Fall Camp Intel: Offense

Stefan Adams
14 min read
After three weeks of fall practice and three intra-team scrimmages, it's now LSU week. We gathered up all the intel we've been hearing from camp and broke it down to give you an idea of what to expect in terms of who will likely be in the rotation against LSU to start the season, and who has work to do to see legitimate playing time in 2018. We'll start today with the offense.


What we want to hear: UM has another QB they can trust if Malik Rosier can't hack it.

What we’re hearing: If you’ve been following the team consistently over camp you already know, but there has not been a real competition for QB1. Rosier has taken the vast majority of the reps with the first team, and the competition wasn’t really that open, but it is obvious that Rosier is the best QB on this team right now. Rosier is the only QB that truly understands the offense inside and out and can do exactly what Richt wants on any given play. The improvements he’s made this off-season have been seeing the field better and hitting on more throws downfield; I’m told a lot of that has to do with simply getting his timing down with receivers. N’Kosi Perry still has the best deep ball of all the QB’s, though.

The real race has been for the backup job behind Rosier. After being written-off a bit in spring, Cade Weldon had a great camp. He was extremely accurate the first two weeks of fall and was making some great reads on the ground, taking off for a 40 yard run in the first scrimmage against the first team defense. While his deep ball floats a little too much, he really excels at digs and deep comebacks and has a lot of velocity behind his throws. Weldon was making a serious challenge to be the backup behind Rosier, but he petered off in the 2nd scrimmage after throwing three picks.

With that, we have Perry, who is now essentially entrenched as the backup. It’s the big plays that Perry can make on the regular that really made the difference, and he is electric on the ground. The concerns here are still the same: Perry struggles at times to both play within the constructs of Richt’s offense and to make the simple read, instead trying to do too much every play. Either way, a UM source is confident that either Perry or Weldon could get the job done if they had to come in and play against LSU.

Jarren Williams did not quite make enough of the mental jump over the summer to make himself a true contender in the backup race and is probably the furthest behind in terms of learning the offense, although that’s not a surprise as a true freshmen. He is still considered the most accurate of the QB’s in terms of ball placement and there is a contingent within Hecht that believe he will ultimately win the starting job in 2019 after Rosier graduates.

What it means: Rosier will start against LSU, but the quarterback group is more talented than ever and his leash will be shorter than last year when Richt only had Evan Sherriffs to really go to. Perry will get the first shot to come in should Rosier struggle or go down, but with Weldon’s improvement, Richt has three QB’s that he can trust to make plays for him.

Running Back

What we want to hear: That there’s depth behind Travis Homer.

What we’re hearing: Despite UM increasing the talent level in this group, Travis Homer continues to show that he is far and away the best and most complete RB at Miami. Many see him as the best back in the ACC and sources have said he absolutely can play in the NFL next season.

Nothing has changed directly behind Homer, with DeeJay Dallas as the RB making the second most plays. The UM coaches are working on ways to get the pair on the field together more often this season; that includes two RB sets, Dallas in the slot, and Dallas at wildcat QB.

After being relegated to fullback in spring, Trayone Gray has come out of nowhere this fall to solidify the #3 RB role, and he will play both spots this upcoming season. Sources say he has really made strides as a blocker and that Miami will work to get him a few touches per game.

Lorenzo Lingard had been running third all of spring and the beginning of fall, but mid-way through camp was dropped to 5th on the depth chart after really struggling in pass protection during the first scrimmage. Lingard has star-level qualities and is still the fastest back on the team, but a source says the issue with Lingard (in addition to pass protection) is that he doesn’t have a lot of wiggle and runs too upright. UM is still very confident in his long-term development, and he will be a special teams weapon on coverage teams this season at the very least.

After a lot of Robert Burns spring hype, I haven’t heard as much from him during fall camp; he stayed at RB4 all the way through camp. Cam Davis shows flashes, but is still too far behind in learning the offense and protections to be trusted in a consistent role this season. Ditto for Realus George at fullback.

What it means: Homer will pick up the majority of the carries, but Dallas has earned his share and UM will work to get him the ball in a variety of ways. Along with the aforementioned pair, Gray will fill out the rotation of backs that UM plans to give touches to when the game is on the line. Burns, Lingard, Davis, and George all have talent, but still have work to do to earn the coaches’ trust.

Wide Receiver

What we want to hear: Ahmmon Richards is healthy and the young receivers are making an impact.

What we’re hearing: Richards returned from late season knee surgery and has picked up right where he left off. He’s been working harder than ever, and staying after practice to make sure his conditioning is in tip-top shape for LSU. The trio of Richards, Lawrence Cager, and Jeff Thomas will challenge for the best receiving corps in America.

Of the three starters, Cager is feeling the most heat, as behind him at Z receiver Mark Pope and Brian Hightower have made real impressions and coach Ron Dugans will play them both a ton this season. Pope in particular has been noted by a source for having a high learning curve since coming in over the summer and seems to get better every day.

