Lashlee, Baker breakdown what to expect from Clemson

Lashlee, Baker breakdown what to expect from Clemson

Stefan Adams
Facing a Clemson team this weekend that will present the toughest challenge he’s seen yet at Miami, Hurricanes offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee knows what he is up against when he takes on Brent Venables and the Tigers’ stop-unit.

“I’ve known Brent for a while, there’s no question he is the best defensive coordinator in college football over the last five years because of their consistency,” Lashlee said. "2017, 2018, 2019 and so far this year, three teams have scored over 28 points (on Clemson). That’s incredibly hard to do. You look every week, it seems someone is scoring 3 and 10 - they score 17 and it’s `They must have had a really good day on offense.’ Multiplicity - he plays a bunch of different fronts, different coverages, has got some guys who now this many years in the system understand what they’re trying to do. They create a lot of turnovers, negative plays, and tackles for loss.

"He almost calls the game like an offensive guy, is very aggressive, wants to try to dictate to you and, in most cases, he does. We have to do our best to just hang in there for four quarters and do our job dictating the tempo a little bit, not be on our heels the whole game. You see a lot of people get on their heels, and credit to them - it’s because they’re really aggressive and really good at what they do.”

With the #7 scoring offense (43.3 ppg) in the country through 3 games, Lashlee’s attack has been the one dictating the pace and style of play to the opposing defense so far this season. They will face-off against a Clemson defense that is 7th in scoring defense (12 ppg) and has spent the past few years as an NFL factory.

“Clemson’s been the standard for the last several years, they have earned everything they’ve been given,” Lashlee said. “Twenty-four straight ACC (wins), they’ve given up more than 28 points in a game three times over three years dating back to the 2017 season. That’s just incredible consistency on defense. We have a ton of respect for Clemson. They're No. 1 and have been the champ in our league for a while for a reason. At the same time, this is why you come to the University of Miami, to be able to play and coach in games like this. It's a great opportunity. This is by far the biggest challenge we've had since I've been here, but you have to prepare the same way.”

While Clemson’s gunslinger under center gets a lot of attention, Miami has a star QB of their own in D’Eriq King, who has directed Lashlee’s offense to the tune of 66.7% passing, 733 yards and 6 TD’s through the air, and 157 rushing yards and a TD on the ground.

“He is a very loose, confident person, but always locked in on what we’re doing,” Lashlee said of King. “He knows when to cut up the guys, when to get serious, is the same guy every day. That helps me as a coach and our offense to have an identity because they know every day, they’ll get his best. He’s focused and he’s locked in. That has slowly, but surely, hopefully become the personality of our offense, because he’s our leader. His consistency has really been big for us.

“In terms of his skillset, we’re always trying to put him in position to do what he does best. Fortunately for us, he can run it and throw it. Three games in, we have a pretty good handle. He’s so even-keel, so consistent on game day, and I think we have a pretty good idea of putting him in position where he can go play, react, use his abilities. The worst thing you can do to a player like him is overload him mentally. He’s capable of doing a lot, but let’s let him go react and play football.”

With RB Cam’Ron Harris (311 yards) being one of the nation’s leading rushers thus far, and Jaylan Knighton and Don Chaney providing an exceptional change of pace behind him, Lashlee is looking to keep up Miami’s balanced attack on offense to keep the opposing defense guessing.

"Overall, the balance, being able to run the ball effectively, throw the ball effectively, that's what we want to do," Lashlee said. "It's not always going to be 50/50. It's been good. Game 1 we had to run it a lot, Game 2 throw it, Game 3 a little of both. Every game is going to have its own personality, you have to take what the defense gives you."

In the passing game, Lashlee says he looks to funnel the majority of targets through Miami’s tight ends, but that any receiver could step up any given game depending on what the opposing defense shows.

“We’ve got some good playmakers,” Lashlee said. “We try to run the offense through (the tight ends), but it doesn’t always go to them. We don’t go into a game thinking `This guy needs this many touches.’ We have to run the system because the defense may double a guy, take a guy away and we need to be a good team offense and be able to take what’s there.

