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Harley and Mallory Shine in First Scrimmage in Spread Offense

Uptempo Offense Stands Out in Miami’s First Fall Camp Scrimmage

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

A focal point of the offseason has been Miami’s shift to the spread offense as they bring in Transfer QB D’Eriq King and new OC Rhett Lashlee. And while the first scrimmage of Fall Camp was closed to the media and public on Sunday, a press release from Miami Hurricanes Athletics provided some insight as to what we could see from this offense.

In particular, the offense shined as King reportedly completed 15 of 26 passes for 178 yards and four TDs. Many anticipate Brevin Jordan, who is listed on the John Mackey Watchlist, will be one of the top TEs in the nation. However, Junior tight end, Will Mallory, proved to be King’s favorite target on Sunday after catching four passes for 71 yards and a 5-yard TD. Mallory is on the cusp of a breakout year and, when paired up with Jordan, the duo could be lethal in 2020. Mallory has been known to impress in practices in the past, so if he can replicate that in live action, it will be a huge addition to the program formerly known as TEU.

The uptempo spread offense made its presence known as Senior WR and leader, Mike Harley, caught two TD passes, including this pretty one embedded below. Freshman, Michael Redding III and Xavier Restrepo combined for 5 catches and 95 yards. Jeremiah Payton, Mark Pope each added three catches, and Dee Wiggins hauled in a 41-yard snag. Restrepo also added a 70-yard rushing TD.

Speaking of the running game, the incoming freshman shined as Don Chaney Jr. and Jaylan Knighton each rushed for a TD. Specifically, Chaney rushed 11 times for 57 yards and Knighton averaged a whopping 12.6 yards per rush as he had 126 yards on 10 carries. This bodes well for a team that struggled in run blocking in 2019 and averaged only 118.1 yards per game (120th out of 130 teams).

Manny Diaz was pleased with how the offense operated out of the spread offense in a scrimmage setting for the first time. However, the defense, and the defensive line in particular, also held their own despite the recent opt out by star DE, Gregory Rousseau. In the Miami press release, Diaz noted former five-star recruit, Jaelan Phillips, was “relentless off the edge.” Freshman, Chantz Williams, also made his presence known by tallying five tackles and two sacks in his first college scrimmage. The leading tackler was Gurvan Hall Jr., who had seven, while LBs Sam Brooks Jr. and Waynmon Steed joined Chantz Williams with five tackles. LB Corey Flagg Jr. also tallied a sack, which is a good sign for a LB group that is a big question mark at this point. Freshman CB, Marcus Clarke, had an interception.

Newcomer Graduate Transfer, Jose Borregales, also reportedly connected on all six extra-point attempts and nailed a 49-yard field goal. This is very positive news for a Canes kicking unit that did not even attempt a field goal longer than 40 yards after their second game of the season in 2019.

In a time where the prospect of a season has remained uncertain, this first Fall Camp Scrimmage is reassuring. In fact, even though the coverage was fairly limited, just seeing the one-minute clip above and hearing the highlights going into the 2020 season offers some promise. Even more, it’s promising to see positive strides in the right direction with an offensive unit that struggled in 2019 and is adjusting to a new setup. The main positive takeaways being Mallory flaunting his skills at TE2 in a spread offense that appears to have received a fair distribution of passes, the freshman RBs standing out, the LB and DE units’ strong play, and a consistent kicking game.

Will Mallory and Jordan be an imposing TE duo in 2020? Will the DE/EDGE position step it up in Rousseau’s absence and still be a potent unit? Will the highly touted freshman RBs complement the expected workhorse back, Cam’Ron Harris? After one scrimmage, the answer to all these questions appears to be yes, but it is still very early and the coming weeks should give us an idea of how this will translate to live play. Regardless, it is exciting that college football is upon us.

Go Canes.