CIS Roundtable: 2018 Season Preview - Part 1

CIS Roundtable: 2018 Season Preview - Part 1

Stefan Adams
With the Hurricanes' season just around the corner, and Miami and LSU preparing to do battle on Sunday, it was the perfect time to get some of the CIS staff together to preview the 2018 season in a roundtable format. Here's Part 1 of 2 of how we see the year unfolding for Mark Richt and his Hurricanes.

Q1: What are your expectations for Malik Rosier at QB?

Stefan Adams: Even though I’m the one that posed this question, I don’t think there is a real answer that anybody can confidently get behind looking at this objectively. Yes, every report I’ve gotten is that Malik has been the best QB on the team this fall on Greentree and it hasn’t been that close, and I buy that. However, until proven otherwise, I can only judge by what I’ve seen in real games last season. The truth is, we saw two Malik’s last year, and both were polar opposites. Take a look in the dictionary for the word “beautiful” and you’ll see pictures of the touch throws to Ahmmon Richards down the sidelines at Duke or the throw to Darrell Langham to end FSU. Pair that with his performances in the clutch against FSU and GT, as well as owning the touchdown record in a season for a Miami QB, and you have a QB that has shown he can make plays for this team. On the flip side, Rosier is the same QB that put Miami in the position to have to comeback against FSU in the first place, have to struggle to put away teams like UNC, and was a major part of the loss to Pitt… all because he went long stretches of games without being able to hit on a simple pass to wide open receivers. Miami is telling us that the good Malik will show up more often this season, and we’ll get less of the bad Malik. Show me.

Geo: I would expect Malik to improve at least a bit during this season. Quarterbacks tend to improve the year after their first full rodeo. I would like to see him improve his chemistry and especially the deep ball with his wide receivers, which I felt was sorely lacking last season. I don't think he'll ever be a 60+% completion guy but I don't think we can afford for him to toss 40% ball games again this year in critical games. 30-32 passing TD's, 4-5 rushing TD's. 10 Interceptions.

Roman Marciante: I would like to see Malik Rosier hit around 60% completion and STOP limiting run after the catch potential. Also would like to see Rosier's total interception count move down. Rosier led the ACC last year with 14. Heavy is head that wears the crown and I am sure no one player will be more polarizing than him. Let's be clear here, this team will go as Rosier goes.

Paul Austria: I don’t want to be overly optimistic about a possible huge jump in Rosier’s progress from last year. A jump is possible, but I don’t foresee his completion percentage hitting something crazy like 65%, coming off 54% last season. There will be improvement, as long as the reports out of camp are true and that he’s been putting in that work. Malik is definitely in a good spot to have his completion percentage jump to 60% with 25 TD’s and and maybe 8-9 picks. He’s definitely got a lot more to work with now assuming all his receivers stay healthy.

Matthew Suero: Everybody and their mother has shared their displeasure with Rosier’s play last season, and most of that criticism is justified. With that being said, this is a new season. Rosier now has a year of experience under his belt and has every reason to play with confidence. Call me naive if you want, but I think Rosier will have a better season in 2018 than 2017. I am not expecting Rosier to suddenly become a superstar, but I think we will see 2nd half Malik more than we see first half Malik.

Q2: What do you see as the Canes' biggest strength?

Stefan: It’s the pass rush. Joe Jackson from one end, Jon Garvin from the other, with Gerald Willis penetrating and collapsing the pocket from the middle. C’mon now. A senior that has consistently made plays at Miami in Demetrius Jackson is on the bench and it didn’t even seem like a hard decision for the staff to make; that says a lot. Super freshman Gregory Rousseau has been unblockable in practice and will be able to spell the starters with no tangible drop-off in pass rushing situations. All of these guys will play on Sundays and it will be too much for most O-Lines UM will face this season to handle.

Geo: It's a hard pick between the WR Depth, the experience returning of the DB's and LB's, but I'll go with the defensive backs here. I expect Jaquan Johnson and Michael Jackson to heavily contend for All-American Honors and be in the thick of Thorpe Award race. Everything I have been told and heard on Sheldrick Redwine is that it has come full circle now for him and his best season is in the making. I could see him having an All-Conference caliber season and rising up NFL draft boards due to his size, speed and physicality. I expect Trajan Bandy and Amari Carter to make sophomore jumps this season and Bandy could really prove he can play outside as he showed in high school. Jhavonte Dean has turned the corner in the ending days of fall camp and could be a surprise big contributor this season with his length and speed. I expect freshmen like DJ Ivey, Gurvan Hall, Gilbert Frierson and Al Blades Jr. to make their mark on special teams first and become dependable rotational guys by the end of the year, building into potential starting players for the 2019 season.

Roman: The skill positions on offense. I think the WR depth is loaded and one of the deepest and fastest I've seen here in quite a while. Guys like Richards, Cager, Thomas, Harley, Langham, now add the young guns like Pope and Hightower? I am blushing. The running back stable is thoroughbred laden as well. Ultimately, I think the offensive skill position depth has definitely taken a few steps forward in the Mark Richt Era.

Paul: The team’s biggest strength has to lie in their playmakers on offense. At running back, I can definitely see Travis Homer taking two giant leaps forward. Full off-season of first-team reps, a stable offensive line, what else do you need? Receiving corps is very solid and balanced as well, especially with that depth AND the freshmen, and now all eyes are on Brevin Jordan to show us that the hype is real.

Matthew: If you have a 5th year senior who will likely go to the NFL and he is your 4th best pass rushing defensive end, it’s a pretty safe but that pass rushing will be your team's strength. Miami will be able to line up three future first round draft picks at defensive end. Also, Gerald Willis is a beast who has finally put it all together. Mix that with the ability to bring Demetrius Jackson or one of the other defensive ends in at DT next to Willis is just scary. If you get stuck in 3rd and long against Miami, I will be praying for your QB.

Q3: What do you see as the Canes' most glaring weakness?

Stefan: For me, it’s corner. There are only three returnees at a spot where this staff has shown they like to go at least 5 deep, and one of those returnees did not have a good season last year in Jhavonte Dean. Dean has the physical talent and by all reports has improved, but even if that’s true, UM will likely be giving snaps to two true freshmen at corner in an age where passing offenses are more dominant and sophisticated than ever. I trust coach Rumph to get the most out of his guys and players like DJ Ivey, Al Blades, and Gilbert Frierson have talent, but the idea that they have a limited understanding of the defense and could easily blow a coverage at any time is concerning to me.

Geo: I think Miami's most glaring weakness is the elephant in the room, 3rd down conversion rate. A mixture between Rosier's inaccuracy and the O-Line’s spotty play at times last season kept Miami in a bind when it came towards sustaining drives. Miami is a quick hitter team on offense with a fast and physical defense, but the short drives and 3 and outs will gas the defense as we saw vs Clemson last season. Miami must improve on sustaining drives if they want duplicate last year’s success or get better this year. That starts with better tackle play and more consistency from Rosier.

Roman: I'm concerned with the DT depth. I think losing McIntosh and Norton really set the Canes back and caught the coaches off guard. You couple that with the fact Mr. "Meet at the QB" was checked out and fell asleep behind the wheel recruiting wise, you are left with less optimal depth. A saving grace, I think Manny Diaz gets creative this year and moves DE's inside on third downs. That would help the depth in a selective capacity.

Paul: If it had to be a position, I’d probably say the offensive line. Only because if any team finds a way to penetrate and wear our guys down, that leads to pressure on Rosier in the pocket as well as Homer not being able to find holes, with the former holding a vast amount of importance. The priority should be getting Rosier as comfortable as he can in the pocket so the mistakes are limited. All in all, that’s my worry, but the good thing is that the O-Line has been consistent throughout camp and coach Searels has done a great job of getting the most out of his unit.

Matthew: The talent on the starting offensive line is not up to par. The most glaring weakness is at the two guard positions. Hayden Mahoney and Jahair Jones have proven to be the best options Miami has at guard, but that is not because of overall talent. Those two players will start because they know what to do on every play and the newcomers do not. Knowing what to do and actually doing it are two very different things: they will know what to do, but will they have the physical ability to do it? I do not know the answer to that question and honestly, I’m a little worried.

Q4: Who's your breakout player on Offense and why?

Stefan: The answer is DeeJay Dallas. Yes, Travis Homer is RB1 and will handle the majority of the carries; however, in this day and age, you have to have two guys that you can trust to tote the rock to keep each one fresh. Dallas proved he is ready for a larger role after flashing in spot duty last season and Miami has made active efforts to expand his usage in their offense, whether that be as a running back or in the slot at receiver or at wildcat quarterback. With a full year under his belt to learn the system, get more comfortable at RB, and adjust to college football, I think the sky is the limit for the versatile Dallas this season.

Geo: I’m going to go with someone who I felt was maybe a bit undervalued last year to an extent and that’s Jeff Thomas. I believe Jeff and Malik (Rosier) will have better timing and chemistry this year, which will help Jeff get more targets his way. Jeff, from a stat metric I saw during the off-season, had the highest separation rate of any Miami WR in over a decade. More experience and battle tested now, I think Jeff is going to have a big season and can free up Ahmmon Richards off of predictable double coverage and open up Miami's passing game.

Roman: Travis Homer. Homer had a 5.93 yards per rush last year (4th best ACC average among running backs). I sang his praises last year and thought the offense gained a home run back when he took over the reins. Now you add legitimate depth behind which can keep him fresh? I think you will see a lot more Super Saiyan touchdown celebrations this year.

Paul: Jeff Thomas. With Ahmmon Richards back healthy as ever and Lawrence Cager taking up the other side as he’s too big of a target for the defense to avoid, opportunities will open up for Thomas in the slot. There’s no second-guessing his explosiveness and after a strong camp in which he has earned the starting nod for the season opener, we can only imagine what Jeff has in store. He probably could’ve had 2 or 3 more touchdowns last year had he not gotten a couple of underthrows from Rosier. I fully expect him to hit at least 600 yards this season.

Matthew: There were about seven different players that I could have chosen here, but I am going to go with Will Mallory. Mallory is being slept on a little bit with Brevin Jordan getting so much attention, but I think Mallory could really exploit defenses in the David Njoku role. Mallory will be a matchup nightmare for almost every defensive player Miami will face this year. There are not many linebackers who can keep up with a guy like Mallory and there are not many defensive backs with the size to defend him. Mallory will keep defensive coordinators up at night and will destroy teams when he lines up in the slot.

Q5: Who's your breakout player on Defense and why?

Stefan: My defensive breakout player this season is Jon Garvin. Like I mentioned earlier, Miami could have started Demetrius Jackson as the #2 DE and nobody would have batted an eye. Instead, Garvin has exploded this off-season and forced the coaches hands, handily taking the job for himself. He’s evolved his game from simply a pass rushing specialist to a guy you can trust on every down, putting on the necessary weight and size without sacrificing speed. Good luck to any offensive line trying to stop him this season.

Geo: Jonathan Garvin. I believe Jon Garvin has a strong chance to be Miami's first double-digit sack recorder in quite a while. Garvin has put on the weight and muscle to become a 3 down defensive end and is much more prepared to play the run now.

Roman: I think the jury is out. Jaquan Johnson. Hard to argue after seeing all the preseason accolades he has received thus far. Who am I to argue with the experts? Give me JJ all day.

Paul: My breakout player on defense is big ol’ Gerald Willis. He’s finally going to get his shot at showing why he was so hyped up when he transferred to Coral Gables from UF. After a year behind the scenes as a member of the scout team (in which he was basically unblockable), he should at least somewhat ease the task of replacing RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton.

Matthew: Just like on offense, there are a ton of guys that I could have picked here. Gerald Willis is the obvious choice, but I have to pick Jhavonte Dean here. Dean is a senior in his second year at Miami since coming over from JUCO. That second year jump could turn into a bit of a skid at times, but I’m going to trust coach Rumph’s track record at coaching up big corners. Dean should have a better understanding of the defense since it is his second year, and he should have a sense of urgency seeing that it is his final year of eligibility. All signs point to a big year from the Homestead native.

Comments (14)

Jeff thomas:img-0076c:
He’s going to have a great season. It’s hard for any db to cover him period

Hopefully we see a lot of this
Great job guys with the analysis. Hard to argue the points taken for both offense and defense viewpoints. I wish you would’ve done a win-loss record and why piece; maybe that comes with the 2nd part of the series...
Rosier should be better. He’s got a lot of weapons at WR, but who’s going to be that guy. Berrios bailed him out a ton last year, caught everything thrown at him. Who’s the guy that Rosier leans on when it’s 3rd or 4th and 6 and it’s all on the line? We got a lot of WRs with potential, and as JJ once said, “potential just means you ain’t done nothin’ yet”.
I'll put in my 2 cents:

Expectations for Rosier: Better numbers across the board and less inconsistent play. Close to 60% passing, 30 passing TDs and 10 picks.

