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Diaz sees overall offensive improvement, but no QB standing out yet

Diaz sees overall offensive improvement, but no QB standing out yet

Stefan Adams
Miami head coach Manny Diaz spoke to the media after Monday’s practice, first focusing on the quarterback competition that is going on at Greentree. Between sophomore Tate Martell, sophomore N’Kosi Perry, and redshirt freshman Jarren Williams, Diaz feels he is still waiting for one to really take charge and become a consistent performer over multiple days.

“Like I said, we’re in a battle. If we sit there and try to make an assumption off of one good throw or one bad throw, or one good day and one bad day, that’s not the point,” Diaz said. “I can look at the last three and a half years and I can show you a good day of a quarterback and a bad day of a quarterback. To me, it’s about being consistently good. That’s why it’s silly to make an assessment off a drill or a throw or whatever.

“There are all kinds of guys in college football who make good throws, or have a good quarter, or heck, even have a good game. This is the University of Miami. Our standards are so far beyond that. We need a guy that can bring it every week, that the whole team can trust every week. The only way we can replicate that is coming at it from the long term, bringing it every day over the course of the month of August.”

Responding to a question about potentially starting the season with co-starters at quarterback, Diaz shot down the notion and says UM is looking for one guy to lead the team.

“Until we can find out a way to have two footballs on the field at one time it’s hard to have co-starters at quarterback,” Diaz said. “Right now, that’s not even our thoughts. We’re trying to find out what we’ve got and where we’re at.”

In the backfield, the Canes have been rotating junior DeeJay Dallas and sophomore Cam Harris on the first team at running back. Battling for the #3 role right now is Robert Burns and Lorenzo Lingard, both of whom had injury issues in the spring. Lingard has mainly worked with the scout team thus far as he works his way back from knee surgery last October.

“Robert Burns showed up in the spring and made some really good runs that made us think that he’s a guy that, like you said, we feel like we really haven’t seen all that he can do,” Diaz said. “He gives us a power back, a different dimension than some of the other guys we have. I’m kind of excited to watch him run. I know our guys on defense notice when [number] 22 has the ball.

“And then Lingard is really progressing. He has been able to do everything other than the team periods. A lot of it at this point is mental, just getting confidence in his cuts. I’m looking forward to seeing our running back room improve, and I imagine that development won’t stop in August. As we go through the course of the season, I think we’ll keep seeing those guys grow and roles change.”

Aside from about an hour working in the indoor practice facility because of a lightning warning, Miami has mostly practiced outside on Greentree over the first 4 days of camp. Diaz says that’s by design to push the team harder with the heat as a factor.

“It’s hot in Gainesville and it’s hot everywhere else now. Where we’re going is that we need this every day,” Diaz said. “We have to take this team to a place where we really find out what we have. If we pat everybody on the back and say, ‘Hey, here’s a sticker on your forehead, you survived one day,’ then that’s not getting us anywhere.

“It’s the idea of making it hard every day and finding out who really wants to fight to improve themselves every day. We won’t have an answer to that, and that’s why you can’t evaluate any position on our team until we find out who they are when we get into the dog days of camp… You’re going to find that out when everybody’s mind starts to feel sorry for themselves. It might be tomorrow, might be mid-next week. That’s when we’re going to find out. Right now everybody still feels good. `Oh my arm is sore, my legs are sore,’ then we’ll find out who.”

One of the big areas of intrigue so far has been at offensive tackle, where Miami is currently starting two players (LT Zion Nelson and RT Kai-Leon Herbert) that have virtually no college experience. Diaz says he is pushing both players to see how bad they want it.

“We think they’ve got the skill set to do it,” Diaz said. “A guy like Zion, his upside is limitless. We don’t know anything yet. We have to put everybody into a spot where they’re not sure they want to do this anymore. And then when we have that happen, we’ll find out what we’ve got.”

How does he see the offense overall at this point?

