On Sunday, the University of Miami Hurricanes will be a mere two weeks away from the Advocare Kickoff Classic against LSU in Arlington, Texas. The Canes are making some final adjustments before they take the field at AT&T Stadium to renew their acquaintance with the Bayou Tigers. However, before then, Miami will hold the second and final scrimmage of training camp that will decide the depth chart.
As you may have noticed, there wasn’t much footage from the first scrimmage last Saturday. But from what head coach Mark Richt passed along during the post-game presser, the first-team offense appeared to be getting the better of UM’s second-string defense. As you can imagine, the first-team defense more than held their own against a feisty second-team offense that reportedly kept up with what should be one of the top defenses in the nation. Not too shabby!
So, what are we looking forward to learning about after this next scrimmage? Glad you asked.
Who’s Moving Up the Chart?
There are many reasons a scrimmage is an important evaluative tool teams use. From preparing the whole team for the season to come to getting them familiar with Miami’s system and seeing the strengths and weakness of the team as a whole, the evaluation process serves the coaches very well.
One of the more entertaining reasons to hold a scrimmage for those outside of athletic facilities is to determine where players will fall on the depth chart to start the season . With an influx of freshmen to the team who missed the spring period and players returning from injury, this final scrimmage is the last shot for everyone on the roster to make their case to get more reps this season. This may not be weighted the same as your typical final exam, but it doesn’t hurt to leave the coaches with a good performance in recent memory.
Keep Right, Keep Tight
Michael Irvin II’s unfortunate injury means that everyone at the tight end position will need to step up for the foreseeable future. In principle, swapping Brian Polendey or either of Miami’s freshmen TE’s Brevin Jordan or Will Mallory should be a simple move, yet it’s not. As CMR outlined after the first scrimmage, Jordan is having to adjust to lining up in different spots depending on formation and play call and is really going through some growing pains as a blocker.
The second scrimmage will go a long way to helping determine the progress the freshmen have made. It’s also quite possible that the best blocker of the group will see more playing time at the beginning of the season. With UM wanting to employ more two TE sets, that want could be an aberration if they can’t trust someone to block at the point of attack.
With so much talent among the receiving corp, we can’t wait to see the platoon of pass-catchers this season. The good is hearing CMR go into detail about Ahmmon Richards making plays again, and Lawrence Cager catching a pair of TDs. What’s not going to make us swoon is hearing about drops from a unit that is expected to be one of the best in the conference if not in a larger scope. While no names were called out, it falls on the group to pick up the slack Saturday to remind us why Miami’s receiving corp is so vaunted entering the year.
Turn Off the Flash-light
When a player is described as a flasher, the description serves as both compliment and criticism. It means that you make plays here or there, but that you also have a tendency to disappear before making a sudden resurgence. CMR highlighted freshman DT Nesta Silvera as one of the players in the category, which is to be expected from a first-year player.
With the first game of 2018 pitting the Canes against LSU, Miami will need to come out of the starting blocks in full sprint as opposed to stagering out of their stance. For UM to continue being contenders for the ACC crown, they’ll need to develop a trait that is common to all of the elite programs across the country: Play with consistency. The even-keeled programs are the opponents that don’t require you to do too much research into tendencies and personnel. They have an identity and play the same way whether it’s the starting or the third-string backup.
Consistency is easy to preach about, yet much more difficult than it seems in reality. If these Canes hope to surpass the marks that they made a season ago, they’ll need to come out of the game with the same fire they would have if they were playing FSU 12 different times.
Playing down to the competition should never be an option.
Ready to Geaux
Do you smell that? No, it’s not Pillsbury turnovers. It’s the Turnover Chain. It’s Sebastian swagging out on the sideline. That offseason now feels like a quick trip up the road, instead of the cross country trek after bowl season wrapped up.
CMR is already showing off some of his gamesmanship, keeping the stats from the scrimmages to himself. Scrimmage stats only matter until the sun rises the following day, but it does bring up the thought: What surprises could the Canes be cooking up for game one?
Will DeeJay Dallas be taking snaps out of the wildcat again this season? Has Trayone Gray beaten out favorite Realus George to start at fullback? Which freshmen have earned a feature role to start the year?
Those questions will finally be answered. CMR has played his cards close to the chest so far in camp, but sooner or later he’s going to have to reveal his hand. After Saturday’s scrimmage, we’re another step closer to discovering what those solutions will be.
And even closer to taming those Tigers.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!