Oklahoma football: Behind the offensive mind of Jeff Lebby

The excitement continues to build for the Brent Venables era of Oklahoma football. The same can be said about the addition of Jeff Lebby as the new offensive coordinator.

The general assumption within the Sooner fan base is the defense is going to get better under Venables’ leadership and proven record of success and that the offense, while still highly productive, may take a step back. That’s not Lebby’s vision, however.

Lebby displayed his rising star as an offensive coordinator at Ole Miss for the past two seasons. He brings an exciting, explosive, and highly productive brand of offense to Oklahoma, after demonstrating his mastery at Ole Miss. a team without the depth of talent or offensive weapons that Oklahoma historically has had.

The career path that led Lebby back to Oklahoma (he is an OU graduate) consists of stops at Baylor, Southeastern (Florida)), UCF, and Ole Miss. Before that, Lebby learned the offensive ropes as a student assistant at Oklahoma from 2002-20006.

Unlike under Lincoln Riley, who while serving as head coach of the Sooners also retained his role as offensive coordinator and called all the offensive plays, there was never any hesitation on the part of Venables about having an offensive and defensive coordinator separate from the responsibilities of head coach.

Sep 6, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Mississippi Rebels offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and the players hold up the old leather helmet after winning the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game against the Louisville Cardinals at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Many thought that Oklahoma’s offensive struggles and inconsistencies the past two seasons were largely the result of Riley trying to do too much in serving multiple coaching roles.

Lebby exhibited an offensive explosion during the two seasons he was at Ole Miss, including the development of quarterback Matt Correl into one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and a future first-round draft pick.

“For Lebby going to OU, honestly, it just made me really happy because I know him as a person and what he wanted to do further down the line,” Correl said.

Another popular quarterback name, Dillion Gabriel, was under the tutelage of Jeff Lebby from 2018-2019 while at UCF. The pair hopes to resume their offensive effectiveness at Oklahoma.

While at UCF, Lebby and Gabriel created an explosion in the AAC conference, combining RPOs and an Air Raid attack to keep opposing defenses on their heels.  In 2019, Lebby’s offense finished second in the nation total offense (541.5 yards per game), led by Dillion Gabriel, who was the fresh face of college football at the time.

The Golden Knights finished fifth in the nation in scoring offense (43.4) in the 2019 season, and eighth in passing offense (316.7).

Lebby’s success at UCF brought him to Ole Miss, where he was matched with another offensive mastermind in Rebels’ head coach Lane Kiffin. Lebby’s magic hand immediately touched the Ole Miss offense. In 2020, the Rebels finished third in the nation in total offense (555.9 yards per game), and seventh in the nation in passing offense (344.9 yards per game).

The Ole Miss offensive attack was led by field general Corral, who Lebby inherited and developed into one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and a Heisman contender this past season. In 2021, Ole Miss ranked sixth in the country in total offense (492.5 yards per game. By comparsion, the Oklahoma offense ranked 18th in the nation this past season (450.1 yards per game).

Now, Lebby carries his fast, fearless, and physical offense into Norman, under Brent Venables.

Oklahoma has shown offensive firepower year after year, and Lebby hopes to add on to that armament.

The Sooners bring back key offensive playmakers in WRs Marvin Mims, Theo Wease and Brayden Willis, and RBs Eric Gray, and Marcus Major. The exciting freshmen class will be intriguing to watch under Lebby’s system, especially WR Jayden Gibson and RBs Gavin Sawchuk and Jovantae Barnes.

The anticipation is building for Jeff Lebby, and what all he can accomplish as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma.