Anyone who saw the new look Canes offense in spring practice would've noticed one thing immediately: Al Golden, Jedd Fisch, and his staff have made a painstakingly obvious committment to cutting the number of interceptions thrown by Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris. Even while acknoweldging that any team's offense is going to be overly simple in the spring, Miami's newly found reliance on short hitch routes and especially check downs to the running backs was striking. Clearly, Miami threw too many interceptions last year, but with an offense that's still capable of scoring 30 points a game, we have to ask: how much is too much?
In Miami's six losses last year, the quarterbacks threw 18 interceptions. And while that number is slightly inflated by circumstance-- most notably the four INTs thrown by Sepncer Whipple and Morris after Harris' injury against Virginia-- it's still an astounding number. Some of those losses-- to, say, Notre Dame and FSU-- would likely not have been reversed even if Miami's QBs had not turned the ball over. Other games though-- most notably against Ohio State and Virginia-- hinged almost completely on Miami's inability to not throw the ball directly at the other team.
Mark Whipple's offense last season was statistically the best its been since at least 2003. And yet despite that, and despite the often beatiful halves, quarters, or drives orchestrated by Whipple, there was always a nagging sense that the relationship between philosophy and personnel was very much a square peg/round hole dynamic. No amount of squinting could turn Jacory Harris into Ben Roethlisberger. (And thank god, right ladies?!) The offense was balanced, and it got the ball in the hands of its playmakers (Hankerson, Miller), but still, something needed to change.
When Randy Shannon was fired, that choice was made. Aside from arguably the defensive backfield, no position will guide the story of Al Golden's first season at Miami more than the quarterbacks. The roller coaster that was Whipple's offense will be replaced by a calm, peaceful merry-go-round, likely one that gets VERY boring after a few minutes. But it's clear that "game manager" is Jacory Harris' destiny, despite those few times a game where he might trick you into thinking he's a playmaker. That said, Fisch's offense looked overly cautious this spring, dare I say, even Nix-ian, and while dreaming on a mistake-free Harris is quite blissful, the reality might be that taking the Jacory out of Jacory could grind the offense to a halt. Whether Miami's defense or Fisch's running design is good enough to win games alone also remains to be seen. The Canes offense will look different, but chances are, it won't look better.