Back by overwhelming demand, FootballScoop will once again examine the assistant coaching hires that will have the biggest impact on the college football season and the coaching job market in the 2019 season and beyond.
No. 19: Bryan Brown, Louisville
No. 18: Phil Longo, North Carolina
No. 17: Les Koenning, Kansas
No. 16: Andy Avalos, Oregon
No. 15: Joe Cauthen, Houston
No. 14: Bodie Reeder, North Texas
No. 13: Mike MacIntyre, Ole Miss
No. 12: Andy Ludwig, Utah
No. 11: Kenny Dillingham, Auburn
No. 10: Jim Chaney, Tennessee
No. 9: Sean Gleeson, Oklahoma State
Who: Dan Enos, Miami
Title: Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach
Previous stop: Alabama associate head coach/quarterbacks coach (2018)
Why he’s important: Rarely will you find a team prognosis simpler than 2019 Miami’s — if the defense stays the same and the offense improves, this team could be dangerous. If those things don’t happen, they won’t.
The 2018 Hurricanes fielded a championship-caliber defense: fourth in total defense (278.9 yards per game), third in yards per play (4.3), first in passing efficiency defense (101.39), first in third down defense (25.37 percent) and tied for first in tackles for loss (136). Star linebackers Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney are back, as is, crucially, coordinator Manny Diaz, who received a promotion you may have heard something back.
So, that side of the ball is good. All Enos has to do is fix the offense.
And a fixing it will require. Last season’s Hurricanes were 105th in total offense, 75th in yards per play and 66th were scoring. The ‘Canes were pretty good at running the ball (5.2 yards per carry, 24th), but putrid at throwing it, ranking a dismal 115th in passing efficiency.
In a way, it’s kind of a good thing that an inefficient passing game is Miami’s glaring weakness, because Enos is fresh off piecing together one of the most efficient passing seasons in the history of the sport. Tua Tagovailoa set the FBS record with a 199.44 quarterback rating, erasing the record set by 2017 Heisman winner Baker Mayfield and edging out 2018 Heisman winner Kyler Murray. When Tua left the SEC Championship with an ankle injury, Jalen Hurts saved the Tide’s day by going 7-of-9 for 82 yards and a touchdowns.
In fact, good as Tua was last season, Enos’s might be most evident with Hurts. With the admitted caveat that his sample size went way down (254 passes to 70) and most of those 70 passes came against backups, Hurts’ quarterback rating rocketed from 150.75 under Brian Daboll in 2017 to 196.67 under Enos.
Counterpoint: Arkansas. In three seasons as the Hogs’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Arkansas quarterbacks’ passing efficiency immediately rose from 68th to fifth in his first season on staff, then fell to 30th in 2016 and then to 71st in 2017.
Of course, there’s more to an offense than completion percentages and yards per attempt. Miami’s 2018 offense, especially toward the end of the season, resembled the attitude of the head coach who called its plays — just kinda tired and ready to get it over with already.
The 2019 team will suffer no such problem.
“It’s a huge difference,” tight end Brevin Jordan told The Athletic. “We have so much fun. We’re motioning, we’re moving around. There’s plays where I can run in or out. There’s so many different concepts.
“The motioning … it’s mainly just to cause mismatch problems. To put us on a linebacker, to put us on a safety. It helps a lot at the end of the day. We’re going to make money.”
“He’s a very creative play-caller, has a great knack for presenting things that look the same and then having counters off of those,” Diaz said. “Again, it’s hard to get into the specifics of [what] you’ll see … differently for sure. But again, the main thing I want to see is I want to see a team that’s highly competitive. I want to see a team that plays with great toughness. I want to see a team that uses our speed and the athletes that we have to put constant stress on the defense that we play against.”
Enos and Diaz have never worked together before, but in playing opposite each other and conversing on the phone, Enos felt good enough about it — and/or bad enough about spending another season under Nick Saban’s thumb — that he passed on a promotion at Alabama to move to Miami.
“The Miami thing was less about Alabama and more about the Miami situation, how we just felt a really strong pull to be there, to help a program that I believe is on the cusp of doing some great things with a coach that has a great vision,” Enos said in January.
“We competed against each other, so I think there was a respect there [that] he had for me, of having to prepare for offenses I’ve been a part of in the past as well. Again, once we started to talk and got deep into the discussions philosophically on what he was looking for and what he expected, and the vision he had for the program and the offense, we just felt like it was going to be a very good match.”
If the offense sputters once again, it won’t be for a lack of talent. As The Athletic summarized it last month:
There are 16 players on Miami’s offense who were four-star recruits coming out of high school, including all three quarterbacks who were around this spring, five receivers led by speedster Jeff Thomas, four offensive linemen led by returning starters Navaughn Donaldson and DJ Scaife, running backs Cam’ron Harris and DeeJay Dallas, and tight ends Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory.
Enos also has the only five-star recruit on the team on his side: running back Lorenzo Lingard, who is coming off knee surgery.
Still, the offensive line is young and unproven — a true freshman might start at left tackle — as are the quarterbacks. N’Kosi Perry returns after splitting time last season and is currently battling transfer Tate Martell and redshirt freshman Jarren Williams. Battle isn’t a metaphor here; Diaz pit Perry and Martell against each other in an Oklahoma drill earlier in training camp.
That’s part of Diaz’s effort to make his first Miami team tougher, and Enos will make them more creative. If it works, Miami could be back in Charlotte as the ACC Coastal champions. If it doesn’t, Enos could be asking himself why he left Tuscaloosa in the first place.