“Our receivers have gotten better each week. We have a long way to go, have to continue to improve. The older guys are starting to really understand what we have to do in our system. Getting a guy like Jeremiah Payton back, having more opportunities for these young guys in a bye week, now we’re three weeks into the season, they get a little more action. We played more guys against Florida State, I think will continue to do that, keep guys fresh, let some of those young guys get in there. We saw Michael Redding have a big third down catch and a touchdown catch. Those guys will continue to hopefully inject life into that room. We just have to keep getting better.”

While junior Brevin Jordan has gotten the vast majority of the looks at tight end for Miami, 2nd string junior TE Will Mallory has made a few key catches for UM as well this season.

“He’s involved, feels like he is a big part of (the offense),” Lashlee said of Mallory. “Will is one of our best players, has been banged up the last two games, has fought through it. Hopefully you’ll see his numbers continue to rise.”

As for pace of play, the Canes are 28th nationally with 75.3 plays run per game, a number Lashlee says he is satisfied with thus far.

“Our guys understand what we want to do and how we want to do it," Lashlee said. "You have to prepare the same way every week - they have our utmost respect, we’ll give it our best and see where we stand. Our guys understand what we want to do and why we want to do it.”


**In addition to their strong defense, Clemson also sports one of the best offenses in the country, coming in at 8th nationally at 42.3 ppg. Slowing down that Tigers’ attack is a task that Miami DC Blake Baker is looking forward to in the matchup of top ten teams this weekend.

“We’re excited for the challenge. I know our guys are excited to continue to prepare this week for them… Our kids embrace it, two top 10 teams being able to battle in the regular season, a team like Clemson who has been on top of the game for quite some time now,” Baker said. “To me, embrace the moment. We’re excited for the challenge. When you look at their quarterback, running back, their stable of receivers, they can all run and change direction. And up front they’re really, really good. It’s one of those games to me where if you really want to see how good you are, this is the team to play. We’re playing the premier offense and premier team in college football right now when you look at what they’ve done over coach Dabo Swinney’s time there.”

Much of Baker’s attention will be focused on QB Trevor Lawrence, and for good reason – the junior passer is completing 73.3% of his throws for 848 yards passing and 10 total TD’s through 3 games in 2020.

“The biggest thing is we have to be able to contest a lot of his throws,” Baker said of Lawrence. “Even when you think you have a guy covered, he is so accurate, he’s going to put the ball in there. We have to make sure, especially on the back end – with other quarterbacks, you might think you have the guy covered up, but he has such great arm strength, such great accuracy he’s really able to throw it in there just like an NFL quarterback, really tight windows. Then the other thing about Trevor Lawrence is his legs. He’s a problem. That’s the best way I can put it.

“He’s 6-6, 220, you can tell he has great leadership, physically can make every throw, great accuracy, tremendous arm strength, and with his legs, is where he does a lot of his decisions. When a play breaks down, he’s great - once he gets in the open field, he’s a load to bring down. Real, real fast. People probably sleep on that more than anything because he has such long strides. But he is eating up ground and gaining tons of yards once the pocket breaks down. We will have to be on top of our game in all three levels to be able to contain him.”

On the ground, the Tigers’ bring back the ACC’s second-leading rusher in RB Travis Etienne, who has 415 scrimmage yards and 3 TD’s so far this season.

“He’s the premier running back in all of college football,” Baker said of Etienne. “He’s everything you want in a tailback - he’s physical, fast, great change of direction, great balance, great ball skills. He is really the complete package. So we’ll definitely have our hands full with him. And I know our guys are excited for the challenge. Looking forward to it.”

On Miami’s side, Baker has liked what he’s seen from his pass rush (13 TFL, 6 sacks vs. FSU) and the secondary in recent weeks.

“Our pass rush has done pretty well,” Baker said. “From the secondary standpoint, we’ve done some really, really good things, some things we really cleaned up from Week 2 to Week 3. Our guys are getting more and more comfortable playing together as a unit. The secondary always gets called out for passing yards, good or bad, but it all works together. A lot of that is up to the pass rush, how we’re covering underneath with our linebackers. I think we’re building trust and cohesiveness within the unit at all three levels.”

