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Can Dan Enos Make The Adjustments To Move Miami’s Offense Forward In 2019?

Dan Enos will have to make some adjustments if Miami’s offense wants to progress in 2019

Central Michigan v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

I’m sitting at home, trying to focus on my homework and not worry about the Canes, but the only thought that keeps coming to my head is Miami’s offensive line, which has been on my mind a lot since UM’s last game against Central Michigan.

So I just started wondering, is it possible for this Dan Enos offense to overcome a bad line? Because in all honesty, this offensive line isn’t getting much better in 2019, so Miami is either going to have to adjust or simply keep doing they're doing, which obviously hasn’t been working.

Now obviously the offense has several problems, but none bigger than the offensive line, and it seems that every issue the Canes have on that side of the ball, almost everything would be solved with a better OL.

Miami’s OL has been under scrutiny all season long, and currently rank 125th in the country in sacks allowed. Against Central Michigan the poor play by the line was on full display, and it was quite shocking to see. Shocking because a Hurricanes offensive line couldn’t dominate CMU’s front four.

Quarterback Jarren Williams is getting killed back there, and yes Miami has talented receivers and tight ends, but it really doesn’t matter if the QB has no time to throw it.

DeeJay Dallas and Cam’Ron Harris have the opportunity to be one of the best running back tandems in the country, but that’ll never come to fruition if they can’t even get back to the line of scrimmage before being swallowed up.

But this is the reality right now on the line, which includes starting two true freshman in Zion Nelson and Jakai Clark. So what does Miami do? This is why UM paid Dan Enos, to put points on the board even if troubles arise. He’s going to have to adjust his offense if the Hurricanes have a shot at matching preseason expectations.

If I'm going to sit here and scrutinize Enos and his play-calling, I must at least admit the good he’s done as OC and QB coach, because he has. At the moment, it may be hard to see for Hurricanes fans, but Miami’s has improved drastically since last year. Williams is completing 73% of his passes, and has also thrown for 1,027 yards and seven touchdowns, while averaging 8.9 per attempt and 10.1 yards per completion.

The one thing that has to go up however, is scoring more points. If you take out the 63-0 win over Bethune Cookman, the Hurricanes are averaging just 20.6 points per game, which would place them 12th in the ACC. Something has to change in order for the Canes to get into the end zone, and it all starts with the play-calling of Dan Enos.

Well for one thing, know what has been working for you thus far four games into the season. Again I take you back to the Gators game, opening drive, which is by far the best drive of the year. Pre-snap motion into a five WR set, Jarren hits Brevin Jordan on the bubble screen for an 18-yard gain.

Then two plays later, again a screen but this time to K.J. Osborn for another 18-yard gain. When they got into UF territory, another screen to Jordan off a play action for 10 yards and a first down.

It’s clear that Williams is a better quarterback when he’s getting the ball out of his hands quicker. And guess what, with a poor offensive line, that’s really Jarren’s only option at this point. Against Central Michigan, Williams showcased those quick throws. One of the few shining offensive plays from the day was when Williams zipped it to Mike Harley on the slant for 22 yards.

Or later in that third quarter, just a simple screen to Jeff Thomas, Miami’s most explosive player, who turns on the jets for 19 yards, getting a great block on the edge by Jordan.

Thomas is someone who the Hurricanes have to get the ball more to. It’s been preached over and over since he was a freshman, and Enos was adamant on getting him 10 touches per game, but that hasn’t happened.

Now some of that has to do with Jarren not hitting Thomas when he’s open downfield, but Jeff has proven dangerous in the screen game as well as running basic slants. The fact that Thomas doesn’t yet have a touchdown in 2019 is insanity.

When it comes to the passing game, there's no getting around that Jarren will have little to no time to throw the ball. In the CMU game, Williams was 14-for-17 for 204 yards and a touchdown when he wasn’t pressured, but only 3-for-9 when he was.

Enos has to realize this, and yet it seems the screen pass usage at least has gone down significantly since the Florida game. This Miami offense is full of playmakers, Thomas, Harley, Dee Wiggins, Mark Pope, these guys just need to get into space and use their speed.

Like I said earlier, Enos is going to have to start adjusting if Miami is going to put points on the board, like on Saturday versus CMU. Coming into the game you knew the Chippewas had a strong run defense, and then throughout the game they continue to blow past your line tackling your running backs for no gain or for a loss. Miami ran the ball 34 times that game, but only netted 51 yards with only 1.5 yards per rush.

I’m all for establish a strong run game, in fact I think it’s a staple of any good offense, but sometimes it just isn’t your day and your opponent has your number when it comes to running the football. But then your passing attack is averaging 10.4 yards per completion, but Jarren only threw the ball 24 times. Or on the first scoring drive, they gave the ball to DeeJay four straight times near the goal line, gaining 5 yards, then one yard, one yard and one yard for the score. I know they got the touchdown, but throw the ball if you’re only getting one yard a run for three straight plays. Williams knows how to thread the needle, like he did here to K.J. Osborn for a touchdown vs UNC.

Adjusting also comes down to humility. Football coaches can be stubborn, they know what has worked for them in the past and they stick with it. When it comes to Enos and his pro-style offense or “spread coast” as he calls it, he likes to used a balanced attack, working out of the shotgun and under center. One of the things that works for Enos’ offense is the post snap RPO, which Williams has been very good at in 2019. Whether it’s Osborn, Thomas, or Brevin Jordan here, it’s Miami’s bread and butter for their passing game.

Enos is trying to other aspects of his offense as well that worked in the past. He’s also been used to having a mammoth offensive line, like he did with Alabama last year and before that with Arkansas, where the Razorbacks had both a 3,000-yard passer and 1,300-yard rusher in 2015 and 2016.

However, as we already know with the Canes offensive line, that just isn’t the case at Miami in 2019. For instance, Nelson at left tackle doesn’t even weigh 300 pounds, how is he supposed to carry an offense that’s under center half the game?

In the offseason, Enos told people that he would fit his offense around the players, not the players around the offense. So when it comes to the under center vs shotgun debate, it’s pretty clear that Williams fits the shotgun approach a whole lot more.

Now I'm not saying that Enos needs to switch to a more spread offense (though I’d love that) and leave the pro style/spread coast to the side, he’s had success with it in the past and it’ll take his guys to build his offense. But you still have to adjust to the players you have now. And through the first four games, it seems that Enos’ play-calling has been lacking the spread part in the spread coast.

So yes, good coaches adapt to their systems to their players. Andy Reid didn’t have Alex Smith or Patrick Mahomes run the west coast offense like he had coached quarterbacks in the past. Reid changed the Chiefs offense to fit their style of play and maximize their talents.

Ken Whisenhunt came to the Cardinals from the Steelers, where they were a very traditional running team in Pittsburgh. He tried to run the same offense in Arizona, but it didn’t work. With a quarterback like Kurt Warner, plus receivers like Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, Whisenhunt turned the Cardinals into a pass-happy offense, and made a Super Bowl appearance.

I want to make it clear that I’m a firm believer in what Enos and Manny Diaz are building at Miami, but maybe I'm writing this because the play-calling during the Central Michigan game left such a bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps it’s because the Hurricanes have gone so long without an elite offense, and the excitement for Enos was so incredible, that I'm still waiting for it to all mesh together. Again, I, along with the rest of Miami fans, are still working on our patience. But again, this is why Enos is paid as much money as he is, so Miami’s offense can be solved and get UM to where it needs to be.