UM Has Done Well Staying Afloat, Now the Hurricanes Must Surge Ahead
It’s three weeks until Miami’s Sept. 10 season opener against Alabama-Birmingham at Hard Rock Stadium and unfortunately we don’t know much more about the Canes today than we did right after their final game last season, a 14-0 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl.
That’s unfortunate because at a time when every team in the nation has a legitimate excuse for being stagnant the University of Miami needs to be sprinting ahead. So far it doesn’t appear that’s happened.
It’d be nice to see the Canes answer a major question or two (offensive tackles, linebacker) after they scrimmage Saturday. It’d be nice if Miami could get ahead of the game, so to speak, instead of staying even with everyone else.
Having said that it’s important to note coach Manny Diaz said last weekend’s scrimmage was the best offensive performance he’s seen in an initial fall scrimmage since 2016.
“And not just in terms of performance and number of touchdowns and yards and those types of things,” Diaz said, “but again, just even watching the film, I know I mentioned it on Sunday night, just the amount of mental errors, so low. We did not call a timeout. We didn't have a procedural penalties and delay of games until really the last drive when we were trying to just get everybody in type deal.”
The Hurricanes know they have a quality quarterback, D’Eriq King, the transfer from Houston. He was sharp in the scrimmage with four touchdown passes, according to Diaz.
And, yes, running back (Jaylan Knighton in particular) and wide receiver (freshmen Jeremiah Payton and Xavier Restrepo had good nights) showed promise during the scrimmage.
But questions abound.
The offensive and defensive lines are unsettled. On the offensive line Diaz said left tackle John Campbell and right tackle Jarrid Williams have been good but not good enough to definitively win starting jobs.
“I would say Williams and Campbell have good days at tackle,” Diaz said, “but we’re still not ready to say these are the five and there's no more entry to the starting lineup for any position. Really, most positions.”
On the defensive line end Quincy Roche and tackles Nesta Silvera, Jon Ford and Jalar Holley were held out of the scrimmage with injuries so it’s tough to determine much about the run defense.
There’s uncertainty at linebacker and in secondary. The good thing is there’s talent in both units.
Miami had a shortened spring practice and the fall has been unsettled, to say the least.
Diaz is saying the right things when it comes to not lowering his standards because of the circumstances.
“The ball has got to be about the ball,” he said. “The standard has to be the standard, and if defensively we're going to run to the ball and tackle -- you know, we've all been through a lot this year -- but we’ve got to run to the ball and tackle. Some things are non-negotiable.”
It’s understandable the Hurricanes haven’t been able to answer many of their offseason and preseason questions. In that respect, UM, which is coming off a 6-7 season and riding a three-game losing streak, is in the same boat as most other teams in the nation.
The key for the Canes, however, is getting ahead of most other teams in the nation.