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Upon Further Review: 20 Fall Camp Questions

Upon Further Review: 20 Fall Camp Questions

Lance Roffers
That wonderful sound you will soon be hearing on Greentree is the sound of another fall camp opening up for our beloved Miami Hurricanes. Miami is coming off a decent season when they finished 8-3 but were close to breaking through for more. What questions remain for the 2021 Hurricanes? What is the season outlook for this group? Want to see my season prediction? Read on for the Miami Fall Camp, Upon Further Review style.

Individual Questions:

What type of talent returns for Miami this season?

Miami returns 93% of their total snaps on offense and 87% of their total snaps on defense. The talent is in place to take a big step forward, but just as importantly, the experience is in place that Miami has not had in many years.

How did that talent fare in 2020?
In S&P+, Miami finished the season 20th overall, with the offense finishing 33rd overall, the defense finishing 31st, and special teams finishing 3rd overall. This ranking is fairly similar to their AP finish, which was 22nd in the country.

What will D’Eriq King look like in year two of the offense?
Clearly, Rhett Lashlee and the Miami coaching staff set out to design an offense to accentuate the strengths of transfer QB D’Eriq King. King has proven to be an excellent thrower of the deep ball and excels in extending plays in the backfield while keeping his eyes downfield. The result was Miami throwing deep on 21.0% of their pass plays, which was 24th most in the nation. Additionally, Miami took advantage of the college rules that tend to favor offense by going from 99th in the country in RPO rate, to 10th last year. I mentioned the college rules, and one of the rules that Miami tried to exploit more often was the rule that you can block downfield as long as the pass is thrown behind the LOS. Miami threw the ball behind the LOS 32.6% of the time in 2020, which ranked 9th in the country.

What does all this mean for Miami in 2021? Expect Coach Lashlee to expand the offense more this year as he has more time for installation this year after COVID impacted everyone in 2020, but especially teams with new coaches/coordinators.

The WR room struggled in 2020, what should we expect to see in 2021?
Miami as an offense wants to play at break-neck speed. They want to run 80, 90, or even 100 plays a game. This means that Miami needs to have as many as eight WR’s who they can trust to play in games. This is a tall task due to the fact last year Miami had one WR they could consistently trust, in Mike Harley. Last year, in the ACC Miami ranked 11th in percentage of targets going for a 1st down or TD. They ranked 12th in catch rate on throws beyond 10 yards. For an offense that wants to stress the defense deep, this sort of conversion rate is too inefficient to take them where they want to be.

To help with this, Miami brought in Oklahoma transfer Charleston Rambo. Rambo was a disappointment in 2020, as he just never meshed with the offense, but in 2019 he was a force. Rambo was 3rd in the Big-12 in percentage of targets to result in 15+ yards at 28.6%. The threat of Rambo deep should do wonders to open up space for other players.

Miami is hopeful that depth has been improved at the position. In spring camp, Harley, Rambo, Restrepo, and Keyshawn Smith looked like a reliable foursome. The coaches moved Mark Pope inside to the slot to give him more free releases and hopefully unlock his big play potential. Pope has struggled with drops throughout his career though and to be trusted will need to get off to a strong start in camp. Dee Wiggins has also struggled with drops and other issues during his time with Miami and it remains to be seen if he can take a step forward after an average spring camp.

Can this team replace Brevin Jordan and his big-play ability at TE?
Bevin was a dynamic playmaker when he was on the field, but all-too-often he was missed games and was held out of action. Will Mallory did an excellent job as a receiver last year, finishing at 11.0 Yards/Target, which was 6th in the country for TE’s. As he has gained weight and strength you have slowly seen his blocking improve as well. Keeping Mallory healthy will be important for an offense that lacks proven depth at the position, but plenty of talented options.

What should we expect from the OL this season?
In pass sets last year, Miami allowed 63 pressures and 11 sacks, with 7 penalties (only OL). That clearly will not be good enough and the 2.9% pressure rate was below-average. Miami will be looking for steps forward in this area by making a few changes up front. Expect Jalen Rivers to take over the LG spot after Jakai Clark was injured in an auto accident. Rivers played only 11 pass sets last year, while it was a clean sheet, he did struggle some with technique. He’s a large human with surprisingly nimble feet. He needs to take a large step forward.

Speaking of steps forward, Miami will look for Navaughn Donaldson to fulfill his immense potential as a senior. Donaldson played 12 pass snaps last year and also had a clean sheet. If the two guards on this OL can provide even average play this year, it will be a massive upgrade over what we saw last year.

At LT, Miami has their first potential 1st round pick since Ereck Flowers several years ago. Zion Nelson made massive steps forward last year, going from one of the worst LT’s in college football to above average. If he can take the next step this year towards being great, it could solidify Miami’s offense as one of the elites. Nelson allowed pressure on 3.4% of his 355 pass sets, and Miami would like to see that number under 2% this season.

Miami is looking at another newcomer entering the starting lineup as DJ Scaife has held off incumbent Jarrid Williams all throughout spring camp. Scaife is a better T than he is G and should rebound from a poor season at RG. Scaife allowed pressure on 3.9% of his 435 pass snaps and that is a very poor number. Miami needs him to be under 3% this season on the outside. Jarrid Williams’ numbers from last year as a baseline that Scaife needs to clear to maintain the starting job (2.6% pressure on 387 pass sets and two sacks allowed).

Gaynor had times where he struggled to maintain the LOS and was pushed back, but there is no denying that Miami was productive when running into his gap last season, where he had a missed block rate of 0.80% (1st in ACC) and Miami average 2.3 yards before contact on run plays up the middle (2nd in ACC). He’s turned into a steady performer that can be counted on to make line calls and hit his assignment, though he will rarely dominate or pancake anyone.

Who wins the RB job?
Coach Lashlee is on-record in saying he wants to have a bell cow RB this season, but who that could be remains a mystery. Cam’Ron Harris is the incumbent, who turned in Miami’s two best rushing days of the season in the first two games of the year. Donald Chaney is probably the most talented of the group; but is coming off a shoulder injury and has questions with pass-blocking. Knighton is the most explosive of the group, but also the lightest at 205 pounds.

What could hold each player back from winning the job? For Harris, it is runs outside the tackles. Harris averaged only 2.5 yards per carry on outside runs last year, while Chaney averaged 10.4. Harris averaged 5.6 yards per carry on runs inside the tackles and just seems more comfortable with less space to read. Harris also wore down as the season went on and saw his playing time reduce.

For Chaney, it is pass protection. Chaney allowed an incredible 7 pressures on only 21 pass blocking sets and allowed his QB to be sacked twice. If Chaney cannot pass block, you cannot play him because it is a tell to the defense that you’re going to run the ball. Additionally, Chaney rushed for only 3.9 yards per carry on runs inside the tackles. He needs to be more productive between the tackles and not just on outside runs.

For Knighton, it’s being more productive when given opportunities. He was an excellent pass protector, allowing zero pressures on 22 pass sets, but that’s not enough to get more carries. Averaging only 4.0 yards per rush last season, he lacked the big plays to make up for his overall inefficiency and reluctance to press the hole on designed run plays.

