Prior to the start of the 2018 season for the Miami Hurricanes, the offensive line was one of the question marks that shadowed over the team. As the season progressed, we realized that what we had thought before had come true, as we saw this unit have its ups and definitely its downs throughout the year.
Even before the Canes kicked off 2018, Stacy Searels and his OL group would be without players like KC McDermott and Trevor Darling, veterans who graduated the year prior. Returning was lineman like Tyler Gauthier, Tyree St. Louis, Navaughn Donaldson and incoming transfer Venzell Boulware.
Tyree St. Louis beats Brian Burns off the snap and gets out in a solid pass set, but Burns dips under his hands and bends to the QB. Would have liked to see a rip move to clear St. Louis' hands, but he wins free and gets an athletic strip sack regardless. pic.twitter.com/HvV0WBPvMK— Fed Scivittaro (@MeshPointScout) January 7, 2019
The arranging of what five guys to put out their on the offensive line was a constant struggle all season for Miami. Donaldson was forced to play tackle though his natural position was guard. St. Louis was playing out of position as well, and it showed on tape and on the field. All the while, Searels couldn’t quite figure out the left tackle situation, and had to play musical chairs at the position all year.
St Louis asked to grab a down block on the 3 tech. DT gets the initial leverage but it's an even BETTER block by Brevin Jordan on his own teammate that finishes the job.— rOmaN (the hybrid) (@romancane) December 29, 2018
What a mess. pic.twitter.com/leaa8ZUaTs
All in all, it was quite the learning season for this unit. They definitely had their shining moments, like helping produce 300 yards on the ground against Duke and two other games that Miami had over 250 yards rushing. New guys also emerged as potential starters on the line, like Corey Gaynor and Delone Scaife.
KAAYA FILM BREAKDOWN: Therr were plays in the Duke where I think you see how good and special Navaughn Donaldson can be at RG.— 5Rings_Canes (@5Rings_Canes) November 7, 2018
Watch ND55 turn 95 sideways. pic.twitter.com/sqJPHIkjL0
On the other hand, any bright spots of success portrayed by Miami’s offensive line was eventually overshadowed by their negative play, including giving up 27 sacks on the season. According to Football Outsiders, Miami’s line ranked 117th in power success rate, 77th in sack rate and 93rd in opportunity rate. From October to the end of the season, the Canes eclipsed 200 yards rushing just twice. And when Miami was stumbling through a four-game losing streak, the Hurricanes o-line wasn’t able to deliver.
EDGE #2 Zach Allen beats LT Tyree St. Louis so fast he meets an unblocked blitzer at the QB, popping the ball into the air. #4 Hamp Cheevers comes up with the INT. pic.twitter.com/oR0q5PV6wA— Fed Scivittaro (@MeshPointScout) October 27, 2018
With the struggles of the offensive line, new head coach Manny Diaz relieved Searels of his duties, and hired former Tampa Bay Bucs o-line coach Butch Barry to take over. With Donaldson and others returning, as well as grad-transfers arriving, fixing this line will be high on Diaz’s to-do list.