What to expect from Dan Enos and Miami’s offense

Miami’s hire of Dan Enos away from Alabama’s staff produced one of the funnier anecdotes of the offseason and perhaps some amount of hype. After all, Enos was the quarterbacks coach for Tua Tagovailoa last year and had a well-regarded run as Bret Bielema’s offensive coordinator at Arkansas.

I’ve looked through Enos’s time as an FBS play caller and distilled some trends to look for from Miami’s offense this upcoming weekend.

A quick bio

Enos was a quarterback at Michigan State in the late ’80s and began his career as a grad assistant there in the early ’90s. He spent most of that decade working his way up through lower divisions before hitting I-A as Western Michigan’s quarterbacks coach in 2000. He mostly bounced around the mid-major ranks in that decade before becoming Central Michigan’s head coach in 2010.

Enos spent five years at CMU, and he personally called the offensive plays according to his Arkansas bio page. He then made the rare move from MAC head coach to SEC offensive coordinator when Bielema hired him in 2015.

After that regime ended, Enos spent a year in Tuscaloosa as QBs coach. Mike Locksley called the plays for Alabama last year, but as is the case everywhere, other offensive assistants like Josh Gattis and Enos had input. I would caution against giving Enos too much credit for Tagovailoa, as it was clear from the 2017 spring game that Tua is a special player. That said, some amount of his maturation and refinement probably did come from Enos’s tutelage.

A pro-style guy

Though Bama ran some modern RPO and option stuff last year, that was not a result of Enos’s influence. Lane Kiffin had implemented a lot of it in prior years, and Gattis brought more from having worked under Joe Moorhead at Penn State. Enos even said early this year that the Tide’s RPO game was “a whole new world for me”, as in, he had limited exposure to it before working for a team that employed that stuff.

What you think of when you think of a Bielema offense is much more representative of Enos’s sensibilities. Though Bielema is most commonly associated with a ground-and-pound offense, he played and coached defense before becoming a head coach. Enos was running pro-style stuff at Central Michigan, so he was a natural hire even if the step down in title was unusual. Multiple tight end sets and maybe even I-formation will be on display this weekend.

Enos’s early CMU offenses threw a lot, but he moved to a run percentage in the low 50s by the end of his time there. That remained the case at Arkansas, though the 2015 Razorback offense was mid-50s in part due to some big wins with low pass counts.

Here is how Enos’s run percentage compares to Dan Mullen’s in the same years, and I’m counting sacks as pass plays here. You can see that Mullen’s play calling balance changed considerably across years depending on his quarterback, ranging from a high of almost 66% run to a low of under 43% run. It shows a considerable contrast between the two.

Year Enos Run Pct. Mullen Run Pct. Mullen QB
2010 40.7% 65.8% Relf
2011 39.9% 56.6% Relf/Russell
2012 48.3% 47.8% Russell
2013 50.1% 52.7% Prescott/Russell
2014 53.7% 55.4% Prescott
2015 56.2% 42.6% Prescott
2016 52.2% 54.5% Fitzgerald
2017 53.2% 62.9% Fitzgerald

Mullen went 57.1% run last year, if you’re curious.

Until and unless Florida begins to run away with things, Enos will call a balanced offense with a little more run than pass. It will feel a lot like last year’s Tennessee and Vandy offenses from a personnel and style standpoint, and therefore UF will probably use a good amount of true 3-4 sets along with the base 3-3-5.

Last year when Todd Grantham went 3-4 against pro sets, that meant putting two Bucks on the field at a time. You probably will then see a decent amount of Jonathan Greenard and Jeremiah Moon bookending UF’s defensive front.

Quarterback handling

Since his time at CMU, Enos has not used his quarterbacks to run. They might get three or four non-sack carries per game and average three or four yards per carry on them, but some number of those would be scrambles. Using a running quarterback is just not his thing.

Neither is shuffling quarterbacks. During his time at CMU and Arkansas, only twice did the primary starting quarterback fail to attempt more than 97.7% of passes for the season.

Year Passes Starter Passes SP Pct.
2010 477 466 97.7%
2011 458 453 98.9%
2012 413 407 98.5%
2013 346 312 90.2%
2014 382 382 100.0%
2015 374 370 98.9%
2016 406 401 98.8%
2017 340 187 55.0%

In 2013 the junior starting quarterback went down to injury early in Game 1, and Enos turned to a sophomore to finish things out. He went with freshman Cooper Rush to begin Game 2, and Rush attempted 98.1% of the passes from there on out. In 2017, starter Austin Allen alternately dealt with injuries and limited effectiveness due to those injuries, so he and Cole Kelly split time through the year.

So what does that tell us about Saturday?

If Enos has his druthers, Jarren Williams will go the distance. If you see N’Kosi Perry or Tate Martell swapping drives with Williams, it almost certainly means Manny Diaz is meddling in the personnel choices.

It’s also telling that when Enos described the choice to go with Williams, he cited the quarterback’s “ability to move and extend plays”. Again, if Enos stays true to his past self, that doesn’t mean we’ll see Williams doing read option and carrying the ball a bunch. It more means Miami thinks he is able to compensate for a shaky O-line by avoiding pressure and keeping his eyes downfield.

After all, no one questions that Martell is the best runner of the three quarterbacks. If the Hurricanes wanted their quarterback to carry the ball a lot, he might’ve gotten the nod. That has never been Enos’s style, though, and “excellent passer, very accurate, great touch” were his primary reasons for naming Williams his QB1. Williams probably won’t use his legs often for anything other than extending plays.

Tendencies

Between 2010 and 2018, Mullen’s offenses have about evenly spanned the gamut of sack rate (sacks divided by pass attempts plus sacks) between a low of 3.6% in 2017 to a high of 7.4% in 2010. Between those rates he had three seasons between four and five percent, two between five and six, and two between six and seven.

From 2010 to 2017, Enos only had low and high sack rates. Three of his teams had a sack rate between three and four percent. The other five were at 6.5% or above, with a couple (2013: 8.2%; 2017: 9.3%) above Mullen’s worst sack rate.

In the low seasons, Enos’s offenses collectively averaged a really good sack rate of just 3.6%. In the high seasons, his offenses collectively averaged 7.7%. If you assume 68 plays in a game with a standard Enos run rate of 53%, the low rate implies 1.1 sacks allowed while the high implies 2.5 allowed. No wonder he went with the guy able to extend plays.

Further, the advanced stat profiles for 2015, 2016, and 2017 Arkansas show a real tendency based on situation. It’s a split between standard downs versus passing downs. Passing downs are 2nd & 7 or longer and 3rd or 4th & 5 or longer. Standard downs are anything else. The ranks here are national.

Year SD Run Rate Rank PD Run Rate Rank
2015 65.0% 33 23.2% 119
2016 65.4% 32 28.5% 101
2017 67.1% 27 30.8% 100

On standard downs, Enos ran the ball 65% of the time or more. He was near the top of the nation in running that much in those situations, and he gets even closer if you toss out the triple option teams that run over 90% of the time on standard downs. However on passing downs, he ran the ball 31% of the time or less. He was towards the bottom of the country there.

When able to run or pass, Enos chooses to run more than six in ten times. When down and distance suggests a pass, he will throw seven in ten times or more.

Enos is the consummate defensive head coach’s offensive coordinator. He favors a pro-style scheme that runs more than passes, especially on standard downs. He keeps his quarterback largely in the pocket and doesn’t like to shuffle his signal callers. The only big unknown is whether he took what he learned about RPOs from Locklsey, Gattis and others on Bama’s staff a year ago and will use Williams’s mobility for something other than avoiding sacks.

In the end, though, Enos probably hasn’t radically changed what he’s about. You’re going to get a somewhat creative, if conventional, attack that will go about as far as the talent at hand will take it.

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