Washington Football

Malzahn swiftly hires vet, protege as coordinators

201212071054392782684-p2.jpeg

Malzahn swiftly hires vet, protege as coordinators

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) New Auburn coach Gus Malzahn was flanked by his fresh-faced protege, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, and silver-haired defensive boss Ellis Johnson on Friday.

He introduced the 29-year-old Lashlee and 60-year-old Johnson at a news conference three days after his hiring. Lashlee will make $350,000 a year while Johnson received an $800,000 salary, though Auburn hasn't released the lengths of their deals or other terms.

Lashlee's hire seemed almost a foregone conclusion.

He spent three years as Malzahn's quarterback at Shiloh Christian High School in Arkansas and has worked under him in the prep ranks and at three different colleges, including their initial stop in Auburn.

``He's one of the bright, young and up-and-coming offensive minds in all of college football,'' Malzahn said. ``He's been my right-hand man at three different stops in college. At Arkansas he was my right-hand man. I relied on him a lot here at Auburn. He deserves a lot of the credit for our offensive success that we had and of course this past year at Arkansas State, just did a phenomenal job. I know exactly what I'm getting.

``He's going to give me the flexibility to help with the offense and at the same time be a head coach and do the things that head coach has to do.''

Malzahn said the two will collaborate on play calling duties in an offense built upon a relentlessly fast tempo and a style that is heavy on the run and play-action passes. It worked well enough in 2010 that the Tigers won a national title and quarterback Cam Newton took the Heisman Trophy. Lashlee spent last season as Malzahn's offensive coordinator at Arkansas State after a year running the offense for FCS team Samford.

``Our identity as an offense will be to play fast and physical,'' Lashlee said. ``That will be ingrained in our guys from Day One. You can't have one without the other. We will play extremely fast and we want to be very physical at every position.

``We'll have a physical downhill running game, we'll also be explosive in the passing game and be very aggressive taking vertical shots down the field and stretching the field horizontally. That's our philosophy. We want to make teams defend the whole field. I think the biggest intangible and thing we've got to instill as an offense, and this has always been our philosophy, is discipline.''

They've got an uphill battle. Auburn ranked 115th in total offense last season. Lashlee and Malzahn are familiar with all three quarterbacks who started games: Kiehl Frazier, Clint Moseley and Jonathan Wallace.

Lashlee said that familiarity is a plus but they'll still install the offense ``like they've never heard it before.''

He broke the national record with 171 career touchdowns passes under Malzahn and led Shiloh to three state championship games and two titles.

``One of the most beneficial things I have is that I played quarterback in this system and now coach in it,'' Lashlee said. ``When I'm coaching quarterbacks, I can identify with them even moreso than most. I know what they're seeing. I know what they're thinking. I've done those drops. I've thrown that route. I know all that. Not only am I telling them, `here's what you should do,' but they know I've done it.

``It sometimes adds some credibility and resonates better. I get what they're going through.''

Johnson, whose hiring was announced on Thursday, can relate to the challenge of defenses facing Malzahn's offense.

His South Carolina defense faced Malzahn and Newton twice in 2010, losing in the regular season and the Southeastern Conference championship game. Johnson would grumble that the proliferation of hurry-up styles ``is starting to deteriorate some of college football.''

He's backtracking now.

``Did I say that? Translated into Latin, that means, `Somebody help us, we can't stop this,''' Johnson said. ``All of us defensive coordinators complained over the last 5-15 years. Gus wasn't the first one but he kind of put it in warp speed.''

His base defense is a four-man front with two inside linebackers and five defensive backs.

``It will be our foundation,'' Johnson said. ``But Coach Malzahn wants an attacking, multiple defense, and that's what we're going to be. You can only be as multiple as your talent allows you to be. As we evaluate personnel on this football team, we'll find ways to create packages that complement that 4-2-5.''

The coaching change has potentially taken a toll on a recruiting class that has been ranked among the top 10. Recruiting Web sites reported Friday that five-star linebacker Reuben Foster of Auburn High School has decommitted.

Quick Links

Redspears or not these uniform designs are a great option for Washington

Redspears or not these uniform designs are a great option for Washington

When looking at the endless amounts of fan concepts and designs out there for the Washington Football Team's next name and logo, it's important to remember that not every idea belongs to the name suggestion of the designer. 