While the LB’s have shown off their inexperience at times, Baker feels that unit has done well in spurts too.

“Overall, I think they’ve shown flashes, have done some really, really good things and sometimes you can see some of their inexperience as well,” Baker said. “But overall, very pleased where we’re at this far in the season.”

With S Gurvan Hall missing first half against Clemson after a targeting call in the second half vs. FSU, Baker said Amari Carter and Bubba Bolden will get the majority of the work at safety in the first half vs. the Tigers, adding that freshman Brian Balom could also see time.

“We feel we have three starters at (safety),” Baker said. “It’ll be good now that Gurvan can be on the sideline, he’ll be able to pay attention and lock into what’s happening out there on the field.

“Brian has done a very nice job, is someone we’re comfortable with getting into the game. Not having Gurvan in the first half, you always want a playmaker like that, so it’s a shame what happened a couple of weekends ago. But he’ll be chomping at the bit ready to go in the second half.”

As part of this week’s game plan, Baker is preaching more focus and less emotion, although he recognizes passionate play is something that is at the core of Miami football.

"We have to play a little more disciplined,” Baker said. “Passion is something we hang our hat on here at Miami, something we don’t want to take away. Now we need to confine some of those emotions, maybe not kick a football helmet across the yard this Saturday. But at the end of the day, we want our guys to play with emotion, have to learn to hone it in a little bit. We can really learn from that Florida State game from that aspect. But if you try to take away their passion, you're doing them a disservice. It's part of our culture here."
 

Comments (33)

The offensive pace is there. Our numbers are skewed because we scored on a few 1 play drives against Louisville.

UAB - 79
UL - 60
FSU - 85

If we get 80 plays vs Clemson, it's a Win.
 
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Must put consistent pressure on Lawrence. Thus far nobody's really done so and tested his mettle in that regard. We'll need to wrap Etienne up, that guy is a tackle breaking fool. Gonna need somebody to spy Lawrence and nail him whenever he tries to run. I think if we keep the tempo up it'll pay dividends.
 
I really hope Ed Reed has been watching film with this defense. If he can get in the minds of the Brandys and the Mannings of the NFL then he should be able to pick out the occasional nugget or tell of TL that could make the difference between a W or L.
 
I really hope Ed Reed has been watching film with this defense. If he can get in the minds of the Brandys and the Mannings of the NFL then he should be able to pick out the occasional nugget or tell of TL that could make the difference between a W or L.
Its a pretty good bet that Reed has been in a lot of film sessions with the defense to prepare for Clemson. Even one nugget that leads to an int or any big play is worth it.
 
Manny can oversee the game plan all he wants. Manny and Baker could scheme up football's equivalent to the Unified Field Theory and the whole defensive staff can analyze film with Ed Reed all they want. Nothing that I have seen leads me to believe that we have any chance of holding this Clemson offense in check wether that means relatively in check or not. Don't get me wrong guys I love our team and they are going to fight but we are going to have to score 38+ to have a chance to win this game. If our D can frustrate them in the red zone and make Clemson settle for field goals then that is a huge win. For those of you who think we're going to waltz in there and give them the VT 05 treatment you are certifiably insane. Can we win? Yes but nobody on this board should be even entertaining the idea of our defense dominating. We are on our way for sure but we are not up to that level......yet. We are going to have to score and score a lot.

If our D actually goes in there and plays out of their minds and we hold them to 20 or under I will eat every bit of crow that anyone wants to feed me and be ecstatic to do it!
 
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Manny can overlook the game plan all he wants. Manny and Baker could scheme up football's equivalent to the Unified Field Theory and the whole defensive staff can analyze film with Ed Reed all they want. Nothing that I have seen leads me to believe that we have any chance of holding this Clemson offense in check wether that means relatively in check or not. Don't get me wrong guys I love our team and they are going to fight but we are going to have to score 38+ to have a chance to win this game. If our D can frustrate them in the red zone and make Clemson settle for field goals then that is a huge win. For those of you who think we're going to waltz in there and give them the VT 05 treatment you are certifiably insane. Can we win? Yes but nobody on this board should be even entertaining the idea of our defense dominating. We are on our way for sure but we are not up to that level......yet. We are going to have to score and score a lot.