What does Miami do on the defensive line?
Miami loses some serious talent along the defensive line as Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche depart, taking their 1,124 snaps, 15 sacks, and 78 pressures with them.

Dipping into the transfer portal once again, Miami brought in DeAndre Johnson from Tennessee and he should be a serviceable starter on one side. Johnson produced 13 pressures on 168 pass snaps last year and four sacks, for a pressure rate of 7.7%. That is a pedestrian percentage, with the hope that Miami gets more out of him by putting him in a position to attack upfield, rather than the scheme he was used in last year.

Miami wants Jahfari Harvey to win the other starting DE job after supplying 12 pressures and two sacks on 145 pass snaps last season (8.3% pressure rate). Harvey has the talent to be an above-average starter at the position but has yet to put it all together at Miami.

Two younger edge players will look to fill out the rotation in Chantz Williams and Elijah Roberts. Both played sparingly in 2020 but have a lot of talent. Chantz is a twitchy pass rusher type, while Roberts is more of an inside/outside strongside DE type.

Two other players who will be pushing for a role are Cameron Williams, who reportedly was eyeing the transfer portal, and Zach McCloud, a converted LB who has taken to the DE position much quicker than expected. He could even start this season if he continues to progress. A position to monitor, as the success of the defense is predicated on pressure.

Who will take a step forward at DT?
For Miami to return to their dominant defensive ways, Miami will need a DT to take the next step towards All-American status. When Miami is at its best, there is a double-team demanding wrecking ball in the middle of the defense.

Enter Nesta Silvera. Becoming a starter for the first time in 2020, Silvera was a force when allowed to attack the ball carrier, finishing with 11 tackles for loss or no gain (2nd in Power-5 among DT’s). Silvera also pressured the QB on 11% of his pass rush attempts (25th in the country). Where Silvera struggled was when he lost sight of the ball and allowed himself to be trapped by a pulling G/T or when he failed to hold up OL trying to release him to get to second level. As he gains experience and new tricks going into his second year, expect Silvera to take a step forward towards All-ACC level play.

For Miami to get to where they need to be, another DT is going to have to emerge to soak up double teams on the interior. Too often last season the second DT was single blocked effectively, freeing up an OL to attack our LB’s. Harrison-Hunte has the talent to be an attacking 3-technique inside but seemed to fade as the season wore on. Jordan Miller looks to be in much better shape this season and might be able to provide some snaps if Jonathan Ford does not take another step forward. Ford provided a run stop (at or within one yard of LOS) on 8% of his run defensive snaps last year, which is virtually identical to Silvera. Miller was only at 4% last year and needs to improve in this area.

What does Miami do at the LB position?
Almost any Miami fan you speak to wants to know the answer to this question. Miami struggled at the position all season last year and didn’t add any players expected to make an immediate impact at the position. At least from outside the roster, as Keontra Smith was moved to WLB this offseason and seemed to really take to the position. With Sam Brooks seemingly forever hampered by a toe injury, Smith has an opportunity to take the starting job.

The hope is that Corey Flagg can win the MLB job and be credible at the position. To do so, Flagg needs to improve markedly in his run defense as he provided a run stop on only 2.8% of his run snaps. This was dead last among ACC LB’s who played at least a hundred snaps. (Bradley Jennings was at 10.3%). His issue is that he is a step slow to attack at times and when he does meet the ballcarrier he is often dragged for a few yards due to a lack of size. With another year in the weight room the hope is he can take another step forward. As a for instance, James Skalski of Clemson added a run stop on 16.7% of his run snaps. The DT play could really help this area as well by keeping the LB’s clean to attack and make plays.

On the bright side, Flagg only missed one tackle last year (5.9%) while Bradley Jennings missed eight (16.3%). Miami doesn’t need dynamic plays at the position, they just need to get the man on the ground.

There is no sugarcoating that this position was quite poor last year and even a great improvement will merely get them to average. In 2019, Shaq Quarterman contributed 51 solo tackles, 15.5 TFL, 7 QB hits. Last year, Miami’s top-4 LB’s contributed 82 solo tackles, 20 TFL, 2 QB hits combined. The Miami defense gave up 2.9 yards after contact last year, worst in the ACC.

Will the CB’s take the next step?
It might surprise you to learn that Miami’s secondary played pretty well last season, allowing the second-fewest explosive pass plays in ACC and third-fewest Yards/Attempt to WR’s. Miami did similarly even when the QB was not pressured, finishing 4th in Yards per Attempt when not getting pressure on the QB. (Per David Hale of ESPN)

Now Miami adds their best CB through the transfer portal without losing anyone of significance at the position. Ty’Rique Stevenson is a former 5-star recruit who will provide that big-bodied CB that the Miami coaching staff loves. Listed at 6’, 215 pounds, Stevenson will be able to shadow the opposing teams’ best WR with his physicality and athleticism.

The presence of Stevenson should allow Te’Cory Couch to move inside to his more natural slot CB position and strengthen two positions at once.

New DB’s coach Travaris Robinson believes that CB DJ Ivey has all-conference potential and just needs confidence. Ivey was targeted 43 times last year, allowing 23 completions. The problem was those receptions were often explosive plays.

Can the safety/striker group fulfill their potential?
Miami lost a talented safety recently with the dismissal of Avantae Williams, but there is still plenty of returning talent in pre-season All-ACC Bubba Bolden and Gurvan Hall. Adding two elite newcomers in James Williams and Kamren Kinchens raises the ceiling but also the learning curve.

Gilbert Frierson looks ready to develop into an impact defender at the striker position. Frierson pressured the QB on an absurd 24% of his pass rush attempts last year and had a run stop on 9.4% of his run downs as well. If he can clean up his tackling (11 missed tackles for a 16.2% rate), he can become an overall weapon for the defense. Depth will be added by Amari Carter and impressive newcomer Chase Smith.

Will the younger Borregales adequately replace the elder?
Jose Borregales was a gift from the football heavens last year as a kicker. When he trotted out onto the field I was as confident as I can remember being as a Miami fan. After years of kicker dread, it was a great feeling. Now Borregales has taken his golden leg to the league and the younger Borregales (Andres) join the team. He was reportedly impressive in spring, but the regular season is a different animal.

Team Questions:

What will change with Manny Diaz taking over defensive play calling?

The biggest change will be a return to a blitz happy defense. Miami blitzed on 35.3% of defensive snaps last year, a steep decline from 42% blitz rate when Diaz was the DC. To give that some context, that is essentially 60 fewer blitzes over the course of a season (a large number).

While some of the issue is directly tied to a deficiency at LB and DT, Miami was only 95th in run stop percentage last year, a steep decline from when Diaz was the DC (one season they finished 1st). Expect to see more run blitzes and a simplification of gap responsibility so that players can attack their gaps more soundly, as opposed to under Baker, where players tended to be asked to read across gaps more often.

Look for Miami to play less cover-1 coverage this season (33.7% of the time, 18th most in the country) and more cover-2 and cover-3 (where they were in the 90’s in both) to limit explosive plays a bit more.

What will Coach Shoop bring as an analyst?
Typically, an analyst will be tasked with game planning for future opponents, whereas current coaches are tasked with game planning for that week’s opponent and not look forward. Additionally, Shoop will be tasked with helping players with film study. An analyst can watch film with players any time and his experience gives unique perspective on scouting opposing players’ tendencies. Specifically, Shoop’s background is with safeties. Finally, Shoop will help self-scout Miami’s play-calling. Bringing it to coaches’ attention when plays are falling into a pattern on offense or advising patterns on the opposing teams’ offense. He could be a big addition.

Where can Miami’s offense improve?
The obvious answer is the run game, but I will say the biggest improvement needs to come on 1st down. Miami had a 39.8% success rate on 1st down last year (meaning they gained 5+ yards on 1st down just 39.8% of the time). This was 96th in the country and far behind Alabama’s 56.7%. To be a better offense, Miami has got to improve on 1st down.

When Miami did get into the red zone, they have been abysmal. Finishing 119th at 56.4% TD rate.

Miami finished an extremely poor 97th in Expected Points Added in the run game (-0.158 points every time they ran the ball last season). Miami faced 2nd & 10+ on 60% of 2nd down passes last year. Miami was 11th in the ACC averaging 4.2 yards per rush on 1st down.

Less reliance on the explosive play. Miami finished with an explosive play rate of 14.09% (28th in the country), but they were feast-or-famine with the big plays. When teams shut down the big plays, they tended to shut down Miami.

Where can Miami’s defense improve?
Miami was a pedestrian defense in most respects last year, finishing 44th in Expected Points Added against the pass (-0.006) and a dreadful 89th against the run (-0.001). It is quite unusual for a defense to allow fewer Expected Points per play against the pass than the run.

Defensive penalties. Miami had a penalty on 48.3% of the drives they allowed points (5th worst in the country and the worst P-5 team).

Which freshmen should be expected to help immediately?
With Miami needing to be able to rely on eight WR’s to run their pace, expect one of Romello Brinson or Brashard Smith to carve out a role this season.

Leonard Taylor is too explosive to keep off-the-field and could find a situational pass rusher role at either strong-side DE or at 3-technique in certain packages.

James Williams has an opportunity to start if he assimilates quickly and Gurvan Hall does not lock down the job. Same thing for Kameron Kinchens.

Cody Brown could fill a role as a hammer RB in short-yardage.

Who wins backup QB job?
Expect TVD’s experience and calm demeanor to allow him to edge out Jake Garcia for the backup job. The added benefit that it reduces the chances of an immediate transfer for TVD if he loses the job against a player a year behind him probably plays a small part as well.

What is the season outlook for Miami?
I put the Over/Under for Miami at 9 wins. If Miami only wins 8 games, that signals a stalled season. With the number of returning players and impact transfers on this team, I believe the expectation should be 9 wins. Anything less and you have to start to question the process. 10 wins and you’re cooking with gas. 9 wins is about the expectation.

To me, this the best overall roster Miami has had in 15 years. There are some question marks- such as the LB position and DE depth- but the places where Miami has lacked impact talent and experience over the years is now in place. QB King is the best QB since maybe Toretta. There is legitimate depth and experience in multiple places to be an excellent team.

I saw a stat that teams that:
  • Won 8+ games in 2020
  • Have 3+ top-20 recruiting classes in 4 years
  • Return their QB and HC
  • Georgia, Washington, Miami, UNC, Oklahoma
It’s time to win, Canes fans. That time starts with the return of Fall camp. Enjoy.
 

Comments (84)

My question would be:

Who is allowed to watch and can we expect some reports on CIS?
 
GREAT WRITEUP! Always enjoy these! (Btw, dont you mean 8-3?)
 
Amazing write up

Donaldson is a guy I can’t wait to see this year. We’ve seen some guys step up their senior years on the OL in recent years to finish with solid careers, and he’s much much more talented than they were
 
That wonderful sound you will soon be hearing on Greentree is the sound of another fall camp opening up for our beloved Miami Hurricanes. Miami is coming off a decent season when they finished 8-3 but were close to breaking through for more. What questions remain for the 2021 Hurricanes? What is the season outlook for this group? Want to see my season prediction? Read on for the Miami Fall Camp, Upon Further Review style.

Individual Questions:

What type of talent returns for Miami this season?

Miami returns 93% of their total snaps on offense and 87% of their total snaps on defense. The talent is in place to take a big step forward, but just as importantly, the experience is in place that Miami has not had in many years.

How did that talent fare in 2020?
In S&P+, Miami finished the season 20th overall, with the offense finishing 33rd overall, the defense finishing 31st, and special teams finishing 3rd overall. This ranking is fairly similar to their AP finish, which was 22nd in the country.

What will D’Eriq King look like in year two of the offense?
Clearly, Rhett Lashlee and the Miami coaching staff set out to design an offense to accentuate the strengths of transfer QB D’Eriq King. King has proven to be an excellent thrower of the deep ball and excels in extending plays in the backfield while keeping his eyes downfield. The result was Miami throwing deep on 21.0% of their pass plays, which was 24th most in the nation. Additionally, Miami took advantage of the college rules that tend to favor offense by going from 99th in the country in RPO rate, to 10th last year. I mentioned the college rules, and one of the rules that Miami tried to exploit more often was the rule that you can block downfield as long as the pass is thrown behind the LOS. Miami threw the ball behind the LOS 32.6% of the time in 2020, which ranked 9th in the country.

What does all this mean for Miami in 2021? Expect Coach Lashlee to expand the offense more this year as he has more time for installation this year after COVID impacted everyone in 2020, but especially teams with new coaches/coordinators.

The WR room struggled in 2020, what should we expect to see in 2021?
Miami as an offense wants to play at break-neck speed. They want to run 80, 90, or even 100 plays a game. This means that Miami needs to have as many as eight WR’s who they can trust to play in games. This is a tall task due to the fact last year Miami had one WR they could consistently trust, in Mike Harley. Last year, in the ACC Miami ranked 11th in percentage of targets going for a 1st down or TD. They ranked 12th in catch rate on throws beyond 10 yards. For an offense that wants to stress the defense deep, this sort of conversion rate is too inefficient to take them where they want to be.

To help with this, Miami brought in Oklahoma transfer Charleston Rambo. Rambo was a disappointment in 2020, as he just never meshed with the offense, but in 2019 he was a force. Rambo was 3rd in the Big-12 in percentage of targets to result in 15+ yards at 28.6%. The threat of Rambo deep should do wonders to open up space for other players.

Miami is hopeful that depth has been improved at the position. In spring camp, Harley, Rambo, Restrepo, and Keyshawn Smith looked like a reliable foursome. The coaches moved Mark Pope inside to the slot to give him more free releases and hopefully unlock his big play potential. Pope has struggled with drops throughout his career though and to be trusted will need to get off to a strong start in camp. Dee Wiggins has also struggled with drops and other issues during his time with Miami and it remains to be seen if he can take a step forward after an average spring camp.

Can this team replace Brevin Jordan and his big-play ability at TE?
Bevin was a dynamic playmaker when he was on the field, but all-too-often he was missed games and was held out of action. Will Mallory did an excellent job as a receiver last year, finishing at 11.0 Yards/Target, which was 6th in the country for TE’s. As he has gained weight and strength you have slowly seen his blocking improve as well. Keeping Mallory healthy will be important for an offense that lacks proven depth at the position, but plenty of talented options.

What should we expect from the OL this season?
In pass sets last year, Miami allowed 63 pressures and 11 sacks, with 7 penalties (only OL). That clearly will not be good enough and the 2.9% pressure rate was below-average. Miami will be looking for steps forward in this area by making a few changes up front. Expect Jalen Rivers to take over the LG spot after Jakai Clark was injured in an auto accident. Rivers played only 11 pass sets last year, while it was a clean sheet, he did struggle some with technique. He’s a large human with surprisingly nimble feet. He needs to take a large step forward.

Speaking of steps forward, Miami will look for Navaughn Donaldson to fulfill his immense potential as a senior. Donaldson played 12 pass snaps last year and also had a clean sheet. If the two guards on this OL can provide even average play this year, it will be a massive upgrade over what we saw last year.

At LT, Miami has their first potential 1st round pick since Ereck Flowers several years ago. Zion Nelson made massive steps forward last year, going from one of the worst LT’s in college football to above average. If he can take the next step this year towards being great, it could solidify Miami’s offense as one of the elites. Nelson allowed pressure on 3.4% of his 355 pass sets, and Miami would like to see that number under 2% this season.

Miami is looking at another newcomer entering the starting lineup as DJ Scaife has held off incumbent Jarrid Williams all throughout spring camp. Scaife is a better T than he is G and should rebound from a poor season at RG. Scaife allowed pressure on 3.9% of his 435 pass snaps and that is a very poor number. Miami needs him to be under 3% this season on the outside. Jarrid Williams’ numbers from last year as a baseline that Scaife needs to clear to maintain the starting job (2.6% pressure on 387 pass sets and two sacks allowed).

Gaynor had times where he struggled to maintain the LOS and was pushed back, but there is no denying that Miami was productive when running into his gap last season, where he had a missed block rate of 0.80% (1st in ACC) and Miami average 2.3 yards before contact on run plays up the middle (2nd in ACC). He’s turned into a steady performer that can be counted on to make line calls and hit his assignment, though he will rarely dominate or pancake anyone.

Who wins the RB job?
Coach Lashlee is on-record in saying he wants to have a bell cow RB this season, but who that could be remains a mystery. Cam’Ron Harris is the incumbent, who turned in Miami’s two best rushing days of the season in the first two games of the year. Donald Chaney is probably the most talented of the group; but is coming off a shoulder injury and has questions with pass-blocking. Knighton is the most explosive of the group, but also the lightest at 205 pounds.

What could hold each player back from winning the job? For Harris, it is runs outside the tackles. Harris averaged only 2.5 yards per carry on outside runs last year, while Chaney averaged 10.4. Harris averaged 5.6 yards per carry on runs inside the tackles and just seems more comfortable with less space to read. Harris also wore down as the season went on and saw his playing time reduce.

For Chaney, it is pass protection. Chaney allowed an incredible 7 pressures on only 21 pass blocking sets and allowed his QB to be sacked twice. If Chaney cannot pass block, you cannot play him because it is a tell to the defense that you’re going to run the ball. Additionally, Chaney rushed for only 3.9 yards per carry on runs inside the tackles. He needs to be more productive between the tackles and not just on outside runs.

For Knighton, it’s being more productive when given opportunities. He was an excellent pass protector, allowing zero pressures on 22 pass sets, but that’s not enough to get more carries. Averaging only 4.0 yards per rush last season, he lacked the big plays to make up for his overall inefficiency and reluctance to press the hole on designed run plays.

What does Miami do on the defensive line?
Miami loses some serious talent along the defensive line as Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche depart, taking their 1,124 snaps, 15 sacks, and 78 pressures with them.

Dipping into the transfer portal once again, Miami brought in DeAndre Johnson from Tennessee and he should be a serviceable starter on one side. Johnson produced 13 pressures on 168 pass snaps last year and four sacks, for a pressure rate of 7.7%. That is a pedestrian percentage, with the hope that Miami gets more out of him by putting him in a position to attack upfield, rather than the scheme he was used in last year.

Miami wants Jahfari Harvey to win the other starting DE job after supplying 12 pressures and two sacks on 145 pass snaps last season (8.3% pressure rate). Harvey has the talent to be an above-average starter at the position but has yet to put it all together at Miami.

Two younger edge players will look to fill out the rotation in Chantz Williams and Elijah Roberts. Both played sparingly in 2020 but have a lot of talent. Chantz is a twitchy pass rusher type, while Roberts is more of an inside/outside strongside DE type.

Two other players who will be pushing for a role are Cameron Williams, who reportedly was eyeing the transfer portal, and Zach McCloud, a converted LB who has taken to the DE position much quicker than expected. He could even start this season if he continues to progress. A position to monitor, as the success of the defense is predicated on pressure.

Who will take a step forward at DT?
For Miami to return to their dominant defensive ways, Miami will need a DT to take the next step towards All-American status. When Miami is at its best, there is a double-team demanding wrecking ball in the middle of the defense.

Enter Nesta Silvera. Becoming a starter for the first time in 2020, Silvera was a force when allowed to attack the ball carrier, finishing with 11 tackles for loss or no gain (2nd in Power-5 among DT’s). Silvera also pressured the QB on 11% of his pass rush attempts (25th in the country). Where Silvera struggled was when he lost sight of the ball and allowed himself to be trapped by a pulling G/T or when he failed to hold up OL trying to release him to get to second level. As he gains experience and new tricks going into his second year, expect Silvera to take a step forward towards All-ACC level play.

For Miami to get to where they need to be, another DT is going to have to emerge to soak up double teams on the interior. Too often last season the second DT was single blocked effectively, freeing up an OL to attack our LB’s. Harrison-Hunte has the talent to be an attacking 3-technique inside but seemed to fade as the season wore on. Jordan Miller looks to be in much better shape this season and might be able to provide some snaps if Jonathan Ford does not take another step forward. Ford provided a run stop (at or within one yard of LOS) on 8% of his run defensive snaps last year, which is virtually identical to Silvera. Miller was only at 4% last year and needs to improve in this area.

What does Miami do at the LB position?
Almost any Miami fan you speak to wants to know the answer to this question. Miami struggled at the position all season last year and didn’t add any players expected to make an immediate impact at the position. At least from outside the roster, as Keontra Smith was moved to WLB this offseason and seemed to really take to the position. With Sam Brooks seemingly forever hampered by a toe injury, Smith has an opportunity to take the starting job.

The hope is that Corey Flagg can win the MLB job and be credible at the position. To do so, Flagg needs to improve markedly in his run defense as he provided a run stop on only 2.8% of his run snaps. This was dead last among ACC LB’s who played at least a hundred snaps. (Bradley Jennings was at 10.3%). His issue is that he is a step slow to attack at times and when he does meet the ballcarrier he is often dragged for a few yards due to a lack of size. With another year in the weight room the hope is he can take another step forward. As a for instance, James Skalski of Clemson added a run stop on 16.7% of his run snaps. The DT play could really help this area as well by keeping the LB’s clean to attack and make plays.

On the bright side, Flagg only missed one tackle last year (5.9%) while Bradley Jennings missed eight (16.3%). Miami doesn’t need dynamic plays at the position, they just need to get the man on the ground.

There is no sugarcoating that this position was quite poor last year and even a great improvement will merely get them to average. In 2019, Shaq Quarterman contributed 51 solo tackles, 15.5 TFL, 7 QB hits. Last year, Miami’s top-4 LB’s contributed 82 solo tackles, 20 TFL, 2 QB hits combined. The Miami defense gave up 2.9 yards after contact last year, worst in the ACC.

Will the CB’s take the next step?
It might surprise you to learn that Miami’s secondary played pretty well last season, allowing the second-fewest explosive pass plays in ACC and third-fewest Yards/Attempt to WR’s. Miami did similarly even when the QB was not pressured, finishing 4th in Yards per Attempt when not getting pressure on the QB. (Per David Hale of ESPN)

Now Miami adds their best CB through the transfer portal without losing anyone of significance at the position. Ty’Rique Stevenson is a former 5-star recruit who will provide that big-bodied CB that the Miami coaching staff loves. Listed at 6’, 215 pounds, Stevenson will be able to shadow the opposing teams’ best WR with his physicality and athleticism.

The presence of Stevenson should allow Te’Cory Couch to move inside to his more natural slot CB position and strengthen two positions at once.

New DB’s coach Travaris Robinson believes that CB DJ Ivey has all-conference potential and just needs confidence. Ivey was targeted 43 times last year, allowing 23 completions. The problem was those receptions were often explosive plays.

Can the safety/striker group fulfill their potential?
Miami lost a talented safety recently with the dismissal of Avantae Williams, but there is still plenty of returning talent in pre-season All-ACC Bubba Bolden and Gurvan Hall. Adding two elite newcomers in James Williams and Kamren Kinchens raises the ceiling but also the learning curve.

Gilbert Frierson looks ready to develop into an impact defender at the striker position. Frierson pressured the QB on an absurd 24% of his pass rush attempts last year and had a run stop on 9.4% of his run downs as well. If he can clean up his tackling (11 missed tackles for a 16.2% rate), he can become an overall weapon for the defense. Depth will be added by Amari Carter and impressive newcomer Chase Smith.

Will the younger Borregales adequately replace the elder?
Jose Borregales was a gift from the football heavens last year as a kicker. When he trotted out onto the field I was as confident as I can remember being as a Miami fan. After years of kicker dread, it was a great feeling. Now Borregales has taken his golden leg to the league and the younger Borregales (Andres) join the team. He was reportedly impressive in spring, but the regular season is a different animal.

Team Questions:

What will change with Manny Diaz taking over defensive play calling?

The biggest change will be a return to a blitz happy defense. Miami blitzed on 35.3% of defensive snaps last year, a steep decline from 42% blitz rate when Diaz was the DC. To give that some context, that is essentially 60 fewer blitzes over the course of a season (a large number).

While some of the issue is directly tied to a deficiency at LB and DT, Miami was only 95th in run stop percentage last year, a steep decline from when Diaz was the DC (one season they finished 1st). Expect to see more run blitzes and a simplification of gap responsibility so that players can attack their gaps more soundly, as opposed to under Baker, where players tended to be asked to read across gaps more often.

Look for Miami to play less cover-1 coverage this season (33.7% of the time, 18th most in the country) and more cover-2 and cover-3 (where they were in the 90’s in both) to limit explosive plays a bit more.

What will Coach Shoop bring as an analyst?
Typically, an analyst will be tasked with game planning for future opponents, whereas current coaches are tasked with game planning for that week’s opponent and not look forward. Additionally, Shoop will be tasked with helping players with film study. An analyst can watch film with players any time and his experience gives unique perspective on scouting opposing players’ tendencies. Specifically, Shoop’s background is with safeties. Finally, Shoop will help self-scout Miami’s play-calling. Bringing it to coaches’ attention when plays are falling into a pattern on offense or advising patterns on the opposing teams’ offense. He could be a big addition.

Where can Miami’s offense improve?
The obvious answer is the run game, but I will say the biggest improvement needs to come on 1st down. Miami had a 39.8% success rate on 1st down last year (meaning they gained 5+ yards on 1st down just 39.8% of the time). This was 96th in the country and far behind Alabama’s 56.7%. To be a better offense, Miami has got to improve on 1st down.

When Miami did get into the red zone, they have been abysmal. Finishing 119th at 56.4% TD rate.

Miami finished an extremely poor 97th in Expected Points Added in the run game (-0.158 points every time they ran the ball last season). Miami faced 2nd & 10+ on 60% of 2nd down passes last year. Miami was 11th in the ACC averaging 4.2 yards per rush on 1st down.

Less reliance on the explosive play. Miami finished with an explosive play rate of 14.09% (28th in the country), but they were feast-or-famine with the big plays. When teams shut down the big plays, they tended to shut down Miami.

Where can Miami’s defense improve?
Miami was a pedestrian defense in most respects last year, finishing 44th in Expected Points Added against the pass (-0.006) and a dreadful 89th against the run (-0.001). It is quite unusual for a defense to allow fewer Expected Points per play against the pass than the run.

Defensive penalties. Miami had a penalty on 48.3% of the drives they allowed points (5th worst in the country and the worst P-5 team).

Which freshmen should be expected to help immediately?
With Miami needing to be able to rely on eight WR’s to run their pace, expect one of Romello Brinson or Brashard Smith to carve out a role this season.

Leonard Taylor is too explosive to keep off-the-field and could find a situational pass rusher role at either strong-side DE or at 3-technique in certain packages.

James Williams has an opportunity to start if he assimilates quickly and Gurvan Hall does not lock down the job. Same thing for Kameron Kinchens.

Cody Brown could fill a role as a hammer RB in short-yardage.

Who wins backup QB job?
Expect TVD’s experience and calm demeanor to allow him to edge out Jake Garcia for the backup job. The added benefit that it reduces the chances of an immediate transfer for TVD if he loses the job against a player a year behind him probably plays a small part as well.

What is the season outlook for Miami?
I put the Over/Under for Miami at 9 wins. If Miami only wins 8 games, that signals a stalled season. With the number of returning players and impact transfers on this team, I believe the expectation should be 9 wins. Anything less and you have to start to question the process. 10 wins and you’re cooking with gas. 9 wins is about the expectation.

To me, this the best overall roster Miami has had in 15 years. There are some question marks- such as the LB position and DE depth- but the places where Miami has lacked impact talent and experience over the years is now in place. QB King is the best QB since maybe Toretta. There is legitimate depth and experience in multiple places to be an excellent team.

I saw a stat that teams that:
  • Won 8+ games in 2020
  • Have 3+ top-20 recruiting classes in 4 years
  • Return their QB and HC
  • Georgia, Washington, Miami, UNC, Oklahoma
It’s time to win, Canes fans. That time starts with the return of Fall camp. Enjoy.
Is it really Upon Further Review?

Is it a mirage?

Need quality porster putting up great content... the thirst... it burns....

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Welcome back!
 
@Lance Roffers

Has Manny confirmed that he will call plays? I thought I saw someone mention recently that it was still up in the air.
 
