Spring Cleaning - Offense

Spring Cleaning - Offense

Stefan Adams
With their final scrimmage being held this past Saturday, spring practice is now in the books for the Canes. Since the media only gets to view a small portion of the practices, it’s “sources season” here at CIS. We gathered up some sources both inside and outside Hecht, plus what the coaches have been saying in interviews, to get a pulse on where the team is at heading into the long summer. Here were the bits from the offense.


What we want to hear: Somebody, anybody (even Augie Debiase) is giving Malik Rosier all he can handle.

What we’re hearing: Malik is what he is at this point, and hasn’t shown significant improvement or regression in either direction. One team source says Rosier will be the starter vs. LSU if all the QB’s are on equal footing and that N’Kosi Perry or Jarren Williams will have to beat Rosier out by a good margin this fall for that to change; barring a huge jump over the summer by either of the freshmen, that won’t happen.

The source went on to say, however, that if one were to make that leap over the summer, it would likely be Williams, due to the true freshman being more mentally advanced than Perry at this stage. While Williams may not know the entire playbook right now, he does know where to go with the ball the majority of the time, goes through progressions, and is poised in the pocket. What really sets Williams apart from Rosier and Perry, the source says, is that Williams’ mechanics do not break down when under pressure. He is already the most accurate passer at UM and the spring numbers bear that out (17 for 25, 68% through all three scrimmages).

Another source says the book on Perry is simple: he is the best pure athlete for Miami at QB and has a howitzer for an arm; some of the plays he’s making on Greentree are jaw-dropping. But he’s also maddening half the time, thinking too much and always letting balls get away from him, something echoed by Jon Richt in interviews. The source also said that Perry had his worst scrimmage of the three this past Saturday and did not end spring on a good note.

Cade Weldon missed half of spring and 2 of the 3 scrimmages due to an eye infection. While he returned throwing with the third team and Richt praised his final scrimmage work (9 for 12, 75%, 113 yards), all reports have indicated he is the fourth best QB on this team right now.

Richt ended his final spring interview throwing us a bit of a wildcard, saying that he would tailor the offense to fit whoever won the job, and that he would scale things back if it was one of the freshmen. As expected, the head coach also reiterated the competition was still on-going and would be until the end of fall camp.

What it means: Rosier took the majority of the first string snaps from beginning to end this spring and enters the summer with the job still in hand. I’d say he keeps the job through fall and opens vs. LSU, but the big takeaway this spring is just how ramped up the competition is in the QB room. Also, it’s crazy given the sheer amount of hype Perry came in with, but with Williams being more ready than expected and Perry still seeing fits of struggles, is Williams now the QB of the future over Perry? It’s too early to give up on him, but I don’t know where Weldon fits into this team at the moment. On another note, his eye infection looked gnarly when I saw him when he was back at practice, so I can only imagine how bad it was in the weeks before.

Running Back

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

What we’re hearing: Travis Homer had a huge spring. According to Thomas Brown in interviews, he's the only running back on the roster right now that is capable of being an every-down back. Aside from Homer, the back generating the most buzz is Robert Burns. One team source says that this was “shocking” and that some were privately all but expecting him to transfer based on his true freshman season in 2017, but that he looks healthy and like a completely different player this spring. The source also says Burns is the second-fastest back on the team and is breaking tackles regularly. Burns has also earned considerable praise from Brown in interviews.

Deejay Dallas is ginormous, bulking up to 221 and running over people consistently, but is still learning the nuances of the running back position. While Lorenzo Lingard currently runs too upright and needs to work on his pad-level, he has all the tools to be a future star. He’s the fastest back on the team and, despite the Burns hype, Lingard is running third team over him behind Homer and Dallas. Trayone Gray is up to 240 and at fullback; it looks like his UM career will go out with a whimper.

What it means: While it’s concerning that Homer is the only one consistent enough right now to be trusted as a work-horse, Burns’ emergence adds yet another potential weapon to an already dynamic stable of backs at UM. The fact that Lingard is still running third team over Burns shows you just how talented the 5-star freshman is.

Wide Receiver

What we want to hear: That this is one of the best WR rooms in the country.

