The writing was on the wall for a week or so, but new Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin finally officially announced that his new offensive coordinator is UCF’s Jeff Lebby who held the same position there. Lebby spent the past two seasons in Orlando working with head coach Josh Huepel, the first as quarterbacks coach before being promoted to coordinator following the 2018 season. Prior to that, he was an assistant at Baylor for five years, primarily as running backs coach.
During his time in Waco, albeit a controversial one, Lebby was a part of several high-powered offenses where his running backs were a focal point. While a part of Art Briles’ staff, he coached five different 1,000-yard rushers.
Baylor’s 2015 squad was 2nd in the country in rushing offense. Shock Linwood and Johnny Jefferson both went over 1,000 yards that season. Lebby earned 2013 FootballScoop Running Backs Coach of the Year honors after orchestrating an offense that produced Baylor’s first back-to-back 1,000-yard rushers and helped lead them to a 10-3 season.
This year, his offense ranks 4th in yards per game, 6th in the FBS in points per game (43.0), 8th in passing offense, and 13th in Bill Connelly’s SP+ rankings. Furthermore, only two teams in the country are averaging more than 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing per game this season and Ole Miss’ new offensive coordinator was in charge of one of them.
Now, with all that said, Lane Kiffin is going to have a say with the offense and the play-calling, let’s be real. But, Lebby has experience as a quarterbacks and running backs coach and will be an integral part of this offense next season, no doubt.
So let’s take a look at what a Jeff Lebby offense looks like shall we?
Let’s dive into what Lebby did with true freshman All-American Dillon Gabriel at UCF this season, shall we?
We’ll start with the basics. One of Lebby’s staple running plays is a basic outside stretch play with both guards pulling to lead the way. The receivers split out wide, creating plenty of space (a theme) for the running back to work with once he gets to the second level.
Here we see motion towards the formation, a spot that Jerrion Ealy or Elijah Moore would presumably be in, and getting the hand-off. The thing that sticks out to me about this one is whether or not the quarterback is reading the defensive end or just handing it off. You can also see that there is a second hand-off possibility after the initial one, AND Gabriel sprints left after that fake, leading one to believe there is a play action out of this one. Lovely.
Here is another basic inside run with a h-back coming into the interior to lead the way. No. 89 gets into the legs of a linebacker and from there the running back does the race, beating the remaining defenders to the goal line. Simple yet effective.
Here on the goal line and with a new quarterback, they motion the back out of the backfield, eliminating the extra defender and making it a numbers game in the box. Just a tiny adjustment here and recognition from Lebby and the offense in a crucial down-and-distance situation in the red zone.
Now as we move on to some passing concepts, here is one I really love. Lebby utilizes a wheel route on the outside and uses the aggressive, overzealous defense against itself. We see a pump fake from the quarterback and then a dart thrown to the skinny post that was delayed and run behind the wheel route.
Here we take a look at three play calls in a row that set up the final one. In the first play, Gabriel makes the play fake to the running back and then zips it out to the slot receiver who ran a quick hitch route.
The very next play, Gabriel makes the same play fake and then zips it out to the outside receiver towards the boundary on a slant route. The receiver uses the space created by the inside receiver running a slant and inside leverage against a cornerback who is giving ground immediately.
And lastly, instead of a play fake, we get a shoulder dip-pump fake from Gabriel, catching the defense with their eyes in the backfield and forcing one defender to tackle the slot receiver because he bit on the fake, resulting in a penalty.
The outside defender bit on the fake, too, and despite the ball being just out of reach, the play was effective and would’ve resulted in a big gain. I love the play design and think the innovation here is next level, utilizing a sequence to set up the defense and to plant a proverbial seed for later in the game.
Another thing I love about Lebby’s offense is his affinity for the backside of the field and the formation. Lots of hidden gems over there due to positioning, angles, and laziness from defenders. Here we see a quick play fake and Gabriel whips around and hits the receiver on a backside post for a big gain. Brilliant.
And lastly, it appears that our new offense dad has a love for not only misdirection but TRICK PLAY REVERSE PASS!!!!
Matt Corral is back and John Rhys Plumlee and Grant Tisdale will be in the mix as well. Who is to say that Lebby and Kiffin can’t cook up something like this for these three to do with Jerrion Ealy on the field, too? Why not have them all out there AT THE SAME DAMN TIME?!?!
Woo wee, this is going to be fun.