Spring thoughts (offense)

8 min read
Below are my observations on the offense based on what I saw in spring. Everyone will focus on the quarterbacks, but the most important thing has been the development of the first team OL. I think we’ve found the right mix there. I'll break down the defense tomorrow.

QUARTERBACK- Richt is a straight shooter. When he tells the press there’s been no separation, he means it.

Two guys got the majority of first-team reps. Evan Shirreffs reminds me of an athletic Ryan Williams. When Williams was a young player, he lacked confidence throwing the ball and struggled to compensate for his lack of arm strength. By the time he was a senior, he commanded the offense and made every throw with anticipation. Shirreffs is like the sophomore version of Williams right now. For a QB who will make his living on accuracy, he is very inconsistent. Too many simple throws are dying in the dirt.

Shirreffs has flashed, though, especially in the first scrimmage when he made a pair of NFL throws to Berrios before getting rocked by an LB. Those plays made a big impression on Richt. I suspect (no info) that Richt would prefer Shirreffs to beat out Rosier because of his size and IQ. But he never pulled away and has sputtered at times.

Malik Rosier is just too erratic for a fourth-year player. He’s quickened his release and has a stronger arm than Shirreffs. His issues are decision-making and accuracy. Rosier will airmail throws that he absolutely has to make. And his freelancing is a huge issue because he’s not talented enough to get away with it. The big advantage Rosier has is experience. He has actually started a game and won. He also finished stronger than Shirreffs in the last two scrimmages.

Jack Allison is by far the most talented of the three but he doesn’t process as well as the other two. That’s why they get more reps. Jack has made incremental improvements, especially with his accuracy. I hope he trusts his coaches, hunkers down and works on his craft instead of getting impatient. There aren’t too many passers with his height and arm talent.

I thought Cade Weldon showed promise. However, he’s nowhere near ready and got more erratic as the spring went on. That’s normal given everything that’s being thrown at him. He also worked primarily with the threes, which means a lot of walk-ons at WR. But he has good arm strength (second-best behind Jack), solid size and intriguing running ability. His accuracy should be OK with time and is better than Rosier and Allison at the same stage.

RUNNING BACK- Mark Walton just needs to stay healthy. He’s the best back in the ACC and one of the best all-around backs in the nation. One of the reasons the offense struggled at times during the scrimmages is that we threw more than normal to preserve Walton and gauge the QBs. Travis Homer runs extremely hard and has a similar style to Ryan Mathews. Not a ton of creativity but good burst, power and effort. Robert Burns got everybody excited the first few days and then got hurt. I don’t think you can count on him until he proves he can stay on the field. Trayone Gray didn’t do competitive drills but he has regained his speed and looks enormous.

We still need a fullback. Dewayne Washington is the best right now but he’s not ACC-ready. Expect to see tight ends fill that role. You may also see a young LB or lineman play there in spot duty.

TIGHT END- Chris Herndon is Chris Herndon. He will play in the NFL next year. Michael Irvin II took control of the number 2 spot because of his versatility and intelligence. He can line up in-line, flexed or in the backfield. The key for him will be conditioning. He's carrying too much extra weight. Jovani Haskins has leaned up and caught a lot of balls in the scrimmages. He just needs to become a better student of the game. Brian Polendey is below the level of athleticism we expect from a Miami TE. But he has good height, decent hands and flashed promise in the run game. He could be a role player if he hits the weights hard.

WIDE RECEIVER- Ahmmon Richards looked like himself when he wasn’t sidelined with a hamstring injury. It was really nice to see Dionte Mullins seize that #2 spot. He reminds me of Chris Chambers with his ability to control his body and pluck the ball. Braxton Berrios is always a good practice player. With David Njoku in the NFL, I expect him to see more time in his natural slot position.

Deejay Dallas really impressed me. Physically, he is built more like a running back (5’11, 200) than a WR. His route running is a work in progress, but he is a natural in terms of locating and adjusting to the ball before the DB can react. He made as many splash plays as anybody. Despite his success at WR, I’m not ruling out that he can play RB or DB. Just a gifted athlete with a solid mental makeup. Darrell Langham still can’t separate but can contribute in the red zone. He had a nice, productive spring with all of the extra reps. Dayall Harris didn’t standout for better or worse. His best value may be in the screen game. We need Jeff Thomas, Mike Harley, Lawrence Cager and Evidence Njoku to add some juice to the second and third teams.

OFFENSIVE LINE- The story of the spring for me was the emergence of the first team OL. We started out (L-R) with St. Louis/Darling/Gauthier/McDermott/Donaldson. Tyree St. Louis struggled a bit on the blind side, and Navaughn Donaldson was inconsistent on the right. Once they moved Kc McDermott to LT, everything clicked. The lineup of McDermott/Darling/Gauthier/Donaldson/St. Louis got a ton of reps and did a very nice job in pass protection. The first team QBs had more than enough time to throw against a nasty DL.

