The Kendal Briles rumor mill has had more on-again / off-again moments than Zach Morris and Kelly Kapowski. After Brett McMurphy reported that the younger Briles was in line to be Miami’s offensive coordinator, rumors circled (below) that KB was staying at Arkansas.
Now, with Jason Candle turning down the offer (the morning after I write my piece on him, of course), the focus returns on Mr. Briles. Briles is a Texas native who played for the Texas Longhorns (2001-2002) and Houston Cougars (2003-2005).
In 2008, Briles joined his father’s coaching staff at Baylor as the inside wide receivers coach and offensive recruiting coordinator. Briles was a fast riser on his father’s staff, moving to Passing Game Coordinator by 2011, and offensive coordinator by 2015.
After Art Briles was fired at Baylor due to controversy, Kendal resurfaced as Florida Atlantic University. Briles was only at FAU for the 2017 season, where he served as the OC of the Owls. In 2018, Briles was the OC at Houston, before moving on to serve as OC at Florida State for the 2019 season, and then to the Razorbacks as OC from 2020-present.
Kendal Briles has been the offense-saver at every stop throughout his career. Even at Baylor, where Briles was already on staff, he pulled Baylor from 11th in SP+ up to 3rd in 2015. In 2016, with Jim Grobe as head coach, the Bears dipped to 40th in SP+ offense.
Upon arriving in Boca Raton, FL to be the OC of the FAU Owls, Briles took the nation’s 69th offense in SP+ up to 30th. At Houston, Briles moved the 43rd ranked offense to 20th. At FSU with no offensive line to speak of, Briles improved the ‘Noles offense from 97th to 49th which is no small feat.
Since arriving at Arkansas under Sam Pittman, Briles moved the 105th ranked offense per SP+ up to 54th, and then 32nd. The Razorbacks scored just under 10 points per game more in ‘21 than in ‘19 under Chad Morris.
Unlike most of his stops, Briles would be walking into an offensive structure in Coral Gables he typically hasn’t had the pleasure of finding. He replaces a similar style’d OC in Rhett Lashlee. While Miami’s offense isn’t quite as efficient as Baylor in ‘15, it has a stud QB in Tyler Van Dyke behind center.
Unlike Jason Candle, Briles isn’t known for having a feature back that carries the load in his 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end) offense. Briles works faster than Candle, preferring a hurry up no huddle more often than Candle or Lashlee.
But you can’t argue with Briles efficiency. The Hogs spread the ball to three backs plus the QB and 23 rushing TD’s from that foursome.
The Briles offense has been adaptable. Remember when Baylor beat UNC in a bowl game without an actual QB? Has Briles taken advantage of mobile QB’s? Sure. KJ Jefferson could tote the rock, but Briles has adapted to a lack of OL, a lack of a feature back, and the lack of a mobile QB in the past.
Explosive plays is the name of the game. The backs averaged over 5-yards per carry, and WR Treylon Burks averaged 16.7 yards per catch with 11 TD’s. In ‘20, WR Mike Woods averaged over 19 yards per catch.
The Briles Offense
Kendal Briles hasn’t just been effective under his father’s tutelage, or in a particular conference, he’s been effective in the Big 12, AAC, and SEC… and while his work at FSU wasn’t fantastic, it was much better than prior to his arrival.
Above– Mental Toughness isn’t 300’s or puking from burpees. It’s how you respond under duress in real game situations. So the goal of practice is to make the situation and stress as close to a game-like situation as possible. This is an example of a lack of MT on this play. MT is specific, not general. Now the next question is to watch how Jefferson and the offense respond. Are they going to react, or respond? How resilient are they after failure?
Above– Be still my heart. 4th and 1 and Briles lines up under center but in an empty set. MAKE YOUR OPPONENT COVER THE ENTIRE FIELD. Lighten the box but also make them cover your receivers. And BTW, they picked up the 1st down.
Above– RPO with the bubble tagged on. Nice, easy, fluid pick up on 3rd down. Nothing too complex. Just a pitch and catch.
Above– Two whip routes (slant in and zig out) and an arrow (or slide) from the inside guy. Coverage here is TOUGH to keep with. A lot of talking, a lot of switching. Briles like Candle is forcing the DB’s to trade off which they really hate doing.
Above– Again, like Candle, post-wheel making DB’s switch and this WR knew he had it before it even looks like it came open.
Above– Flirting with the Wake Forest walk up mesh on inside zone.
Above– back in the empty, quads, bunchy sideline formation. This time Jefferson likes the solo WR. He cuts off his route and with a little push off grabs the throw for a TD. 3rd and 1 and not a predictable thing in sight.
Above– Briles dialing up ways to get Burks 1-on-1 at least in a short window. He’s successful on 3rd and 6 with a simple fade.
Above– Mesh with #1 running a fade. All of the action in the middle frees up the outside WR into a 1-on-1.
Could I have chosen the games against UGA or LSU where the Hogs struggled on offense? Sure. I chose this Bama game to show how the game plan really worked and how Briles’ offense scored against one of the best defenses in the country.
With Briles’ baggage, Miami fans have to have faith that Mario Cristobal and Dan Radakovich are doing their due diligence in the vetting process. Briles has been hired at other stops, but those stops were FAU, Houston, FSU and Arkansas. Those schools have hired some questionable names, such as: Lane Kiffin, Art Briles, Jeremy Pruitt (as DC), Rick Trickett (OL) Tom Herman, and Bobby Petrino.
I might not trust the vetting of those programs, but I do trust the vetting at the University of Miami. Mario Cristobal especially has seen some of the best and worst, and really seems to hire guys that he can trust, that keep their nose clean, and that are family men (Alex Mirabal, Aaron Feld).