If our D actually goes in there and plays out of their minds and we hold them to 20 or under I will eat every bit of crow that anyone wants to feed me and be ecstatic to do it!
I will up you one. I won't say another bad word about Baker if we keep them 28 or under......Will back off drastically on him if we keep them at 31 or less. I believe first team to 31 wins the game.
 
I will up you one. I won't say another bad word about Baker if we keep them 28 or under......Will back off drastically on him if we keep them at 31 or less. I believe first team to 31 wins the game.
I can get behind that. I rag Baker plenty but I would be a liar if I didn't say that he has shown significant improvement this season. Brent Venables he isn't but the dude has made progress.
 
The DL is the X factor IMO. They get tons off pressure it's going to be tough on Clemson and Lawrence.
 
Manny can overlook the game plan all he wants. Manny and Baker could scheme up football's equivalent to the Unified Field Theory and the whole defensive staff can analyze film with Ed Reed all they want. Nothing that I have seen leads me to believe that we have any chance of holding this Clemson offense in check wether that means relatively in check or not. Don't get me wrong guys I love our team and they are going to fight but we are going to have to score 38+ to have a chance to win this game. If our D can frustrate them in the red zone and make Clemson settle for field goals then that is a huge win. For those of you who think we're going to waltz in there and give them the VT 05 treatment you are certifiably insane. Can we win? Yes but nobody on this board should be even entertaining the idea of our defense dominating. We are on our way for sure but we are not up to that level......yet. We are going to have to score and score a lot.

If our D actually goes in there and plays out of their minds and we hold them to 20 or under I will eat every bit of crow that anyone wants to feed me and be ecstatic to do it!
 
LOL nice! Look don't misunderstand me. I love this squad and we've got some dogs on defense. I'm actually extremely optimistic about the future of this defense and that goes for the potential I see in this year's D. All I was trying to point out is that we are not quite there yet in terms of being able to effectively slow down an offense like Clemson. I'm not comparing them to 2019 LSU but their strengths matchup very well for them vs our weaknesses. We don't have the caliber of LB play or depth at CB to effectively handle a QB like Lawerence and a RB like Ettienne. Sprinkle in their #1 WR and a freak like Ladson and the matchup just gets worse. Like I said, we will get to the point where we don't have those issues defensively but we're not there quite yet. We can still win but it's doubtful we shut them down.
 
The offensive pace is there. Are numbers are skewed because we scored on a few 1 play drives against Louisville.

UAB - 79
UL - 60
FSU - 85

If we get 80 plays vs Clemson, it's a Win.

agreed. We need 80 plus snaps or we better damn sure have 4 explosive plays for TD. They will score 30pts and their defense rarely gives up more than 28pts.
 

2021 Commits

S
6'5"
220
Fort Lauderdale, FL
DT
6'4"
255
Miami, FL
OG
6'2"
295
Miami, FL
DT
6'4"
290
Miami, FL
DE
6'5"
210
Miami, FL
WR
6'2"
180
Miami, FL
RB
6'0"
225
Hollywood, FL
TE
6'4"
210
Frisco, TX
STR
6'3"
190
Melbourne, FL
S
5'11"
200
Miami, FL

Latest Predictions

by whoopingcane
Certain
by Matthew_Suero
High
by SmoovEth
High
by underdogthakur1
Medium
by underdogthakur
High

2020 Schedule

09/10
UAB
Miami Gardens, FL
W 31 - 14
09/19
Louisville
Louisville, KY
W 47 - 34
09/26
Florida State
Miami Gardens, FL
W 52 - 10
10/10
Clemson
Clemson, SC
10/17
Pittsburgh
Miami Gardens, FL
10/24
Virginia
Miami Gardens, FL
11/06
NC State
Raleigh, NC
11/14
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA
11/21
Georgia Tech
Miami Gardens, FL
11/28
Wake Forest
Winston-Salem, NC
12/05
North Carolina
Miami Gardens, FL
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