The Miami Hurricanes early season grades so far this season are a mixed bag, as their 2-2 record entering their bye week would support.
Miami will next face Virginia Tech at home October 5th. In the first of two segments, we take a look at each position group on offense and how they grade out thus far.
The most important position on the field was also the biggest storyline entering this season. Jarren Williams beat out incumbent N'Kosi Perry and transfer Tate Martell to lock down QB1 and for the most part has lived up to expectations.
Where Williams has struggled is with holding on to the football too long behind a porous offensive line. He also needs to improve in reading his progressions, especially in the red zone when the field is condensed and windows are tighter.
However the overall body of work for Williams in his redshirt freshman campaign is solid. He has earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors in back-to-back weeks, albeit those performances were against inferior competition.
On the year Williams has completed 85 of 117 attempts for an impressive 72.7 completion percentage. He has thrown seven touchdowns without an interception so far, his accuracy and decision making for the most part have been excellent.
The Hurricanes rank 4th in the nation entering this weekend with a +6 turnover margin, helped by the ball security of Williams and the offense which has only turned the ball over twice all year (5th in NCAA). He did lose a fumble on a crushing hit against CMU after Zion Nelson rolled out the red carpet for Sean Adesanya who blew up the young quarterback.
Expect continued improvement from Williams as the season progresses, Miami may have finally found their next great signal caller.
Take a look at the statistics and one might surmise the running backs are holding their own out there. Yes, they are having their moments and making some big plays. DeeJay Dallas and Cam Harris compliment each other well but this team has been unable to put teams away late.
Miami had a pathetic 51 yards on the ground in a lackluster 17-12 win against Central Michigan. The Hurricanes top two backs combined for 23 carries for just 54 yards, a miserable 2.3 yards per carry.
That production is puzzling, overall Dallas has built on an impressive sophomore season and has 51 carries for 343 yards (6.7 YPC) with five TD. Harris has not been able to make as much of an impact, with 125 yards on 35 carries (3.6 YPC). He did have a huge run called back against North Carolina
They need to rely more on the running game in late game situations instead of putting it all on the shoulders of Williams. Miami ranks 87th in college football with just 143.5 yards per game but have eight scores on the ground. Dan Enos needs to keep teams off balance with play action and an improved running game will make it more effective.
Also, the lack of playing time for Lorenzo Lingard is puzzling. His track speed is a weapon that would make a great change of pace to Dallas and Harris. Hopefully he can get more involved later in the season.
This could be one of the most disappointing groups on the entire team. If one simply box score scouts it does not look so bad.
Miami receivers have a respectable 92 receptions for 1106 yards and eight touchdowns this year, middle of the pack statistically.
Buffalo transfer KJ Osborn has lived up to expectations with 16 catches (tied for team high) for 181 yards and a team-leading three TD. Mike Harley (11 receptions, 164 yards, TD) has shown flashes but has been invisible for long stretches throughout the season.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the bunch is Jeff Thomas who has yet to find the end-zone and has had several drops along with a huge muffed punt against Florida which changed the entire game.
Thomas has only 15 receptions for 132 yards (8.8 YPR) with his longest catch being just 19 yards. His speed should take the top off of defenses but that has not been the case. Thomas transferred at the end of 2018 before returning to the program, however it seems like his focus may be elsewhere.
On the flip side of the skill positions is the tight end corps led by the dynamic Brevin Jordan. The 6-foot-3 sophomore out of Vegas has been a top target of Jarren Williams as he is tied with Osborn hauling in 16 receptions this season. Jordan has at least 70 yards in three out of four contests.
He also leads all ACC tight ends with 233 receiving yards
Will Mallory had his best performance of the season against Central Michigan with two catches for 59 yards, after only one reception for 11 yards and a TD in his first three games.
Michael Irvin, Jr. and Larry Hodges have yet to make an impact with only three catches for 11 yards combined.
The grade for this group is elevated by the early season performance of Jordan along with the potential of Mallory.
We did not save the best for last Canes fans.
This group has been a hot mess all season, ranking 129th in sacks allowed going into this weekend. Granted a few of those are on Williams for holding on to the ball too long, but the line has not helped him much at all.
Their performance against Florida (10 sacks, 16 TFL) was one of the worst you will see at this level and it really has not improved drastically.
Zion Nelson has struggled at left tackle (see CMU) but John Campbell on the right side was a train wreck and was benched after one game. Campbell has since returned but the shuffling of this unit continues on a weekly basis.
Between the sacks and the poor run blocking the offensive line has put the offense behind the chains over and over again. Field position has been a major issue for the Hurricanes all season which has contributed to their slow start.
This group needs to get it together in a hurry or Miami will keep losing to and be challenged by inferior opponents weekly.
Keep an eye out for the second part of this series as we grade the defense and special teams next.
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