If you had to give a “Manny Diaz is on the hot seat if he gets this record” situation what would it be since most fans think it would be 8-4 or worse.
 
I think a 9 win season would be a disappointment with the talent this year unless something flukey happens like still winning the acc coastal.

10 should be the absolute floor. I think that is reasonable. In a non covid season, last years team likely wins 10 and I don't think we've significantly regressed personnel-wise. Cooking with gas is 11 wins. Exceptional is 12. 15-0 is the top of the mountain.

9 wins would not bode well for Diaz. 2022's schedule is brutal. If Miami wins only 9 in 2021 and then has a bad 2022 (say 8 W or less) I don't think Diaz makes it to 2023. He needs to get 10 this year to buy himself some time. Unfortunately for Diaz, he had an awful start (6 wins) then a likely 10 win season gets shortened by covid so on paper it looks like a pedestrian 8 win season, then if he has a 9 win season followed by 8 or less, I think he's out.

If 2020 had been normal, he could get make it to year 5 with a 4 yr record of 6, 10, 9, 8.

With 6, 8, 10, 8 there would be grumbles and people would demand some changes like they did with Richt, but he keeps his job. 6, 8, 9, 8 and he's toast.
 
Last edited:
@Lance Roffers

What does your gut tell you about Bama v Miami?

My heart wants the W, or respectably close.

My broken brain says Bama by 30+. The OLine will fail, O will sputter, D will be put into impossible position.


If our Canes fall flat in ACC play, how much longer can BoT hold on to HCMD?
 
I think last years roster was more talented especially on defense so I’m not sure we don’t see about the same.

The X factor is if the coaching in D is much better.
 
Love the write up and agree with everything expect king being an excellent deep ball thrower. There were multiple times last year he lacked underthrew guys. I’d be interested to see what his deep ball completion was % factoring out all of the drops.
 
If you had to give a “Manny Diaz is on the hot seat if he gets this record” situation what would it be since most fans think it would be 8-4 or worse.
7-5. 8-4 would just make things uncomfortable.

From what I understand fans expectations are higher than the administration expectations.

Maybe it’s more rational, or maybe it’s a little bit of indifference. I can’t say for sure there.
 
I know much is made about returning production but I’d be curious to see a breakdown of where other teams stand. Not sure it’s as big of a positive in certain areas like OL as some fans may think tbh
 
@Lance Roffers

What does your gut tell you about Bama v Miami?

My heart wants the W, or respectably close.

My broken brain says Bama by 30+. The OLine will fail, O will sputter, D will be put into impossible position.


If our Canes fall flat in ACC play, how much longer can BoT hold on to HCMD?
I think it’s something like 52-28. Late garbage score makes it look better than it was.

Alabama is loaded with talent. At least three 1st round picks in 2022 draft most likely.

Could get early season Bama trying to get into a flow and then hope. Their system is a really bad matchup for last years Miami on both sides.
 
Love the write up and agree with everything expect king being an excellent deep ball thrower. There were multiple times last year he lacked underthrew guys. I’d be interested to see what his deep ball completion was % factoring out all of the drops.
He certainly struggled early. No debate there.

Over the entirety of his career, he’s excelled as a deep ball passer.
 
That wonderful sound you will soon be hearing on Greentree is the sound of another fall camp opening up for our beloved Miami Hurricanes. Miami is coming off a decent season when they finished 8-3 but were close to breaking through for more. What questions remain for the 2021 Hurricanes? What is the season outlook for this group? Want to see my season prediction? Read on for the Miami Fall Camp, Upon Further Review style.

Individual Questions:

What type of talent returns for Miami this season?

Miami returns 93% of their total snaps on offense and 87% of their total snaps on defense. The talent is in place to take a big step forward, but just as importantly, the experience is in place that Miami has not had in many years.

How did that talent fare in 2020?
In S&P+, Miami finished the season 20th overall, with the offense finishing 33rd overall, the defense finishing 31st, and special teams finishing 3rd overall. This ranking is fairly similar to their AP finish, which was 22nd in the country.

What will D’Eriq King look like in year two of the offense?
Clearly, Rhett Lashlee and the Miami coaching staff set out to design an offense to accentuate the strengths of transfer QB D’Eriq King. King has proven to be an excellent thrower of the deep ball and excels in extending plays in the backfield while keeping his eyes downfield. The result was Miami throwing deep on 21.0% of their pass plays, which was 24th most in the nation. Additionally, Miami took advantage of the college rules that tend to favor offense by going from 99th in the country in RPO rate, to 10th last year. I mentioned the college rules, and one of the rules that Miami tried to exploit more often was the rule that you can block downfield as long as the pass is thrown behind the LOS. Miami threw the ball behind the LOS 32.6% of the time in 2020, which ranked 9th in the country.

What does all this mean for Miami in 2021? Expect Coach Lashlee to expand the offense more this year as he has more time for installation this year after COVID impacted everyone in 2020, but especially teams with new coaches/coordinators.

The WR room struggled in 2020, what should we expect to see in 2021?
Miami as an offense wants to play at break-neck speed. They want to run 80, 90, or even 100 plays a game. This means that Miami needs to have as many as eight WR’s who they can trust to play in games. This is a tall task due to the fact last year Miami had one WR they could consistently trust, in Mike Harley. Last year, in the ACC Miami ranked 11th in percentage of targets going for a 1st down or TD. They ranked 12th in catch rate on throws beyond 10 yards. For an offense that wants to stress the defense deep, this sort of conversion rate is too inefficient to take them where they want to be.

To help with this, Miami brought in Oklahoma transfer Charleston Rambo. Rambo was a disappointment in 2020, as he just never meshed with the offense, but in 2019 he was a force. Rambo was 3rd in the Big-12 in percentage of targets to result in 15+ yards at 28.6%. The threat of Rambo deep should do wonders to open up space for other players.

Miami is hopeful that depth has been improved at the position. In spring camp, Harley, Rambo, Restrepo, and Keyshawn Smith looked like a reliable foursome. The coaches moved Mark Pope inside to the slot to give him more free releases and hopefully unlock his big play potential. Pope has struggled with drops throughout his career though and to be trusted will need to get off to a strong start in camp. Dee Wiggins has also struggled with drops and other issues during his time with Miami and it remains to be seen if he can take a step forward after an average spring camp.

Can this team replace Brevin Jordan and his big-play ability at TE?
Bevin was a dynamic playmaker when he was on the field, but all-too-often he was missed games and was held out of action. Will Mallory did an excellent job as a receiver last year, finishing at 11.0 Yards/Target, which was 6th in the country for TE’s. As he has gained weight and strength you have slowly seen his blocking improve as well. Keeping Mallory healthy will be important for an offense that lacks proven depth at the position, but plenty of talented options.

What should we expect from the OL this season?
In pass sets last year, Miami allowed 63 pressures and 11 sacks, with 7 penalties (only OL). That clearly will not be good enough and the 2.9% pressure rate was below-average. Miami will be looking for steps forward in this area by making a few changes up front. Expect Jalen Rivers to take over the LG spot after Jakai Clark was injured in an auto accident. Rivers played only 11 pass sets last year, while it was a clean sheet, he did struggle some with technique. He’s a large human with surprisingly nimble feet. He needs to take a large step forward.

