlee agreed to a three-year contract at a base salary of $350,000 and he will also coach the quarterbacks.

“I'm excited to be joining Coach Edsall's staff and help him get our program to where we, our fans and student-athletes want it to be,” said Lashlee in a release. “Randy is a proven winner and has done it here at UConn before and I'm thrilled to be a part of his staff."

Lashlee also served as the offensive coordinator at Samford in 2011 and Arkansas State in 2012.

Auburn averaged 441 yards of total offense during the 2016 season and in 2014 the number was 485 yards per game highlighted by a season-high 630 yards against Alabama.

UConn finished the 2016 season ranked 122nd among 128 FBS teams in total offense averaging 320 yards per game.

When news broke of Bob Diaco's firing, I wondered if Lashlee would emerge as a candidate for the head coaching gig with the Huskies due to his ties with Benedict. Have to say it's rather surprising to see an offensive coordinator in the SEC take the same job at UConn but the Huskies should benefit from this move.

Lashlee was given the offensive play calling duties leading up to a key 26-10 win over Texas A&M during the 2015 season and in September of 2016,Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said he was handing over the play calling duties to Lashlee after a 1-2 start. The results were mixed as the Tigers did have more than 500 yards of total offense in wins over Louisiana-Monroe, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama A&M but managed less than 200 yards in losses to Georgia and Alabama.

In his first full month calling the plays Auburn ranked second in the FBS in total offense averaging 576.5 yards per game and was also second averaging 372 rushing yards per game in October. He helped with the offensive game plans against national champion Clemson and the Alabama team that the Tigers beat in the national title game. While he won't be working with the same caliber of player at UConn he had at Auburn, I doubt there will be too many teams on UConn's schedule with defensive talent like what Clemson and Alabama possessed.

“Rhett has been a valuable asset to our program, helping Auburn to a national championship as a graduate assistant and another national championship appearance in 2013,” said Malzahn in a statement. “Our offenses have achieved great success and he has been a big part of that. This is a great opportunity for Rhett to implement and run his own offense. I've known Rhett for two decades and he's a man of great character and integrity and this is another step towards his goal to become a head coach. I want to thank Rhett for all of his contributions and his friendship. I want to wish he and his wife Lauren all the best in this new endeavor.”

Certainly going from Auburn to UConn and for less money is going to open some eyes but it could be a case of getting a new lease on life and there is no doubt that he will be the one calling the plays. It sounded like his situation at Auburn was similar to the Bob Diaco/Anthony Poindexter deal at UConn where Poindexter was called the defensive coordinator but Diaco was so involved with the coaching on that side of the ball that the reality is he was more of a defensive coordinator than he was a head coach. I'm sure there's some behind the scenes stuff leading to the move but the reality is on paper that UConn seems to have made a major step in the right direction when it comes to the hiring of Lashlee as an offensive coordinator. It should also be noted that the offensive coordinator on the last UConn team coached by Edsall is Joe Moorhead who is now the offensive coordinator at Penn State.


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