What we’re hearing: One team source calls Jeff Thomas “the best offensive player on the team this spring (sans Richards).” Lawrence Cager has fully recovered from his ACL and looks like an NFL guy, but needs more consistency day-to-day. Both freshmen look good, with Hightower having an edge on Wiggins, something that played out in the spring game. Wiggins has great quickness and Hightower has the great size and ball skills. A source said the team is expecting Hightower to continue to progress mentally over the summer and really push Cager for reps in fall. Wiggins will be a possible redshirt and really needs to bulk up. Mike Harley hasn’t had the best camp, but the team's still hopeful for his development and isn’t giving up on him.

On WR1, Ahmmon Richards has been working off to the side at Greentree running routes and catching balls, but is still not doing contact work. Dugans has said in interviews he expects him to be a full-go for fall camp.

What it means: With a healthy Richards, Thomas will combine with him to form one of the more scary tandems in America. The seniors in Langham and Harris are being passed on the depth chart a bit and I’m fine with it. With the crazy depth at the position and Pope not even in yet, Harley is the one player who’s off-season will be the most crucial and determine his future with the team.

Tight End

What we want to hear: That it’s not a complete dumpster fire.

What we’re hearing: Not going to spend too much time here, because everything we’re hearing is no different than if you’ve been following my practice reports. The tight ends have really struggled and whoever the guy is, he’s not on campus yet. Irvin in particular has been given every opportunity by the staff, but he’s just not putting it together.

What it means: Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory can’t get here soon enough.

Offensive Line

What we want to hear: That there is a viable guy at right tackle.

What we’re hearing: That there isn’t a viable guy at right tackle, for now. George Brown started the spring there, but sources agree he is not physical enough to play at Miami. Navaughn Donaldson was kicked out to right tackle from guard, but has been inconsistent at best so far and had an up-and-down final scrimmage. However, as he continues to trim weight and get comfortable on the outside, team sources are confident he will be a good to great right tackle in 2018.

Seniors Tyree St. Louis and Tyler Gauthier are the best two linemen and it’s not even close. The biggest mover of the spring has been Jahair Jones, who went wire-to-wire as the starting left guard. As a now fifth-year senior, Jones hasn’t played a significant minute in his time at Miami, but sources tell CIS that his improvement is legitimate due to a renewed focus on the mental side of the game and that he is really putting in the time off the field.

Everyone loves Delone Scaife’s physical talent and all agree he will be a great one someday. However, opinion is split with the team sources on how big of an impact he can have this season, with one saying he is still a year away, while another says many within the team are expecting him to make the mental leap over the summer and usurp either Jones or Hayden Mahoney to start at one of the guard spots in the opener. John Campbell gets a lot of mentions as well as someone who is way ahead of schedule, as many thought he’d be a project coming into Miami.

On Corey Gaynor, we’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.

Kai-Leon Herbert has been running with both second and third team at tackle and shows flashes, but has been held back by a bum shoulder.

Tre Johnson has not been practicing this spring, but is still around the team. Sources are unsure (or unwilling to say) if he is suspended, injured, or planning a transfer. Either way, it’s not looking good for Johnson’s future with the team.

What it means: I want to believe in Jones, I really do. I need to see him carry this effort over into the fall to really be convinced. The line at the end of spring goes St. Louis-Jones-Gauthier-Mahoney-Donaldson and grad transfer Venzell Boulware will come in during the fall to throw his hat into the guard competition. With Brown proving a disappointment, if Donaldson can’t quickly develop into a consistent right tackle, it will be a long season for this unit.

Comments (65)

Great stuff man! Reads like this team's success is hinged on the OL. George Brown and Tre Johnson---gone.
Thanks for the great article Stefan
For those thinking Searels should have already turned this o-line around, read this article.

Still work left to do on parts of this roster with the offensive line being by far the biggest project.
Very good write-up.

But in the future, can we try not to use "Navaughn Donaldson" and "kicked out" in the same sentence again - regardless of context?
Great read.

So RB & WR sound great.

QB,TE, and OL are a mess
our Oline sounds bad, we really need Harley to step up.
On film he looks fast especially for his size but idk if he is faster than homer
That’s why I was trying to confirm that’s what he meant . Because he said Burns was 2nd fastest and then said Lingard was the fastest
That’s why I was trying to confirm that’s what he meant . Because he said Burns was 2nd fastest and then said Lingard was the fastest
Have no doubt lingard is the fastest, but imo homer would be 2nd fastest followed by burns. Dallas isn’t slow either