Speaking of steps forward, Miami will look for Navaughn Donaldson to fulfill his immense potential as a senior. Donaldson played 12 pass snaps last year and also had a clean sheet. If the two guards on this OL can provide even average play this year, it will be a massive upgrade over what we saw last year.

At LT, Miami has their first potential 1st round pick since Ereck Flowers several years ago. Zion Nelson made massive steps forward last year, going from one of the worst LT’s in college football to above average. If he can take the next step this year towards being great, it could solidify Miami’s offense as one of the elites. Nelson allowed pressure on 3.4% of his 355 pass sets, and Miami would like to see that number under 2% this season.

Miami is looking at another newcomer entering the starting lineup as DJ Scaife has held off incumbent Jarrid Williams all throughout spring camp. Scaife is a better T than he is G and should rebound from a poor season at RG. Scaife allowed pressure on 3.9% of his 435 pass snaps and that is a very poor number. Miami needs him to be under 3% this season on the outside. Jarrid Williams’ numbers from last year as a baseline that Scaife needs to clear to maintain the starting job (2.6% pressure on 387 pass sets and two sacks allowed).

Gaynor had times where he struggled to maintain the LOS and was pushed back, but there is no denying that Miami was productive when running into his gap last season, where he had a missed block rate of 0.80% (1st in ACC) and Miami average 2.3 yards before contact on run plays up the middle (2nd in ACC). He’s turned into a steady performer that can be counted on to make line calls and hit his assignment, though he will rarely dominate or pancake anyone.

Who wins the RB job?
Coach Lashlee is on-record in saying he wants to have a bell cow RB this season, but who that could be remains a mystery. Cam’Ron Harris is the incumbent, who turned in Miami’s two best rushing days of the season in the first two games of the year. Donald Chaney is probably the most talented of the group; but is coming off a shoulder injury and has questions with pass-blocking. Knighton is the most explosive of the group, but also the lightest at 205 pounds.

What could hold each player back from winning the job? For Harris, it is runs outside the tackles. Harris averaged only 2.5 yards per carry on outside runs last year, while Chaney averaged 10.4. Harris averaged 5.6 yards per carry on runs inside the tackles and just seems more comfortable with less space to read. Harris also wore down as the season went on and saw his playing time reduce.

For Chaney, it is pass protection. Chaney allowed an incredible 7 pressures on only 21 pass blocking sets and allowed his QB to be sacked twice. If Chaney cannot pass block, you cannot play him because it is a tell to the defense that you’re going to run the ball. Additionally, Chaney rushed for only 3.9 yards per carry on runs inside the tackles. He needs to be more productive between the tackles and not just on outside runs.

For Knighton, it’s being more productive when given opportunities. He was an excellent pass protector, allowing zero pressures on 22 pass sets, but that’s not enough to get more carries. Averaging only 4.0 yards per rush last season, he lacked the big plays to make up for his overall inefficiency and reluctance to press the hole on designed run plays.

What does Miami do on the defensive line?
Miami loses some serious talent along the defensive line as Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche depart, taking their 1,124 snaps, 15 sacks, and 78 pressures with them.

Dipping into the transfer portal once again, Miami brought in DeAndre Johnson from Tennessee and he should be a serviceable starter on one side. Johnson produced 13 pressures on 168 pass snaps last year and four sacks, for a pressure rate of 7.7%. That is a pedestrian percentage, with the hope that Miami gets more out of him by putting him in a position to attack upfield, rather than the scheme he was used in last year.

Miami wants Jahfari Harvey to win the other starting DE job after supplying 12 pressures and two sacks on 145 pass snaps last season (8.3% pressure rate). Harvey has the talent to be an above-average starter at the position but has yet to put it all together at Miami.

Two younger edge players will look to fill out the rotation in Chantz Williams and Elijah Roberts. Both played sparingly in 2020 but have a lot of talent. Chantz is a twitchy pass rusher type, while Roberts is more of an inside/outside strongside DE type.

Two other players who will be pushing for a role are Cameron Williams, who reportedly was eyeing the transfer portal, and Zach McCloud, a converted LB who has taken to the DE position much quicker than expected. He could even start this season if he continues to progress. A position to monitor, as the success of the defense is predicated on pressure.

Who will take a step forward at DT?
For Miami to return to their dominant defensive ways, Miami will need a DT to take the next step towards All-American status. When Miami is at its best, there is a double-team demanding wrecking ball in the middle of the defense.

Enter Nesta Silvera. Becoming a starter for the first time in 2020, Silvera was a force when allowed to attack the ball carrier, finishing with 11 tackles for loss or no gain (2nd in Power-5 among DT’s). Silvera also pressured the QB on 11% of his pass rush attempts (25th in the country). Where Silvera struggled was when he lost sight of the ball and allowed himself to be trapped by a pulling G/T or when he failed to hold up OL trying to release him to get to second level. As he gains experience and new tricks going into his second year, expect Silvera to take a step forward towards All-ACC level play.

For Miami to get to where they need to be, another DT is going to have to emerge to soak up double teams on the interior. Too often last season the second DT was single blocked effectively, freeing up an OL to attack our LB’s. Harrison-Hunte has the talent to be an attacking 3-technique inside but seemed to fade as the season wore on. Jordan Miller looks to be in much better shape this season and might be able to provide some snaps if Jonathan Ford does not take another step forward. Ford provided a run stop (at or within one yard of LOS) on 8% of his run defensive snaps last year, which is virtually identical to Silvera. Miller was only at 4% last year and needs to improve in this area.

What does Miami do at the LB position?
Almost any Miami fan you speak to wants to know the answer to this question. Miami struggled at the position all season last year and didn’t add any players expected to make an immediate impact at the position. At least from outside the roster, as Keontra Smith was moved to WLB this offseason and seemed to really take to the position. With Sam Brooks seemingly forever hampered by a toe injury, Smith has an opportunity to take the starting job.

The hope is that Corey Flagg can win the MLB job and be credible at the position. To do so, Flagg needs to improve markedly in his run defense as he provided a run stop on only 2.8% of his run snaps. This was dead last among ACC LB’s who played at least a hundred snaps. (Bradley Jennings was at 10.3%). His issue is that he is a step slow to attack at times and when he does meet the ballcarrier he is often dragged for a few yards due to a lack of size. With another year in the weight room the hope is he can take another step forward. As a for instance, James Skalski of Clemson added a run stop on 16.7% of his run snaps. The DT play could really help this area as well by keeping the LB’s clean to attack and make plays.

On the bright side, Flagg only missed one tackle last year (5.9%) while Bradley Jennings missed eight (16.3%). Miami doesn’t need dynamic plays at the position, they just need to get the man on the ground.

There is no sugarcoating that this position was quite poor last year and even a great improvement will merely get them to average. In 2019, Shaq Quarterman contributed 51 solo tackles, 15.5 TFL, 7 QB hits. Last year, Miami’s top-4 LB’s contributed 82 solo tackles, 20 TFL, 2 QB hits combined. The Miami defense gave up 2.9 yards after contact last year, worst in the ACC.

Will the CB’s take the next step?
It might surprise you to learn that Miami’s secondary played pretty well last season, allowing the second-fewest explosive pass plays in ACC and third-fewest Yards/Attempt to WR’s. Miami did similarly even when the QB was not pressured, finishing 4th in Yards per Attempt when not getting pressure on the QB. (Per David Hale of ESPN)

Now Miami adds their best CB through the transfer portal without losing anyone of significance at the position. Ty’Rique Stevenson is a former 5-star recruit who will provide that big-bodied CB that the Miami coaching staff loves. Listed at 6’, 215 pounds, Stevenson will be able to shadow the opposing teams’ best WR with his physicality and athleticism.

The presence of Stevenson should allow Te’Cory Couch to move inside to his more natural slot CB position and strengthen two positions at once.

New DB’s coach Travaris Robinson believes that CB DJ Ivey has all-conference potential and just needs confidence. Ivey was targeted 43 times last year, allowing 23 completions. The problem was those receptions were often explosive plays.

Can the safety/striker group fulfill their potential?
Miami lost a talented safety recently with the dismissal of Avantae Williams, but there is still plenty of returning talent in pre-season All-ACC Bubba Bolden and Gurvan Hall. Adding two elite newcomers in James Williams and Kamren Kinchens raises the ceiling but also the learning curve.

Gilbert Frierson looks ready to develop into an impact defender at the striker position. Frierson pressured the QB on an absurd 24% of his pass rush attempts last year and had a run stop on 9.4% of his run downs as well. If he can clean up his tackling (11 missed tackles for a 16.2% rate), he can become an overall weapon for the defense. Depth will be added by Amari Carter and impressive newcomer Chase Smith.

Will the younger Borregales adequately replace the elder?
Jose Borregales was a gift from the football heavens last year as a kicker. When he trotted out onto the field I was as confident as I can remember being as a Miami fan. After years of kicker dread, it was a great feeling. Now Borregales has taken his golden leg to the league and the younger Borregales (Andres) join the team. He was reportedly impressive in spring, but the regular season is a different animal.

Team Questions:

What will change with Manny Diaz taking over defensive play calling?

The biggest change will be a return to a blitz happy defense. Miami blitzed on 35.3% of defensive snaps last year, a steep decline from 42% blitz rate when Diaz was the DC. To give that some context, that is essentially 60 fewer blitzes over the course of a season (a large number).

While some of the issue is directly tied to a deficiency at LB and DT, Miami was only 95th in run stop percentage last year, a steep decline from when Diaz was the DC (one season they finished 1st). Expect to see more run blitzes and a simplification of gap responsibility so that players can attack their gaps more soundly, as opposed to under Baker, where players tended to be asked to read across gaps more often.

Look for Miami to play less cover-1 coverage this season (33.7% of the time, 18th most in the country) and more cover-2 and cover-3 (where they were in the 90’s in both) to limit explosive plays a bit more.

What will Coach Shoop bring as an analyst?
Typically, an analyst will be tasked with game planning for future opponents, whereas current coaches are tasked with game planning for that week’s opponent and not look forward. Additionally, Shoop will be tasked with helping players with film study. An analyst can watch film with players any time and his experience gives unique perspective on scouting opposing players’ tendencies. Specifically, Shoop’s background is with safeties. Finally, Shoop will help self-scout Miami’s play-calling. Bringing it to coaches’ attention when plays are falling into a pattern on offense or advising patterns on the opposing teams’ offense. He could be a big addition.

Where can Miami’s offense improve?
The obvious answer is the run game, but I will say the biggest improvement needs to come on 1st down. Miami had a 39.8% success rate on 1st down last year (meaning they gained 5+ yards on 1st down just 39.8% of the time). This was 96th in the country and far behind Alabama’s 56.7%. To be a better offense, Miami has got to improve on 1st down.

When Miami did get into the red zone, they have been abysmal. Finishing 119th at 56.4% TD rate.

Miami finished an extremely poor 97th in Expected Points Added in the run game (-0.158 points every time they ran the ball last season). Miami faced 2nd & 10+ on 60% of 2nd down passes last year. Miami was 11th in the ACC averaging 4.2 yards per rush on 1st down.

Less reliance on the explosive play. Miami finished with an explosive play rate of 14.09% (28th in the country), but they were feast-or-famine with the big plays. When teams shut down the big plays, they tended to shut down Miami.

Where can Miami’s defense improve?
Miami was a pedestrian defense in most respects last year, finishing 44th in Expected Points Added against the pass (-0.006) and a dreadful 89th against the run (-0.001). It is quite unusual for a defense to allow fewer Expected Points per play against the pass than the run.

Defensive penalties. Miami had a penalty on 48.3% of the drives they allowed points (5th worst in the country and the worst P-5 team).

Which freshmen should be expected to help immediately?
With Miami needing to be able to rely on eight WR’s to run their pace, expect one of Romello Brinson or Brashard Smith to carve out a role this season.

Leonard Taylor is too explosive to keep off-the-field and could find a situational pass rusher role at either strong-side DE or at 3-technique in certain packages.

James Williams has an opportunity to start if he assimilates quickly and Gurvan Hall does not lock down the job. Same thing for Kameron Kinchens.

Cody Brown could fill a role as a hammer RB in short-yardage.

Who wins backup QB job?
Expect TVD’s experience and calm demeanor to allow him to edge out Jake Garcia for the backup job. The added benefit that it reduces the chances of an immediate transfer for TVD if he loses the job against a player a year behind him probably plays a small part as well.

What is the season outlook for Miami?
I put the Over/Under for Miami at 9 wins. If Miami only wins 8 games, that signals a stalled season. With the number of returning players and impact transfers on this team, I believe the expectation should be 9 wins. Anything less and you have to start to question the process. 10 wins and you’re cooking with gas. 9 wins is about the expectation.

To me, this the best overall roster Miami has had in 15 years. There are some question marks- such as the LB position and DE depth- but the places where Miami has lacked impact talent and experience over the years is now in place. QB King is the best QB since maybe Toretta. There is legitimate depth and experience in multiple places to be an excellent team.

I saw a stat that teams that:
  • Won 8+ games in 2020
  • Have 3+ top-20 recruiting classes in 4 years
  • Return their QB and HC
  • Georgia, Washington, Miami, UNC, Oklahoma
It’s time to win, Canes fans. That time starts with the return of Fall camp. Enjoy.
Excellent statistical work as always. However, if we win 9 games that would be under achieving yet again. Of course, 9 wins would pacify Blake James but certainly not anyone else. We have a 24 year old QB, a ton of production returning and we play in the worst division in P5. Manny has no execuses left and must take the next step.
 

2022 Commits

WR
6'2"
185
Nashville, TN
CB
6'0"
160
Lexington, MS
QB
6'4"
205
Valdosta, GA
CB
6'1"
175
Fort Myers, FL
CB
6'2"
180
Alabaster, AL
S
6'1"
170
Orlando, FL
WR
6'1"
185
Mandeville, LA
MLB
6'1"
210
Manvel, TX
OT
6'7"
275
Sandersville, GA

Latest Predictions

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