Mike Harley is taking reps both behind Thomas in the slot and behind Cager at Z on the outside and has had a good fall. Darrell Langham has also had a consistent camp behind Richards and will get plenty of situational work.

Evidence Njoku is a physical freak that is getting buzz as a future first rounder and he carries his 6’6” build very well. He is quick enough to win matchups at the line and just has a massive catch radius to haul in any pass in his vicinity. Although the raw physical tools are there, Njoku still has a long way to go in terms of his development as a student of the game. Last year’s knee injury really set back his progress and he is slowly trying to work his way back into being comfortable out there. He is not 100% right now and seems to move stiff at times.

Dee Wiggins and Marquez Ezzard show flashes, but still have things holding them back. For Wiggins, it is his slight frame, and for Ezzard, he really doesn’t understand the offense after playing in a triple-option scheme in high school.

What it means: With a healthy Richards, Thomas and Cager will combine with him to form one of the more scary receiving corps in America. Dugans loves to rotate his group a ton and has said he doesn’t mind going eight deep. I see him going seven deep to start 2018, with those being Richards, Thomas, Cager, Harley, Langham, Pope, and Hightower. As the season moves on and the young guys find their footing, I expect Langham’s reps to slowly be faded out. Njoku is a guy who could hop into the rotation down the line; think Cager’s progression as he returned from knee surgery last season, getting more and more comfortable towards the end of the season.

Tight End

What we want to hear: That Brevin Jordan can at least be serviceable.

What we’re hearing: Scheme-wise, you are going to see Miami play with a bunch of 12 personnel sets, as well as some 21 personnel with Jordan at fullback. A source says fans will be surprised with just how much UM relies on Jordan this season. With Michael Irvin II out for at least the majority of the season with an MCL injury, Jordan has been the best tight end on the field on a daily basis and Miami is preparing to use him in a variety of roles. In practice, he’s lined up in-line, flexed, as an H-back, and even as a split back with Homer. Jordan has even gotten at least one carry in practice as well. Jordan is the only one that has coach Todd Hartley’s trust as both a receiver and a blocker, however Jordan is still working his way through freshmen mistakes.

Brian Polendey has run with the second unit all of camp and has improved to the point where the coaches are comfortable using him situationally as a blocker. Polendey still has a way to go as pass-catcher, though, and his hands leave a lot to be desired.

Will Mallory has spent a majority of his time flexed out in a “David Njoku” role. Miami has run formations with both Jordan and Mallory on the field, the main one of which sees Mallory flexed out in the slot and Jordan as the in-line tight end. Mallory will be the situational receiver of the group, as he really needs to continue to add weight and strength to hold up every down at this level.

What it means: Jordan will get the start at tight end and there is a wide variance of outcomes for how his freshman season can go. It’s most likely that he’ll be a very good security blanket for Rosier in the middle of the field, with the ability to make a huge play at any time, but will also blow a blocking assignment now and again. It doesn’t seem UM has a complete tight aside from Jordan; Polendey and Mallory will play as the situation dictates and each have their strengths and weaknesses at this point of their careers. UM is really relying on Jordan to have at least a serviceable season and Jordan has shown he is at least up to the task on Greentree. LSU will obviously be the real test.

Offensive Line

What we want to hear: That the guards have shown improvement and Donaldson is a viable option at right tackle.

What we’re hearing: A big problem area early in the spring, the Canes have been pleased with the way the line has come together and gelled since moving Navaughn Donaldson to right tackle. UM has kept the first team the same for the entire fall and the lineup is set for LSU. The offensive line continues to be good against the pass rush, however, the struggles come in getting a consistent push in the run game, and it sounds like that will be something UM will continue to have issues with this season.

Seniors Tyree St. Louis and Tyler Gauthier are the best two linemen here and it’s not even close. After them, Navaughn Donaldson has been mauling people in the run game at right tackle and is slowly becoming more comfortable in pass protection. A source says he is confident that Donaldson will develop into one of the ACC’s best right tackles by the end of the season.

The battle at both guard spots has been the real area of interest, though. The guard that has stood out the most has been Hayden Mahoney, who has improved his strength and is a guy that is very consistent technique-wise. He’s a Stacy Searels favorite that isn’t going to be blowing people off the ball, but does not lack toughness whatsoever. Jahair Jones has held down the left guard position since the beginning of spring, and is one of the strongest players on the team, but a source said Jones would be the first lineman to be replaced if there are any struggles.

Delone Scaife has been UM’s best lineman off the bench and is locked into playing left tackle. For now, it looks like Miami wants to groom him there for when St. Louis departs next season. A source says if someone on the interior gets hurt or is pulled for ineffectiveness, it will likely be Venzell Boulware that takes over the starting job. Boulware is on the short side at a shade under 6’3” and struggled at times early in camp, but has really come on lately and is a smart and aggressive player.

The last to get consistent mentions is Corey Gaynor, although I’ve heard he still has a ways to go mentally to fully grasp the center position, which is the toughest in terms of making the right reads and line calls. Last year, Gaynor was playing some guard, but this year the team is trying to leave him solely at center and give him as many reps there as possible to groom him to take over the spot after Gauthier leaves next year. His strength and aggressive nature make him stand out among the backups.