Once Washington makes its final decision, you can bet they'll be looking at a number of different options, and if they want to take a look at the fans' work, they could take a Red Wolves logo and match it up with a Red Tails uniform concept and tweak both to match whatever name they choose. 

In that case, whatever name and logo they choose should have these uniforms, plain and simple. 

 

Mike Joseph created these uniforms as part of his Washington Redspears project and did an exceptional job mocking up a number of different modern uniform designs.

RELATED: DEL RIO EXPLAINS WHY HE'S SO ACTIVE ON TWITTER

Redspears isn't a likely name change due to reports saying the franchise plans to stay away from Native American imagery, but that doesn't mean we should ignore these designs.

 

These use the burgundy and gold really well and have a unique number font that has worked for NFL teams like the Ravens, Broncos, Bears, Titans and Steelers in the past. 

The great part about this design is it could be easily rebranded to a different. All the franchise would have to do is lose the spear logo and use whatever logo they settle upon. They could even keep the numbers on the helmet as they have currently. Everything else is versatile. 

Between the sleek design, use of colors and the unique number fonts, this has to be one of, if not the best fan-generated uniform mock-up out there. If the Washington Football team uses these but with a different team name and logo, it'd be hard to complain about that decision. 

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TALK PODCAST

Stay connected to the team with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL NEWS:

Quick Links

Recent numbers indicate just how hard it could be for Antonio Gandy-Golden to help as a rookie

Recent numbers indicate just how hard it could be for Antonio Gandy-Golden to help as a rookie

There were already some decent expectations placed on Antonio Gandy-Golden for 2020 — and then Kelvin Harmon went down. Now, the Day 3 selection is being labeled as someone who needs to really contribute to the Washington Football Team.

But is that too much to ask for a rookie who went on Saturday in the draft? Recent numbers indicate that answer may be yes.

From 2015 to 2019, 25 wide receivers were chosen in the fourth round, which is where Washington nabbed Gandy-Golden a few months ago. Here are some takeaways from looking back on how all of those guys performed in their first professional seasons:

  • Only one target topped 50 catches and 600 yards, and coincidentally enough, it was Jamison Crowder. Crowder caught 59 passes for 604 yards and two scores as a rookie for the Burgundy and Gold in 2015. The only other guy who came close to either of those marks was Antonio Callaway, who had 43 grabs for 586 yards and five touchdowns for Cleveland in 2018. Those are easily the two best performances by a fourth-round rookie wideout since 2015, so keep that in mind when discussing Gandy-Golden.
  • Out of that group of 25, 15 suited up for double-digit games for their teams during their first taste of the league. The average stat line for those 15 rookies was 17 receptions for 182 yards and one touchdown in about 14 contests. That's meager. 
  • Just nine out of the 25 recorded a touchdown catch as a rookie, and only four (Crowder, Callaway, DaeSean Hamilton and Malcom Mitchell) visited the end zone multiple times.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TALK PODCAST

So, judging solely off of that data, it would appear that Washington shouldn't be prepared to lean heavily Gandy-Golden. And once you combine that history with other factors, such as the huge transition he's about to make from Libery to the NFL and the very limited offseason he's had thus far, then the outlook for Gandy-Golden becomes even dimmer.

There is a super simple counter argument, however, at least when it comes to comparing him to his past fourth-round peers, and it has to do with his potential playing time.

While the 22-year-old has to fight through a pandemic, something none of the above rookies can relate to and something that could be detrimental to his early career, he also may be in line for a massive share of snaps right away. Most players who go off the board where Gandy-Golden did are usually worried about simply making the team; he, on the other hand, very well could be a starter across from Terry McLaurin in Week 1.

That alone means Gandy-Golden could end up having enough involvement in the offense to come up with a Crowder-like, impactful debut. In 2019, McLaurin far surpassed other third-round rookie receivers due largely to the amount of opportunity he got with Washington (his ridiculous talent was a bonus of course, too). Gandy-Golden is tracking on a similar path. 

A fairly general rule for any franchise is that it's not exactly prudent to need a Day 3 pass catcher to immediately act as one of your primary weapons. Stats from 2015 to 2019 seem to back up that general rule.

Every rule has an exception here or there, though. Maybe Gandy-Golden, with his outstanding physical traits and possibly featured role in 2020, will be that next exception and make all this math and comparing a totally moot issue. 

Stay connected to the team with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL NEWS: