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Midlo Cane Fan

804 to 239 to 804
May 19, 2018


Midlo Cane Fan

804 to 239 to 804
May 19, 2018

▪ For the first time since Ken Dorsey brilliantly guided the Canes offense early this century, the Hurricanes finally have elite quarterback play. But dominant offensive line play? That remains elusive.

Now let’s be clear: UM’s 2020 offensive line hasn’t been an embarrassment and there has been clear improvement from 2019. During stretches, the group has been pretty good. Other times, fairly competent. But that’s a low bar for a program with the history and tradition of Miami.

“Our offensive line, we were disappointed with how they played, but they hung together,” Manny Diaz said of the unit’s play against Virginia Tech. Here’s the reality:

A) UM is allowing 3.1 sacks per game, which ranks 106th of 124 FBS programs. And it would be a lot worse if D’Eriq King hadn’t magically evaded at least two dozen other near-sacks. Only five teams have permitted more sacks than Miami (25), though many of those programs have played fewer games.

B) Despite having three highly-recruited running backs on the roster, Miami ranks a pedestrian 66th of 124 teams in yards per rush (4.1)

C) Pro Football Focus ranks Corey Gaynor’s 2020 performance 78th among 112 centers. D.J. Scaife is 134th and Jakai Clark 185th among 239 guards.

In Gaynor’s defense, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said Gaynor and Zion Nelson have been UM’s best run blockers.

Now here’s the good news: Zion Nelson has dramatically improved at left tackle, though he relinquished one of Virginia Tech’s six sacks on Saturday. Senior grad transfer Jarrid Williams has been competent at right tackle. Clark had been playing better recently before he was sidelined Saturday due to COVID-19 issues.

But what’s perplexing is this: Why have none of UM’s most-heavily recruited offensive linemen become dominant starters in recent years?

I’m hesitant to blame coaching because Garin Justice is well regarded and the Canes have cycled through three offensive line coaches in the past three years. Coaching plays a role, obviously, but there’s more to it than that.

Four-star Navaughn Donaldson, now available to play after knee surgery, was an adequate starter last season but hardly dominant and now a fringe draft prospect.

Four-star guard Cleveland Reed — who Mark Richt was convinced would become a very good player — can’t crack the lineup at one of the team’s weakest positions.

Four-star tackle Kai-Leon Herbert has made virtually no impact here and is sitting out the season.

Four-star John Campbell lost his starting job to the lightly-recruited Nelson and has been out for two weeks while the team deals with the COVID-19 issues.

Scaife — who was rated the 61st best prospect at any position by Rivals in the 2018 class - has stagnated in his junior year. He’s OK, but nothing more.

Diaz said last year that offensive line is the most difficult position to evaluate in high school recruiting and that’s why there are more busts at that position.

And UM, in recent years, hasn’t landed any offensive lineman similar in quality to Clemson five-star left tackle Jackson Carman, who was the 16th best player overall in his class (per Rivals) and was lured by the Tigers from an Ohio high school.

So now UM now must hope that five players — two on the current team and three 2021 nonbinding commitments — become what recruiting analysts expect them to become.

That quintet includes four-star freshman offensive tackle Issiah Walker (Rivals’ No. 31 tackle in the 2020 class), and four-star freshman Jalen Rivers (the 16th best tackle in the 2020 class), plus a trio of 2021 commitments: Miami Columbus center Ryan Rodriguez (rated by Rivals as the 18th best guard in the 2021 class), Stoneman Douglas tackle Michael McLaughlin (the 47th best tackle) and Miami Central four-star prospect Laurence Seymore (the fifth-best guard).

Walker, incidentally, is not playing because of a physical issue, according to Diaz. “Medically he’s not able to play [but] we think he has a really bright future,” Diaz said.

If Walker and Rivers pan out — and Nelson keeps improving — UM should be fine at tackle next year.

But Clark could push Gaynor at center — just as UM this year has allowed younger players to beat out seniors at defensive tackle (Ford) and linebacker (Zach McCloud). Guard must be addressed this offseason and UM must hope Donaldson returns for another year in 2021.

Perhaps freshman guard Chris Washington becomes a solid starter or Scaife takes a big jump next year (like Couch and Harrison-Hunte and several other Canes at different positions have) or Herbert finally figures things out if he returns next season.

“Washington has a lot of promise,” Lashlee said. “He’s a long, really athletic guy. Needs a year in the weight room to get ready to play. He’s just not ready.”
Because of losses because of COVID-19, UM’s top two reserve offensive linemen against Virginia Tech were Donaldson (still working his way back from the knee issue) and walk-on Gavin Adams.

But until UM gets dominant offensive line play, competing with Clemson is going to be difficult. And King’s wizardry as a runner has masked some of the line’s shortcomings this season.

▪ With Tim Burns recently de-committing, UM has only one 2021 cornerback commitment (receiver/cornerback Malik Curtis) and just five on scholarship — Al Blades Jr., Te’Cory Couch, DJ Ivey and freshmen Isaiah Dunson and Marcus Clark. The two freshmen have played sparingly on defense.

Why does UM have such trouble building up numbers at cornerback?

“We are not going to finish the class with one cornerback commit,” Diaz said. “There is room to add. You should normally have seven on the roster or eight in an odd year.

“You may have a guy leave like we had this year [when Christian Williams announced in September that he was leaving the program]. That put us in a little bit of a bind. That [lower numbers at cornerback is] something we hope we can remedy this offseason.”

▪ Speaking of cornerbacks, one surprise Saturday: Blades - who usually plays the most of the three veteran cornerbacks — played the least (44). Couch logged 69 defensive snaps, and Ivey played 59.

And on Monday, UM announced Couch had surpassed Blades on the depth chart at cornerback.

Defensive coordinator Blake Baker said UM always communicates these types of decisions to players.

“We told Al [that] Te’Cory would get the nod [against Virginia Tech] and that was all communicated before the game,” Baker said.

▪ Notable grades/snap count notes on offense: Among running backs, Cam’Ron Harris played 40 snaps, Jaylon Knighton 32 snaps and Don Chaney 14, though Chaney got some significant carries late in the game….

Pro Football Focus rated Williams, Dee Wiggins (12 targets, 8 catches, 106 yards), King, Mike Harley Jr. and Harris as UM’s five-best players on offense on Saturday… Scaife was rated the worst...
Freshman receiver Keyshawn Smith got four offensive snaps Saturday. But fellow freshmen receivers Xavier Restrepo and Michael Redding didn’t play on offense, and Restrepo again mishandled a punt…

The hope would be to get the ball more than a handful of times to your tight ends, which is the strength of the team. It was odd that Brevin Jordan was targeted only three times, with two completions for 22 yards. Will Mallory caught both his targets for 21 yards. Defense obviously dictates a lot of where the ball goes.

▪ Beyond the cornerback snaps, other notable snap counts/grades on defense:

Pro Football Focus rated Jaelan Phillips, Couch, Bradley Jennings, Corey Flagg and Gilbert Frierson as Miami’s best performers on defense. Bubba Bolden was rated the worst…

With linebacker Zach McCloud out, UM gave 73 snaps to Sam Brooks, 43 to Jennings, 13 to Flagg and two to Waymon Steed.

Even with Jahfari Harvey sidelined, UM gave just three snaps to backup defensive end Cameron Wiliams, who tweeted an emoji afterward similar to “hmmm.” Whether that tweet was related to playing time is unclear. Starting ends Phillips and Quincy Roche played nearly every defensive snap.

“I know Cam wants to get in there more and does a fine job when he gets in there,” defensive coordinator Blake Baker said.

With Jared Harrison Hunte out, UM gave much more playing time to Jon Ford (52). Among the other defensive tackles, Nesta Silvera played 51 snaps, Jordan Miller 26 and Elijah Roberts 5.


Oct 4, 2013
Goes to show that the flavor of the week in the G5 is not always a good pick. Culture fits matter just as much as XO acumen and recruiting prowess. I always thought this was an odd fit
What was the culture mismatch there? I would assume Liberty's coach would be their top pick if they do make a move?

Midlo Cane Fan

804 to 239 to 804
May 19, 2018

▪ ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has defensive end Greg Rousseau (who opted out of playing this season) as the only Miami Hurricane likely to be selected in the first round of April’s NFL Draft. And it seems a stretch to assume that any UM player will go in the second round, though tight end Brevin Jordan has a chance.

But Kiper has a handful of draft-eligible Canes ranked among the top 10 at their positions.

Rousseau is his No. 1 defensive end. Jordan is his No. 4 tight end, but he must prove to NFL teams that he can stay healthy after two injury-interrupted seasons at Miami. Senior Quincy Roche is Kiper’s No. 4 outside linebacker, though he plays defensive end for UM. Senior Jose Borregales is Kiper’s No. 2 kicker, behind UF’s Evan McPherson. And junior Bubba Bolden is his No. 6 safety.

But Bolden — whose play has run the gamut from excellent at times to inadequate at others — clearly could use another year in college.

“The biggest thing with Bubba is just consistency,” defensive coordinator Blake Baker said. “He’s such an instinctive player; he presses too much sometimes to make a play. It’s about relaxing, getting back into his groove and letting the plays come to him.”

Bolden particularly struggled in UM’s most recent game against Virginia Tech.

“Junior safety Bubba Bolden has had a nice season for Miami and he is definitely an NFL prospect, but he’s going to hope NFL scouts skip this VT tape,” said The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, a longtime NFL Draft analyst.

Bolden must do a better job taking proper angles. His tackling ranges from deficient to very good, depending on the play.

And in pass coverage, Bolden has allowed 18 of 29 passes thrown in his coverage area to be caught for 329 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, per Miami Herald metrics correspondent Daniel Gould. That computes to a bloated 121.2 passer rating in his coverage area.

▪ UM sophomore cornerback Te’Cory Couch — now a starter — remains something of a revelation, a player who thrives on the blitz and in coverage. Against Virginia Tech, only one of four passes in his coverage areas was caught, for 7 yards. He had an interception and a sack.

“The problem with Te’Cory Couch is we don’t have enough of him,” UM coach Manny Diaz told WQAM’s Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey Jr. “You would love to have him three places at once every play. Great in coverage. He really has a knack at blitzing. When he gets in there, he finds a way to get to the quarterback. It’s always been in critical situations.”

▪ If UM had been forced to play Saturday, at least 17 players would have been required to sit while in quarantine, according to a source. And Diaz also would have missed the game; he announced last week that he has contracted the virus.

Asked if the virus is coming from outside the football team and not from players spreading it to each other, athletic director Blake James said: “The first thing I would say, I don’t think it has come from football activity. I do think it has come from outside. I’m guessing there’s been some transmission from one [player] to another. We’re reflective of society; where the numbers are at on campus, I’m not completely surprised.”

What about COVID fatigue? “Eight months in, it’s hard for all of us,” James said. “Maybe they have gotten a little more lax than what they were back in March, April, May, June, July when we saw our numbers stay down low. We’re part of society, the community and we’re seeing a lot of community transmission right now.”

▪ Quick stuff: Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said guard Navaughn Donaldson is not only available for “the rest of the year” but also is “good enough to play center, right tackle.” It will be interesting to see if he can unseat Jakai Clark or disappointing DJ Scaife at guard...

Kudos to defensive tackle Jon Ford for responding well after losing his starting job to Jared Harrison-Hunte, who missed the Virginia Tech game. Ford’s work against the Hokies was his “best game of the season, maybe best ever,” Baker said. “A week before he had his job taken from him. You can mope or roll up your sleeves and go to work, and that’s what Jon did.”...

Diaz said freshman running back Jaylon Knighton “has done a really nice job” in pass protection. “Jaylon and Don Chaney, for being young guys, take a lot of pride in pass protection.”

▪ A couple of 2022 recruiting notes: UM is one of nine finalists for five-star Jacksonville based Jaheim Singletary, Rivals’ No. 1 cornerback and No. 5 overall prospect in the 2022 class.

“I was in eighth grade when I first visited Miami. It has everything on and off the field,” he told Rivals’ Chad Simmons. “You can turn it up off the field, it has great football, the coaches set you up for life after football, and it has all that you need. There are a lot of reasons why it is one of my top schools.”...

And Rivals’ Mike Farrell makes UM the favorite for four-star Miami Monsignor Pace standout Shemar Stewart, rated the No. 3 defensive end and No. 31 overall prospect in the 2022 class.