The O-Line drops off a bit from there. After George Brown’s knee surgery, it has been John Campbell and Kai-Leon Herbert that have been battling for the backup right tackle job, and both have shown encouraging enough progress to keep UM excited about their futures. Herbert in particular has improved his strength from last year as he works his way back from shoulder issues. Cleveland Reed has been the main man at backup RG and is one of the strongest linemen on the team, but a source says he has conditioning issues holding him back.

Although he has struggled at times, UM is still optimistic on Zalon’tae Hillery, but he is likely a year away from seeing the field for significant snaps. Ditto for Zach Dykstra, who is even a step behind Hillery at this point.

Bar Milo is not even close to earning playing time as a fourth year junior and will get a degree and a handshake after this season.

What it means: Miami will go eight deep on the line to start the season, with Scaife, Boulware, and Gaynor the primary backups rotating in when the starters need a blow. It’s encouraging to hear that the staff is optimistic with the progress the line has made, and it also must be noted that they are working against a deep UM defensive line with loads of NFL players in practice every day. However, the guards have a lot to prove when the lights come on, and Donaldson staying consistent against the quicker ends at right tackle is not a given either.

Comments (114)

Thank God for this I've been biting nails and pulling my hair waiting for any info. The season is too close for any breaks now @Stefan Adams.
Bar Milo is pretty baffling lol

It is what it is
Welp. Ed knows everything now.

I guess the good news is his coordinators won’t be able to understand a word when he tries to pass this on.
OLine still having issues getting "a push" in the run is frustrating to hear. can't get into those goal to go situations and not be able to rely on your guys to get the ball into the endzone.
I just remembered how at the end of last season Pete was saying someone was telling him that Kosi was the best player on the team. what happened? lol
One thing that stood out to me is Brevin lining up all over the place. And not forcing Mallory into a traditional TE role.. I'm excited to see CMRs full offense. Let's see just how creative the old man can get !!
The OL situation is alarming. Both tackles aren't playing their natural position. (RT for Louis and Donaldson for G). To make things worse we have 3 freshmen in the 2 deep. We need to land Neal and Tarquin, and follow it up with 2 more bluechip OT's the following year.
8 deep at WR, 8 deep on the O-Line, 3 deep at RB, and comfortable enough to run a lot of 12 personnel with 2 freshmen TE's.

My 2 primary take aways are....
1. We finally have quality depth across the board on offense
2. Potential with the TE's.....I am beyond stoked about 12 personnel with Brevin and Mallory and 21 personnel with Brevin in the backfield.
The OL situation is alarming. Both tackles aren't playing their natural position. (RT for Louis and Donaldson for G). To make things worse we have 3 freshmen in the 2 deep. We need to land Neal and Tarquin, and follow it up with 2 more bluechip OT's the following year.
Since when is St. Louis not playing his natural position? He didn’t move to right tackle until he got to Miami, he played left tackle throughout highschool... Same with Donaldson he’s been a right tackle and was only at guard due to Miami wanting the best 5 in the game, you had 2 capable tackles and needed someone to play guard so you put Donaldson there. Plus freshman or not if they can play they can play period. Had Scaife been 6’5 or 6’6 coming out of highschool he might have ended up as a top 50 recruit given how dominant he was.

And I agree We do need to land those guys you mentioned.
Last edited:
The OL situation is alarming. Both tackles aren't playing their natural position. (RT for Louis and Donaldson for G). To make things worse we have 3 freshmen in the 2 deep. We need to land Neal and Tarquin, and follow it up with 2 more bluechip OT's the following year.
Neal & Tarquin will be Freshman when they get on campus.

If it's bad that we have 3 Frosh in the 2 deep this year, then what's so different about adding those Freshman next year?
Running on 3rd down and just 3rd down execution needs to improve in general. If you actually look through the numbers and or go back and watch the games yes while Miami struggled running the ball vs clemson, pitt and unc they had some really performances against almost all of the rest of the teams we played which you wouldn’t know given how some talk about the oline. **** in the bowl game Miami outrushed Wisconsin and averaged over 6.0 ypc against the #2 defense in the country.

Miami was terrible a year ago on 3rd down in both passing and running the ball however in most of the games we didn’t struggle to rush the ball. 3rd down play will take our offense to another level if we improve period. This article listed below goes in more detail.

“In 2017, even after losing Mark Walton early on, the Hurricanes ranked 22nd in rushing S&P+ and gained at least five yards 43.5% of the time (13th), with a 43.4% success rate (56th) and 1.11 IsoPPP (9th). The run blocking played a big role in that ability to maintain success in the face of adversity, with an adjusted line yard ranking of 27th, creating 3.05 line yards per standard down carry (44th), and 3.69 per carry on passing downs (27th). Three starters return from that group, led by 2017 All-ACC guard Navaughn Donaldson, with a combined 47 career starts between them.”
Last edited: