After his performance against Notre Dame, there is no doubt Canes fans are now familiar with DeeJay Dallas. In what was his most productive game so far, the true freshman scored two touchdowns and rushed for 53 yards on 12 attempts. Since being moved from receiver to running back in early October, it has taken Dallas some weeks to adjust to his new role, but the position switch is starting to show results. After only his third game in which he was given any touches, DeeJay is showing promising signs of what’s to come throughout his Canes career.
I trust Coach Richt and his staff, but I never understood why they decided to place DeeJay at receiver when he enrolled this past Spring. He is 6 feet tall, hovers just over 200 pounds, and is a proven ball carrier as he ran frequently from his primary quarterback position in high school. He is built like and moves more like a natural running back than receiver. Apart from that, why place DeeJay in a crowded receiver group when running back depth was shaky to begin with? His playmaking potential is such that Dallas needs the best opportunities to touch the ball and that probably wasn’t going to come as a wide receiver. It was horrible losing Mark Walton for the season to injury, but if I’m being glass-half-full here, it forced Richt’s hand in moving DeeJay to his more natural running back position.
Do I think DeeJay Dallas will ever be the Hurricanes starting running back? No, I don’t, but Miami shouldn’t want him to be. Travis Homer is a heck of a ball player, and next year the roster will add Lorenzo Lingard and Camron Davis with Robert Burns returning from injury. The starting job should be well manned for years to come with those guys. What Miami needs Dallas to be is a mismatch threat all over the field. Keep running him out of the ‘Wildcane’ formations. Put him in the backfield as a pass catching threat. Motion him out to the slot. Use him as a passing threat. And of course, also feed him the football on handoffs from time to time. The point is, DeeJay Dallas can and must be so much more than simply RB1.
When Richt has called the play wrinkles with DeeJay in succession, it feels like the offense is in attack mode, a parallel to the way Manny Diaz calls Miami’s defense. As the offense opened up more against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, it’s contributed to Miami’s two best all-around wins this season. When the safety brake is taken off, Miami’s talent shines, and the same holds true for DeeJay. As he learns his position better, I expect his safety brake to be increasingly depressed. His first career touchdown, a leaping, acrobatic effort, was a thing of beauty. And that was only his beginning. I’m sure that if DeeJay continues to develop this season and throughout his Canes career, he could become one of the most dynamic athletes Miami has seen in years.