New offensive line coach Stacy Searles inherited the Golden-era offensive line talent which was anything but and Kehoe’s coaching which is big on fundamentals, low on working with 5-star type athletes. Searles didn’t just have to overcome a lack of talent, but also a lack of discipline- Miami had the most penalties per game in 2015 and at least cut it down to 112th in 2016. A lot of that was false start penalties from the offensive line, KC McDermott being the worst of the bunch. Coach Searles has experience coaching offensive line at some major schools before coming to UM, such as: UGA, Texas, LSU and Virginia Tech which are all known for impressive run games with 1,000 yard rushers annually.
Searles, Brown and Mark Richt tried about as many combinations as you could to try to get things right in 2016. Miami’s O-Line was greatly hindered by the injury to Nick Linder which ended his 2016 season early. Linder was doing a great job at center. Once he went down, Miami played musical chairs until finding a suitable replacement. Other injuries forced weaker links to play major snaps as well as a bit of a shuffle of the starting five.
The best move of the bunch was shifting Gall to center. Gall was a rotation lineman over his time at Miami and never a full-time starter but he did a great job playing center for Miami over the last four games. Gall could hold his own in the run game and pass protection improved (often, the center’s job to call) as well. As the season went on the Hurricanes shifted to using some youth like Tyler Gauthier (Soph) at Left Guard, and McDermott moved to Left Tackle when Trevor Darling was injured late in the season. McDermott was prone to false start penalties and being over matched at LT.
A nice young addition to the Offensive Line was Tyree St. Louis. Only a sophomore, St. Louis played well at Right Tackle for Miami the final eight games of the season. He wasn’t always perfect, but he out performed expectations. He replaced junior Sunny Odogwu who was injured during week 4. Solid but never stellar was Danny Isidora. You would expect a guard with 39 consecutive starts to dominate but the run game was a constant struggle as was pass protection for Miami.
The Hurricanes’ offense improved under Coaches Mark Richt and Thomas Brown. The ‘Canes rushed for 4.5 yards / attempt which was nearly an entire yard improvement from 2015. Their yards / passing attempt improved nearly a half-yard, however the OL group did give up 12 more sacks on the season. However, some of those sacks were stubborn scheme in the face of knowing you’re playing with back-ups and playing guys out of position. Once Brown moved 6 and 7 man protection schemes the pass pro improved even if the run game didn’t take off all year.
The ‘Canes return the majority of their Offensive Line except Gall and Isidora. With young but highly rated lineman in the wings like Milo, Brown and Johnson on deck Miami needs to find a consistent group they can get to gel in 2017.
RG- St. Louis