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Barry, Stubblefield talk offense

Barry, Stubblefield talk offense

Stefan Adams
Butch Barry is preparing for his first season at the helm of the Miami Hurricanes’ offensive line and, with a roster of players he didn’t recruit, is attempting to build a culture from the ground up that focuses mainly on togetherness and toughness.

“As a group, there’s always things you can correct. The biggest thing I wanted to see was guys playing together. Because we’re shuffling guys around, trying to find the best five, and play with effort and toughness,” Barry said. “We talk a lot, as offensive linemen, you have to be smart, tough and dependable. We’re not going to stop talking about that, because we have to be that. And our effort and toughness have to always be there. To play O-Line, that’s the key. That was the biggest thing that I wanted to see. We had flashes of it. There were flashes where it wasn’t. Where there wasn’t flashes, we need to get that caught up to speed.”

The biggest story on the offensive line and probably the entire team this offseason has been the rise of true freshman OT Zion Nelson. A lightly recruited and undersized lineman from South Carolina, Nelson has improved his body by gaining 50 pounds since enrolling in January and he has fought his way to the top of the depth chart at left tackle.

“He’s been playing with effort and toughness, number one,” Barry said. “Number two is he’s got good athleticism and good length. That’s a premium for a tackle.”

While the Canes have mostly left Nelson untouched on the first unit at left tackle, Barry has taken a more liberal approach to finding a first-team right tackle, rotating John Campbell, Kai-Leon Herbert, and Zalon’tae Hillery at the spot to try and find someone that’s ready to step up.

“We have a lot of guys we’re shuffling there,” Barry said of right tackle. “I have to find the five best. There’s a lot of moving parts right now. We have some guys who are battling and competing, but we’re trying to find the five best.”

Redshirt sophomore Corey Gaynor has been considered Miami’s center of the future going on two-plus years now, and Barry sees a guy that’s eager to perform.

“It’s been good. He gives us what he can, every time. I always appreciate that,” Barry said of Gaynor. “I think that’s a positive with him, and playing with effort and toughness. He is showing that. He wants to take on a leadership role within that room, and we need him to keep embracing that.”

At first-team right guard is sophomore DJ Scaife. As someone who mostly played right tackle as a freshman and this spring, Scaife was moved to the interior this fall mostly because Barry believes it will benefit the line as a whole.

“I want to be able to put them in their best position, but I also have to find the five best that work together because at the end of the day our offensive line has to be connected as one.”


**New WR coach Taylor Stubblefield is taking over a group of physically talented receivers that struggled with drops last season. The problem was a little better, but remained through the spring, and although the receivers have done some good things this fall, Stubblefield has made clear he is still not satisfied with their play overall.

“We’re going to strain, strain, strain. Our standard, the Miami standard, won’t be compromised,” Stubblefield said. “We’re going to continue to push for it, we’re going to continue to demand it, and we’re going to get there.”

How did he see his group perform in the scrimmage on Sunday?

“We were limited on our YAC yards,” Stubblefield said. “That’s one thing - we design plays to get a certain amount of yards and yes, that’s great, you got them, that’s efficient and all that good stuff… but when you’re evaluating the play, even in recruiting, you’re looking for things like guys can catch the ball, his route-running, but one thing that stands out is, who can make plays? Who has that play-making ability? We need to continue to improve on that. Whether it be getting dirty yards after a catch or whether that be making somebody miss and winning an open-field tackling contest and create some more.”

When discussing which of his players took a jump this summer, Stubblefield felt that each of his players saw improvement, but pointed to two in particular that really have caught his eye.

“Mike Harley put on 15 pounds and lost body fat. KJ Osborn put on some pounds; all of my guys improved somehow,” Stubblefield said.

Junior Jeff Thomas is probably Miami’s most talented WR, but he had a rocky 2018 season that ended with him leaving the team for the final two games. Stubblefield knows that getting Thomas to a mental place that relies on consistently staying focused will be a key to his group’s success this year.

“I try not to have my head buried in the sand so I’m not oblivious to things. I know that the relationship has to continue to be built, but I think that we are on the right path. I think that he is starting to trust me. I think I have been consistent with what I’ve said,” Stubblefield said of Thomas. “I’ve been consistent with my actions and that’s what I ask of all of them as well. I’m going to communicate to you guys and you guys communicate to me. I want you guys to trust me, but you guys should want me to trust you as a well. That’s all part of this relationship building and we’re working on it every day. We’re going to challenge the heck out of Jeff.”

Redshirt sophomore Evidence Njoku has dealt with injury issues as well as struggles to adapt to the college game since coming to Miami, but Stubblefield believes he is one of the more physically talented players on the team.

“Evidence, you look at his physique he’s a good-looking specimen,” Stubblefield said. “Just constant daily reminders of improving his skill as a receiver. We know he’s athletic, we just have to continue to improve his skill at the wide receiver position.”

In offensive coordinator Dan Enos’ new offense, Stubblefield sees UM’s attack being very receiver-friendly going forward.

“It’s fun to be in this offense,” Stubblefield said. “If you’re a receiver, you want to play in this offense because of the resume you’re going to build.”
 

Comments (17)

I think Enos/Barry are embracing OT being the weakspot by keeping Scaife at his natural position at OG and running a lot of 12 personnel. A lot of people here including myself had Scaife playing OT for at least the beginning of the season. The assumption was one of the guards outside of Donaldson would perform well enough to allow Scaife to kick out. So either that didn't happen or they are set on playing people in their natural roles and developing them and/or scheming to help them. It would be refreshing to get a way from over a decade of the "best 5 mentality" when we are constantly shuffling OL. It shows the coaches are confident they'll get the best out each player at each position.
 
I am confident the OL is going to be much better than last season by mid season this year. May not look like a lot of improvement ths first game but they will not
see a better defense the,rest of the regular season. Sad no warm up game before the crocs
 
Could you imagine if young Zion actually just steps in and becomes 'that' guy?

The talent on the outside and the backfield is not the issue(no matter what anyone says based on last year).
 
I like Stubblefield the more he talks. He had the college resume. Holding Thomas accountable helps him more than he even knows! I like that he is big on communication with the guys...
Agreed. He’s just a classic no BS and everything with him is white and black. More of an nfl style.
 
I think Enos/Barry are embracing OT being the weakspot by keeping Scaife at his natural position at OG and running a lot of 12 personnel. A lot of people here including myself had Scaife playing OT for at least the beginning of the season. The assumption was one of the guards outside of Donaldson would perform well enough to allow Scaife to kick out. So either that didn't happen or they are set on playing people in their natural roles and developing them and/or scheming to help them. It would be refreshing to get a way from over a decade of the "best 5 mentality" when we are constantly shuffling OL. It shows the coaches are confident they'll get the best out each player at each position.
I think they are wanting to make sure that interior line is secure and not a liability. If Gaynor takes the step forward we think he can, the trio of Donaldson, Gaynor, and Scaife on the inside has potential to be a pretty good trio. Gaynor doesn't need to be All-ACC caliber with those two guys beside him. If he can just perform his duties and not be a liability then that interior line can become a real strength for the offense, especially against the Coastal DL's we'll see.

Having a strong interior line opens up more in the run game and I think edge pressure is easier to counter and limit than pressure right up the gut. You can aid the tackles in pass protection through TE help, RB help, the QB can step up in the pocket, etc. If the interior line is weak and there is constant pressure up the gut, the QB cannot step up to avoid that, he can't just throw with guys in his face constantly.

I think they've made the decision to have that strong interior line to make sure the run game can be more consistent than what we've seen the last few years and to minimize the pressure up the middle. Maybe Zion is that dude, maybe not, it's "easier" to manage the rush coming off of the edges compared to having your interior constantly collapsing.
 
I think Enos/Barry are embracing OT being the weakspot by keeping Scaife at his natural position at OG and running a lot of 12 personnel. A lot of people here including myself had Scaife playing OT for at least the beginning of the season. The assumption was one of the guards outside of Donaldson would perform well enough to allow Scaife to kick out. So either that didn't happen or they are set on playing people in their natural roles and developing them and/or scheming to help them. It would be refreshing to get a way from over a decade of the "best 5 mentality" when we are constantly shuffling OL. It shows the coaches are confident they'll get the best out each player at each position.

You can scheme around mediocre tackles (bad tackles are a different story), but there is no scheme that can win if the interior linemen are getting driven into the qb every play. That means no inside run game and the qb cant step into throws. I agree with building inside out. Put best OL on the interior and hope like hell that one of the OTs ends up being at least adequate.
 
You can scheme around mediocre tackles (bad tackles are a different story), but there is no scheme that can win if the interior linemen are getting driven into the qb every play. That means no inside run game and the qb cant step into throws. I agree with building inside out. Put best OL on the interior and hope like hell that one of the OTs ends up being at least adequate.

It has been said in other threads they are running two tight end sets and fb sets. I suspect this to help with the known weakenesses in the I OL
 
They need to get it settled, the O-line has to play together to get that cohecivness, last year that never stopped, they rotated guys all season and it showed.

I'm going to take Manny at his word that this week is going to be the week that sets things up. But if rotating the RT makes it to game week, that's never a good way to start a season.

But again, with the three inside, if one of the backs like Cam gets a hot start and we start moving the ball well on 1st and 2nd down, it will help cover the OTs.
 
Really don’t know what to expect out of this OL. I am going to go ahead and lower my expectations and hope to be pleasantly surprised.
 
I found Stubblefield’s comments about Jeff Thomas to be interesting. It’s not like he emphasized that Thomas is very coachable and eager to learn. Rather my take on his diplomatic response was that several months later it’s still a work in progress and he wants Thomas to completely buy in.

From reading previously about Thomas’ alleged flare ups with the prior staff / Dugans I’m hoping there’s no repeat of those events (notwithstanding his likely being rightfully frustrated at times with the prior system).

Thomas is an undeniably talented player in probably his last year at UM. Hopefully he’s focused, ready to go, and will be a great undistracted “team” player and contributor for us this year.
 
Really don’t know what to expect out of this OL. I am going to go ahead and lower my expectations and hope to be pleasantly surprised.
I guess I don't see much reason to worry. We all know they are a weak point on the team...a position that still has to be built up and developed over this coming season and next season. However, there is no reason to believe they will be worse than last year. So take last year's bad line, and put them in a system where their flaws are less exposed by the bad play calling, and they should be serviceable..thus the results should be better than last year.
 
Wondering why everyone assumes JT is leaving after this season. Fresh off quitting the team, and his past similar problems, he’s going to need to string together a couple great seasons along with being a model citizen and teammate just to get drafted in the 4th round.

If he leaves after this season, he’ll probably go undrafted given the massive baggage.
 
I guess I don't see much reason to worry. We all know they are a weak point on the team...a position that still has to be built up and developed over this coming season and next season. However, there is no reason to believe they will be worse than last year. So take last year's bad line, and put them in a system where their flaws are less exposed by the bad play calling, and they should be serviceable..thus the results should be better than last year.


OL suffer or flourish in a system as much as any other position. i completely agree with you. there is NO WAY any position on offense will be worse than last year. that is rather impossible. these guys (except Zion) were all 4 star players. they don't just come to miami and suck all of a sudden. they were all put in bad situations in an awful system. Enos will scheme around what he has and all these kids will benefit from it. they'll be fine. it will take a few games to really gel and become a cohesive unit, but they will be fine. against florida we'll chip guys with a TE or a RB and help out Zion if he is struggling.
 

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