This season has been quite the rollercoaster for the Hurricanes. After entering the preseason in the top ten, Miami finished the regular season with seven wins and five losses. Whether the preseason expectations were too lofty or coaching blunders are to blame, the consensus is Miami went backwards.
The most heavily scrutinized position was just that for the Miami Hurricanes this season. Whether it was the play of senior Malik Rosier or the immaturity of the younger quarterbacks, criticism came from every direction. This season three different quarterbacks all served suspensions for various reasons. Not to mention the criticism of the coach of the position Jon Richt, son of Mark Richt. The only assessment that can be made is that more evaluation is needed for this group. While N’Kosi Perry hasn’t necessarily dazzled as the starter, he did deserve the opportunity to play more during Miami’s four game losing streak. Many feel the season was lost once Richt decided to go back to Rosier as the starter rather than continue developing the younger quarterback through the adversity.
Analysts, alumni and fans have criticized both of the Richt’s over not implementing a more “quarterback friendly offense”. For Jon, the quarterbacks coach, it’s unfair to judge him immediately from the play of a redshirt freshman. In addition to Perry being young, the offense played many young players on the offense. This past saturday against Pittsburgh was a perfect illustration of the offense’s struggles. Although Perry played a pretty solid game, receivers dropping passes and not being in their assigned areas limited the offense to only 52 yards passing.
The Hurricanes were fortunate enough to have seen good play from four different runing backs this season. Whether it was Travis Homer or freshman Cam’Ron Davis, the flashes were there. Something that may have been missing, which was a problem as an entire unit, was consistency. Although Homer will likely eclipse 1,000 yards in the bowl game, he only has four rushing touchdowns this season. Rosier hasn’t scored a touchdown since mid October yet still is tied for the team lead in rushing touchdowns. DeeJay Dallas for a large part looked like the Hurricane’s best back until he fumbled three times within two weeks. However, Dallas has been one of Miami’s best weapons on offense and special teams with his long returns.
Miami saw the emergence of another young back after fellow freshman Lorenzo Lingard was lost for the season to injury. Cam’Ron Davis has seen an increase in playing time in recent weeks and has taken advantage. Whether Homer returns for his senior season or enters the draft, Miami there will be a healthy competition in the spring.
A hard position to evaluate this season was the play of the offensive line as a unit. Although the group looked awful at times, during those times, may have been some players best performance. DJ Scaife, a freshman right tackle, struggled in his first start on the road against Boston College. He had penalties at critical times and was beat on some plays by a future NFL draft pick in Zach Allen. Since that game he has arguably been Miami’s best offensive lineman, grading out higher than some of the seniors.
The move to start Scaife at tackle allowed sophomore Navaughn Donaldson to move inside to right guard. That transition has solidified the right side as Miami’s most dominant side. Penalties have hindered this group as well as constant rotations but overall this group lost individual battles too frequently. In the games against talented defensive fronts, the run game dissolved almost completely. Miami has to recruit better on the offensive line for depth and talent purposes.
What seemed like Miami’s strongest position on paper in the preseason, outside of Jeff Thomas, hasn’t stood out. The unfortunate news of a career ending injury to Ahmon Richards did not make matters better either. However Miami has enough highly rated players to at least circumvent around that as a group. Rather than that the group regressed from previous years, in large part to playing many young players. Lawrence Cager, who leads the team in touchdowns, has yet to play to his six foot five frame.
Miami’s best offensive weapon in Jeff Thomas reportedly came to an agreement that it would be in both parties interest if the relationship ended. Add this to the list of attrition the Hurricanes have suffered this season. In the game against Pittsburgh, Miami did not have any healthy scholarship tight ends available. Brevin Jordan has been the starter all season after Michael Irvin Jr. was injured in camp. In terms of blocking and catching passes he’s best option left after the departure of Thomas. Will Mallory, another freshman tight end, began to flash but was injured in the same game as Jordan.
A bad mixture of being extremely young, inconsistent and not creative enough from a coaching standpoint has frozen the offense. The positive going forward is that Miami will return a majority of it’s offense next season, so the players should be better developed. Richt as a playcaller has to evolve to the current time in college football, too many players are being neglected with the current scheme.
Miami’s offense has been the worst it has been in Richt’s time at Miami and patience is wearing thin with his production. If Miami can improve next season to a top 50 offense, the team has potential to challenge once again for a conference title.