Biggest strength: The secondary. So much experience there. Three seniors starting with a senior as our third CB. Not to mention the PT that Carter and Derrick Smith got last year.

Glaring weakness: DT depth. First, I'm not sure if Bethel is right for NT, but he's the best option we have there so we gotta ride with him. Behind him and Willis there's just a bunch of questions. That position doesn't make me confident.

Breakout player on offense: Deejay. Looking forward to him being used more in our offense. Richt didn't really take advantage of his skillset until after the UNC game, and even then I feel like we could've gotten more out of Deejay.

Breakout player on defense: In a previous thread I said Derrick Smith, but it appears he's been passed up by Romeo Finley at Striker. So I'll change my vote to Garvin. We only saw a little bit of what he can do last year. With increased PT I expect Garvin to leave his mark on a lot of games.
My expectations for Malik is be more consistent throwing the rock. He’s a gamer and with increased accuracy he will create some buzz.

Biggest strength is probably the D line with Willis, Jackson, Garvin and Fr. Rousseau. The RB spot is a close 2nd as I believe Homer, Dallas and Choc will be that “three headed monster”.

The most glaring weakness will again be the O line. This is why the RB’s didn’t come first on the previous question despite the being the most talented.

DJ Dallas will be the breakout player because he will touch the ball often. Hoping it’s Malik.

This is the toughest question yet because you have to discount previous breakout players, Both JJ’s, Garvin is proven, and MJ is a stud. I have to go with Trajan Bandy as I see his ceiling being very high along with being a starter. I’m hoping it’s the LB unit as a whole. They get praise from this fan base and national media but I just haven’t seen it quite yet ,however, I do believe in them.
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Malik: He’s been bashed enough, so I’m just gonna lay off. Just please don’t lose us any games.

Biggest strength: WR core. Too deep and talented to pick any other unit.

Glaring weakness: QB

Offense breakout: Lawerence Cager. That combination of size and speed is lethal, and you can’t really double him or AR will torch you (side note: rewatching last year’s games, AR just gets open, always) He missed a few opportunities last year and I don’t think that happens again.

Defense breakout: Redwine. I’ve been as critical as anyone about Red. I thought he took bad angles and was out of position too often. But a combination of positive camp reports and experience have me very hopeful. I have to imagine the communication in our secondary will be greatly improved this year - Red was a CB, MJ was a reserve, Bandy was a FR. With a while off-season together, they should have it figured out and I think Red becomes the major beneficiary of that.
I actually think Rosier’s TD number goes down, but not because he hasn’t improved. Once he proves he can hit his targets, our running game will magically open up. The run game will score more TDS, and we will see less Rosier late in games as I expect to see more blowouts.
Not here but people keep saying Rosier’s completion percentage needs to be at least 60%.
Dorsey’s was only 57.9% going into the Rose Bowl in the championship season. And that was behind perhaps the greatest offensive line ever.
Rosier should be better. He’s got a lot of weapons at WR, but who’s going to be that guy. Berrios bailed him out a ton last year, caught everything thrown at him. Who’s the guy that Rosier leans on when it’s 3rd or 4th and 6 and it’s all on the line? We got a lot of WRs with potential, and as JJ once said, “potential just means you ain’t done nothin’ yet”.

We can spin the Rosier wheel all we want...but it simply comes down to pass protection and improving in run blocking to take pressure off of a QB that may always be inconsistent.

I expect Malik to improve, sure, but he is simply a guy that needs a clean pocket much more than other QBs...and even then he is no guarantee.

Again, I hope he makes me eat those words this year and takes a huge leap forward.

Watched a bunch of post-practice interviews last night, including one with Malik from I think 8.28. Dude seems like the light totally came on. I think he's going to surprise some people.

He has the ability and just needs consistency. He's had all offseason to digest and iterate. I'm not saying he lights it up, but I think we'll collectively be pleasantly surprised.