Of all the players that are expected to take that next step in 2020 for the Miami Hurricanes, wide receiver Mark Pope is near the top of the list. The junior came to UM as one of the top WR’s in his recruiting class out of Miami Southridge, and Canes fans have been patiently waiting for Pope to become the next star at that position.
Many were thinking that Pope was going to breakout in 2019 as a sophomore, though injuries throughout the year halted that progression, as the Miami native caught just 18 passes, for 266 yards and two touchdowns.
In 2019, Pope was severely slowed down by former offensive coordinator Dan Enos, whether it was learning the massive playbook, or just not getting the right amount of touches. Though, that could be said for several players on the Miami offense last year.
Now I’ve been critical of Pope in the past, but it’s not because I don't think he can’t play, that couldn’t be further from the truth. When you watch him practice, or even in games, Pope’s athletic ability and natural feel he shows at wide receiver jumps out at you immediately.
Everyone knows I'm a big fan of fellow junior receiver Dee Wiggins, and after having watched plenty of film on him the last several months, I decided to study up a little more on Pope, who I think is ready to have a big season in 2020.
If he can be consistent, Mark Pope could become one of the biggest weapons for the Canes offense this season pic.twitter.com/JfFduYDZeA— Mamba Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) April 29, 2020
With the hiring of new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, as well as new WR coach Rob Likens, it’s pretty clear that Pope’s skill set fits Miami’s new system like a glove. If that wasn’t enough, new quarterback D’Eriq King certainly won’t hurt Pope’s game either.
In this offense, I believe Wiggins is going to become a true deep threat, while Pope is going to benefit mightily in the quick passing game and getting the ball in space, which is what Lashlee’s system is designed to do.
Does Mark Pope become the go to guy for the Canes in 2020? pic.twitter.com/Gm82h1BHHY— Mamba Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) April 29, 2020
Last year, while OC at SMU, Lashlee’s offense had three receivers who totaled more than 40 receptions, and three more wide outs who finished with at least 20 or more receptions. Remember, Pope had only 18 catches in 2019.
The point I’m trying to make is that Lashlee’s up-tempo attack means more plays, and running more plays gives those playmakers, like Pope, so many more opportunities to produce on offense. Whether Miami lines him up in the slot or on the outside, Pope will be targeted much more in 2020.
As to who are some of the guys that Rob Likens said flashed a bit during those first four spring practices Miami managed, Dee Wiggins, Mark Pope, Jeremiah Payton and Mike Harley all showed they were "types of guys you want to have in this offense."— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) April 9, 2020
So now, even more so than last season, 2020 is on Pope. The potential is there, the talent is clearly there, and now he’s in an offensive system that’s receiver friendly, Pope just needs to become the consistent weapon all Hurricanes fans know he can be.