Rhett Lashlee shares Gus Malzahn coaching tree with FSU interim coaches

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 31: (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 31: (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Miami Hurricanes offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, Florida State head coach Mike Norvell, interim head coach Chris Thomsen and interim play-caller Kenny Dillingham are all proteges of Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn.

New Miami Hurricanes offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee should be able to help prepare Manny Diaz and co-defensive coordinators Blake Baker and Ephraim Banda get ready to face the Florida State offense on Saturday. Lashlee and three prominent Florida State coaches are all proteges of Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn.

Florida State head coach Mike Norvell is out for the Seminoles trip to Hard Rock Stadium after testing positive for Covid-19.  Norvell spent two seasons under Malzahn as a graduate assistant for wide receivers at Tulsa. Malzahn was the offensive coordinator under Todd Graham in 2007 and 2008.

Rhett Lashlee has an extensive history with Malzahn. The first-year Miami offensive coordinator played for Malzahn at Springdale High School in Arkansas. The beginning of Lashlee’s career as a coach was primarily under Malzahn. Lashlee began his career as a graduate assistant at Arkansas in 2006.

Malzahn was the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at Arkansas in 2006 before leaving for Tulsa. Lashlee was out of coaching in 2007 and 2008 before going to Auburn in 2009 and 2010 as a graduate assistant under Malzahn who was the offensive coordinator.

Malzahn was hired as the head coach at Arkansas State in 2012 where he hired a 29-year-old Lashlee as the offensive coordinator. Following one season, Malzahn replaced his former boss Gene Chizek at Auburn and brought Lashlee with him. Lashlee stayed through 2016 before leaving for UConn.

The time on other coaching staffs gave Lashlee a chance to develop his own system and eventually land in Coral Gables after two seasons as the offensive coordinator at SMU. Following the departure of Malzahn from Tulsa, Norvell was the wide receivers coach at passing game coordinator at Tulsa in 2009 and 2010.

Norvell spent one season as the offensive coordinator at Pittsburgh before leaving for Arizona State as the Sun Devils offensive coordinator from 2012-2015. Kenny Dillingham worked as an offensive assistant under Norvell at ASU in 2014 and ’15. Dillingham is currently the Florida State offensive coordinator.

Dillingham will call plays against Miami on Saturday night. Dillingham spent four years on the Norvell staff at Memphis. In 2016, Dillingham began as a graduate assistant with the Tigers, was the quarterbacks and tight ends coach in 2017 and the QB and offensive coordinator in 2019.

In 2019, Dillingham was the offensive coordinator and QB coach at Auburn under Malzahn. Auburn finished

64th in total offense

in 2019 and

28th in scoring offense

. Dillingham has a huge task getting the Florida State offense back to where they were a few years ago. Willie Taggart failed to improve the FSU offense.

Thomsen primarily has experience as an offensive line coach at the FBS level. As the head coach at Division II Abilene Christian Thomsen led the Wildcats to their first playoff appearance in 2006 and earned berths in his final six seasons. Miami should have an advantage with Thomsen and Dillingham leading Florida State.

For the first time in many years, Miami will have an advantage at the skill positions on offense over Florida State. Lashlee should be able to take advantage of a Florida State defense that allowed 438 yards in a 16-13 season-opening loss to Georgia Tech two weeks ago. The FSU special teams kept them in the game.

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Georgia Tech had 277 yards passing from freshman QB Jeff Sims in his first game and ran for 161 yards. Lashlee has shown the ability to call a game based on what the opponent does defensively and exploit their weakness. That is how the Malzahn offense works. With more talent, the Miami offense should outscore FSU.