McDermott might be the biggest surprise. I always pegged him as a guard, but he’s more athletic and not as strong as I originally thought. He’s playing with a ton of confidence at tackle. His balance is particularly impressive—he is always square and in good position even against our best DEs. St. Louis is looking comfortable at RT. Donaldson is everything we expected. Not only is he massive, but he is very smart and passionate about football. At times, he was tossing around guys like Kendrick Norton. The key for him will be getting leaner and improving his balance. Ty Gauthier is rock-solid at center and a huge strength upgrade from Nick Linder. He just needs to improve his snaps, which he can practice in the off-season. Trevor Darling is probably the weak link right now. He’s more of a right tackle than a guard, as he struggles with upper-body strength and leverage inside.

The second team is a completely different story. I’m not sure any of these guys can play at Miami. George Brown isn’t strong enough. Bar Milo and Hayden Mahoney have played every position on the line and nothing has clicked. Jahair Jones is too slow. Tre Johnson has the athleticism but no strength or toughness. Zach Dykstra is in the same boat. Pretty good athlete, but nowhere near physical enough.

The good news is that help is on the way. We will soon add Linder, Sonny Odogwu, Corey Gaynor, Kai-Leon Herbert and Zalontae Hillery. Don’t be surprised if the second team is the third team by September.

Overall, I think we are in good shape except for the question mark at quarterback. With the veteran talent at RB, WR, TE and OL, the table is set for a guy like N'kosi Perry to win the job and have some help.

Comments (243)

Good to hear about the o-line. If they can run the ball consistently this year it will help this team.
Ouch on the OL depth sounds like we really need to clean house. Sonny is my favorite personality on the team I hope he can come back and contribute.
KC mcDermott playing a contract year, never understood the guard thing with him after he dominated at the UA game at tackle. He was the LT during our 5 game winning streak last year, and again they tried to slide him inside, the short arm thing really sticks with folks
I am interested to see which freshman WR gets the most action.

Richards, Mullins and Berrios sound like the top 3 guys with Cager looming. Doesn't look easy for them to get much time.
Didn't take an offensive line guru to realize that McDermott was 100 times better at tackle than at guard. He doesn't have the strength to hold up against bull rushing defensive tackles. He does have quick feet in pass protection and is surprisingly good on the move and in space. Lots of linemen can get out and pull but they often miss blocks and end up diving at guys' legs. KC does a good job of getting out in front of the play and engaging his man. I think the 1st team O-line will end up very solid if unspectacular.
KC McDermott finally becoming the anchor that he was bought in with hype to be?? I would love if true, but got to see it in game action to believe it. Would be a blessing tho to finally have great line play. I think that is where we failed Kayaa most. If you recruit a statue you better make sure you build a solid wall in front of him. Hopefully whoever our next young qb is, is able to grow without getting pummeled on 2 man rushes, yikes.
Walton is a guy who has just steady evolved as a player. Of all the guy who were committed to UM at that position the year he came in, he's the guy to have(by far). Just a complete football player...
Awesome write up, excited about the running game. How much faster is Rosier than Evan?
KC McDermott finally becoming the anchor that he was bought in with hype to be??

I don't want to build expectations too high. He's no Joe Thomas and will probably get beat at times by the monsters FSU has recruited at DE. But for the most part I think he will do a good job.
Good work Dmoney... Appreciate the insights.
Interesting that Trevor Darling is the weak link.

He's looking more and more like a guy who won't live up to expectations.
Oh but I thought George Brown was the sure starter at LT?
brian polendey better savour every rep he gets this year if any.

he's about to be pushed further down that depth chart with the two guys we got coming in
" I thought Cade Weldon showed promise. However, he’s nowhere near ready and got more erratic as the spring went on. That’s normal given everything that’s being thrown at him. He also worked primarily with the threes, which means a lot of walk-ons at WR. But he has good arm strength (second-best behind Jack), solid size and intriguing running ability. His accuracy should be OK with time and is better than Rosier and Allison at the same stage. "

Why should we have any hope that Perry also a true freshman can mature enough to win the job. I hope a light goes off with Allison or Its going to be Rosier by default. A friend of mine a Georgia fan who knows Richt said it wouldn't surprise him if Richt is just trying to rattle Allisons cage and that he in fact is the one he plans to start with.
The JAGS on the OL are exactly why i LOL at the noobs who think we should only take 3 OL this year. We should be shooting for 5, not 3. We're going to lose 4 OL in the 2 deep this year, plus we're still carrying the deadweight of Jahair, Milo, Mahoney, and Tre (and now Brown).
I hope that the offense can come together very soon. We need them to complement our championship defense.
We have consistently seen OL have the "light come on"

Theres too much talent in the group to still struggle so much. Hopefully McDermott can be that guy this year and let others fall into place.

Cant wait till Gaynor gets here
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