Thomas Brown said in an interview with HurricaneSport.com, “When we sit down and make goals and ask guys what they want to achieve, everyone says, ‘I want to be great. I want to achieve greatness.’ Well that doesn't come easy... what’s going to set you apart.”
That is the mentality that the 2018 Miami Hurricanes will take into every summer workout and every time they step out onto Greentree and Hard Rock Stadium for the rest of their Hurricane careers. They need to want to be great. They can be great. The abundance of talent on this roster tells me that this Miami team can be better than any Miami team in recent history.
However, there is one unit that I am truly worried about and that is the offensive line. I am not going to sit here and pretend that I am some pristine football scout with an eye of Bill Polian, but what I can see is that this unit has struggled as much as any unit on this football team. This Miami offense can only go as far as this offensive line goes. We saw them excel against a one-loss Virginia Tech when both Travis Homer and Malik Rosier averaged more than six yards per carry, including this beautiful 64-yard touchdown run by Travis Homer, with the help of Navaughn Donaldson, Tyler Gauthier, and Tyree St. Louis.
If we get THAT Miami Hurricane offensive line more often then we are in great shape. But then there were games like Pitt, in which Miami gave up four sacks and six tackles for loss to a team that was not bowl eligible. A game that Miami averaged a whopping two (!!) yards per rush. Then it happened again in their next game against Clemson — four sacks and six tackles for loss.
In wins, Miami ran the ball 318 times for 1800 yards — just under 5.7 yards per carry. In losses, Miami averaged just 3.9 yards per carry. It is clear what the difference maker is here. Yes, I know Malik was nowhere near perfect in those last three games, but running the ball 23 times for 45 yards against PITT is inexcusable and it sure was not Travis Homer or DeeJay Dallas holding back that running game. It starts in the trenches up front and our big uglies beating theirs.
Speaking of DeeJay Dallas, here is a picture of his development over the off-season and he looks absolutely HUGE:
Dallas is up to 220 pounds and is said to not have lost any of his speed. GIMME MORE DEEJAY IN 2018 PLEASE! This kid was the ambassador of his recruiting class and is now showing his true leadership in his work ethic. This kid is the epitome of what a Miami Hurricane should look like. I cannot wait to see him work alongside the rest of the running back group in 2018.
Anyways, Miami’s struggles upfront also hurt their efficiency in the red zone. It was extremely frustrating as a fan to watch this team march down the field and not be able to punch it in inside the five-yard line. Miami tried everything. Mark Richt even lined up freshman OL Corey Gaynor at fullback to get the red zone running game going. However, Miami was one of just four teams in the top 30 in Red Zone Offense to have more field goals (14) than passing (13) or rushing (12) touchdowns along with Ole Miss, Kansas, and Illinois. That is not the kind of company a team like Miami should be proud to be affiliated with. Especially not in categories as important as red zone scoring.
Last year, Miami was ranked 71st nationally with 160.8 rushing yards per game and T-75th nationally with 2.33 sacks allowed per game. To me it is inexcusable for teams like Duke, Charlotte, Louisiana Tech and Maryland to be averaging more yards per game on the ground than Miami. If we are going to expect greatness at Miami, like Thomas Brown told us to, then we need to demand more from this unit. With Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas, Lorenzo Lingard, Cam’Ron Davis, Trayone Gray, and Robert Burns in 2018, we need to see more than 71st nationally. That group is as elite as it gets.
In the Spring Game, the running game was over before it begun. I hope that is due to the fact that our defensive line is dominant, but it created a worry in me that has not and will not go away until we see better production. The numbers do not lie. If the Miami Hurricanes want to merge into a true national title contender, it starts with the five guys up front and them blocking everything and anything in their way. It starts with the offensive line.
Projected Starters: LT Tyree St. Louis, LG Jahir Jones, C Tyler Gauthier, RG Corey Gaynor (maybe?), RT Navaughn Donaldson
Which Unit is Key to Miami’s Success in 2018
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