“Compared to where we were even on April 20, we’re executing at such a different level than we were,” Diaz said. “Our understanding in the passing game, what routes to run, how to run them - in the spring we were struggling to get lined up. You can tell the work the guys did in the summertime and you’re starting to see now some guys’ natural ability starting to show. And everybody is playing in my mind at a higher level around the quarterback than they did on our best day in spring practice, which is encouraging.”

The competition at defensive end has been particularly fierce, and Diaz likes what he’s seen from freshman Jahfari Harvey thus far.

“Great get-off, great burst, has good instincts and he can bend,” Diaz said. “We have some defensive ends that are a problem, and Jahfari is one of them.”

Talking about the newcomers at defensive tackle, Diaz feels the athleticism they’ve brought to the interior would be hard to match anywhere else.

“If anyone signed three more athletic defensive tackles than we did I’d love to see them,” Diaz said. “(Jared) Hunte, (Jason) Blissett, (Jalar) Holley - they can do some things. And (Chigozie) Nnoruka. We’ve got some guys that we think can be special.”

The coaches have been burning the midnight oil evaluating film and trying to tailor reps based on their results.

“We were here until 1 [o’clock] in the morning on Saturday night, I think. It’s all about reps. We have got some depth, and we can get a lot of guys reps,” Diaz said. “Of course, we’re trying to give the quarterbacks as many reps as possible, so working in two spots is something, as long as we’ve got enough guys that we can do it, we’ll be doing all of camp. It’s great for our young guys. Young freshman defensive linemen are getting a lot of reps, it’s really beneficial for them, as well.”

Both punter Louis Hedley and WR Jeff Thomas were banged up during practice today, but Diaz said he had no update on their status. Thomas in particular returned to the sidelines after being checked out by trainers.
 

Comments (28)

Diaz has been incredibly impressive so far. It’s honestly amazing how much of a different coach he is then the last 4 guys. It’s not even close. You just hear the urgency and drive he has in everything he does. Hoping it translates to the field as a whole. His D was always fun to watch. Can’t wait for week 1!
 
So glad he's coaching this team rather than many posting here. People who either named the starter before fall practice even began and/or stated how certain they were that somebody would transfer and so on.
 
Push to the limits. Is only going to make this team stronger. No pat on the back and helmet sticker for a good play. Love it. Keep pushing it to the limit.
 
Diaz has been incredibly impressive so far. It’s honestly amazing how much of a different coach he is then the last 4 guys. It’s not even close. You just hear the urgency and drive he has in everything he does. Hoping it translates to the field as a whole. His D was always fun to watch. Can’t wait for week 1!
He’s believable. You just know that he gets it.
 
“It’s the idea of making it hard every day and finding out who really wants to fight to improve themselves every day. We won’t have an answer to that, and that’s why you can’t evaluate any position on our team until we find out who they are when we get into the dog days of camp… You’re going to find that out when everybody’s mind starts to feel sorry for themselves. It might be tomorrow, might be mid-next week. That’s when we’re going to find out. Right now everybody still feels good. `Oh my arm is sore, my legs are sore,’ then we’ll find out who.”

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Y’all better stop acting like Robert Burns wasn’t one of the best backs in the country coming out of his high school class. Dude is a tank on steroids just want him to stay healthy so I can see him hurt somebody on the other team.
Agree, after his sophomore year the kid looked like he was on his way to being a 5 star but was injured basically his whole junior and senior year and has been injured on and off since coming to UM. But like you said if he’s finally healthy then look out because no one in that running back room can match his combo of size and speed.
 
Y’all better stop acting like Robert Burns wasn’t one of the best backs in the country coming out of his high school class. Dude is a tank on steroids just want him to stay healthy so I can see him hurt somebody on the other team.

If burns stays healthy, he's going to be a problem, but credit coach feely if he does hit the field!
 

2022 Commits

WR
6'2"
185
Nashville, TN
OLB
6'1"
195
Miami, FL
CB
6'0"
160
Lexington, MS
QB
6'4"
205
Valdosta, GA
CB
6'1"
175
Fort Myers, FL
S
6'1"
170
Orlando, FL
WR
6'1"
185
Mandeville, LA
MLB
6'1"
210
Manvel, TX
OT
6'7"
275
Sandersville, GA

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