Even before the quarterback position, the Miami Hurricanes offensive line is in a dire need for improvement. Stacy Searels did an unimpressive job of developing the linemen that were on campus and thankfully has been replaced by new offensive coordinator Dan Enos. The ‘Canes new offensive line coach is Butch Barry. Barry has spent the last four seasons as the assistant offensive line coach for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Before Tampa, Barry spent five years with Coach Enos at Central Michigan coaching the tight ends and offensive line. The tight end position happened to be one of CMU’s strongest position groups during the Enos era.
One of the larger issues for the Miami offensive line under Mark Richt was Searels reliance on Al Golden’s former recruits. Now with Tyler Gauthier, Tyree St. Louis, and others moving on to the NFL or a career in something other than sports- it’s on Barry to develop the former three and four-star prospects signed the past three seasons.
At the center position, I was extremely high on Corey Gaynor on signing day. Gaynor had the requisite mean-streak associated with interior line play and looked like a guy that could get on the field by his sophomore season. Instead, Gaynor has played trivial roles as an extra fullback in short yardage and the occasional snap along the offensive line. Hopefully Miami can discover a backup to Gaynor this spring. Cleveland Reed would be a great option as a guard-center that could come in and play the position if needed.
At guard, Miami has a variety of options to play with. Reed is a possibility to start. Reed may have spent 2018 as a practice squad guy but he is a former four-star that’s six-foot-three, 325 pounds and should challenge for a starting role against the Gators. Navaughn Donaldson should have the right guard spot locked down. Donaldson struggled in space at tackle but looked much better at right guard when DJ Scaife emerged as the right tackle. Other guard options will be Zach Dykstra and possibly Scaife moving inside if tackles emerge.
The ability to play in space is at a premium in this era of football. Many offensive lines are going to man-on-man blocking with the rise of the Air Raid and the drive-catch method of offensive line play. Where Donaldson failed as a tackle, he was shining as a guard. Scaife came in and did an admirable job as a right tackle. Tackle was the previous staff’s top issue in recruiting and development. But it’s not like raw talent isn’t in Coral Gables.
Tommy Kennedy has transferred in from Butler and was being sought after by Oklahoma and Texas. Kennedy’s film doesn’t display dominant power in his punch or hips but he’s athletic and Coach Enos will need to work around his lack of power. Kennedy has come in as a graduate transfer with only 2019 left to play.
The other tackle position could belong to Scaife, or any number of three and four star prospects. Kai-Leon Herbert, Zalon’tae Hillery, and John Campbell signed with Miami under much fanfare and have been undeveloped thus far. Herbert was a four-star, Hillery a three-star, and Campbell a four-star. Those aren’t two-stars or washed up transfers.
I’ve deciphered spring coach speak in the past, and don’t expect Manny Diaz and “The New Miami” to do any different than any other coach in the country. You’re going to get a lot of the same cliches you’ve heard all over the country this spring. With the work that needs to be done along the interior of the defensive line, and on the entire offensive line- I would like to see 1’s versus 1’s in the spring quite a bit. However, full-contact on the QB’s with a new offensive coaching staff going up against a tackle for loss and sack heavy defense could be dangerous.
Don’t forget, a new offensive scheme is being installed and no matter how simplistic or convoluted we felt Richt’s offense was- Enos’ is new and new verbiage will be used that can slow down improvement. Spring football is for going back to fundamentals, learning the base offense, and getting guys on the same page regarding the Standards of Performance (Bill Walsh’ism) of a new regime.
We’re all excited for the direction of the offense someone like Enos can take Miami to in 2019. With Peyton Matocha, Cade Weldon, N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams for sure able to play and Tate Martell is awaiting the determination from his transfer waiver- there’s a lot of supposed talent behind the center. The offensive line will be the key that opens up the quarterback race, the offense in general and could spark the running game that Miami needs to win the ACC Coastal in 2019.
Even with all of the potential behind Hillery, Herbert, and Campbell- I still see Miami leaving spring football with the following starters along the offensive line: