DL Coach Jess Simpson Miami football interim HC, Rob Likens will call plays

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 24: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 24: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Defensive line coach Jess Simpson will be the interim head coach for the Miami football team with wide receivers coach Rob Likens calling plays when the Hurricanes play Washington State in the Sun Bowl on December 31. Simpson has never been a collegiate head coach but won multiple Georgia State championships.

Likens is taking over for offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee who was named the head coach at SMU last week. Prior to being hired by the Miami football program, Likens had 10 years of experience as an offensive coordinator in college. Likens split four years as the OC at Kansas and Arizona State.

Miami WRs have emergence this season under the tutelage of Likens. Charleston Rambo set Miami single-season records with 79 receptions for 1,171 yards and added seven TDs. Mike Harley emerged under Likens the last two seasons and set the school career reception record with 182 in the final regular-season game.

Harley said in the postgame in the final regular-season game against Duke he will play in the bowl game. Rambo declared for the NFL Draft and it seems likely he will not play against Washington State. Without Rambo, the three amigos freshmen Romello Brinson, Jacolby George and Brashard Smith will play more snaps.

Starting WR Keyshawn Smith will be likely to have more targets and expect backup slot receiver Xavier Restrepo to have more playing time. The Miami football team will play a Washington State defense 47th nationally in points allowed and 68th in total defense. The Hurricanes offense has been rolling for the last two months.

Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke enters the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl with six consecutive games of more than 300 yards passing and at least three touchdowns. Van Dyke finished the season with 2,931 yards, 25 TDs and six interceptions. All of the WRs listed above have been key contributors this season.

Tight end Will Mallory who is set to return in 2022 set career highs with 30 receptions for 347 yards and added four TD receptions. Simpson will take over the play calling duties for a maligned Miami defense. Head coach Manny Diaz who was fired on Monday has been the Hurricanes defensive coordinator this year.

Miami is allowing 28.4 PPG in 2021, which is currently 85th nationally. The Hurricanes are 77th allowing 389.6 yards per game. Primarily because of Simpson Miami remained strong on the DL in 2021. Miami is 11th averaging 7.75 tackles for loss per game and are 38th averging 2.75 sacks per game.

Miami and Washington State will have a noon eastern time kickoff on New Year’s Eve. This is the third trip to the Sun Bowl for Miami. In all three appearances the Hurricanes will have had an interim coach. Miami lost 33-17 to Notre Dame in 2010 after Jeff Southland replaced Randy Shannon.

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Larry Scott coached in his seventh game of the 2015 season in the Sun Bowl after replacing Al Golden who was fired in-season. Miami coincidentally lost 20-14 to Washington State in a snowstorm. The 2015 game was the first time the ironcially named Sun Bowl had snow since the 1987 game on Christmas Day.