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Spring Game Preview: Canes Offense

Spring game on Saturday, fans will be watching on TV, what will Rhett Lashlee’s offense look like?

247 Sports

Miami will wrap up their spring practice this Saturday, as they’ll play their spring game at Hard Rock Stadium.

One of the big questions surrounding this team heading into 2021, is how will the Rhett Lashlee offense look in his second year at Miami? Last season, the Canes offense vastly improved compared to 2019, averaging 34 points per game, as opposed to 25.7 PPG in 2019.

There will be no D’Eriq King, as he’s still recovering from an injury, but it’ll give the fans a chance to see younger QB’s like Tyler Van Dyke, Jake Garcia and Peyton Matocha play.

So far, Van Dyke has been the most impressive, and in the second scrimmage, he went 13-for-17 passing, for 190 yards and 3 touchdowns. He’s given the offense and the receivers confidence that he can push the ball downfield. Saturday will the fans first live glimpse of him at quarterback.

Garcia has been no slouch either, as he’s come in as an early enrollee true freshman, and shown that he can play at this level. The first scrimmage, Garcia completed 15-of-19 passes, for 188 yards and 1 touchdown. In the second, he went 18-for-27, for 164 yards and 1 touchdown, plus an interception. So his accuracy went down a little in the second scrimmage, but it’s still reassuring to see a true freshman grasp the offense this quickly.

The offensive line, how is that going to look on Saturday? Most of the starter spots, we pretty much know who we’re expecting to see. Zion Nelson at LT, Corey Gaynor at center, Navaughn Donaldson at RG, and most likely Jarrid Williams at RT.

The biggest question on the line, who will be at left guard? Right now, the battle is between Jakai Clark and Jalen Rivers, as both have been splitting reps with the first team offense. Clark has been a two-year starter, but some say he should be moved to center, which is his most comfortable position. Rivers has been called the most athletic of any of the Canes offensive lineman, and the fact he’s ready to contend for a starting spot in year two is very encouraging.

Running backs is also an interesting situation, a position group that is absolutely loaded with talent with three solid players in Cam’Ron Harris, Don Chaney Jr. and Jaylan Knighton. With Rhett Lashlee saying he wants there to be one main RB that carries the majority of the load, as opposed to last year, who’s that going to be?

Harris seems to be the most reasonable answer. The senior rushed for 643 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. In the second scrimmage, Harris had 39 rushing yards on 8 carries, including a touchdown where he hurdled Gurvan Hall.

But there’s also Chaney and Knighton, who definitely showed some flashes in their freshmen seasons. Some believe that Chaney is ready to become the feature running back now. Knighton was the leading rusher in the second scrimmage with 66 yards. So who will get the majority of the carries on Saturday? Will we see Knighton used more in the passing game? Lots of questions to be answered at running back.

Then of course, there’s the wide receivers. It’s painful to me to continue writing about this group, but it’s the offseason, and it’s also the unit on offense that is being watched the closest. Mike Harley is the top dog at WR, and rightfully so, he was by far the most productive receiver Miami had in 2020, and I believe he’ll continue to be that guy in 2021.

Charleston Rambo seems to be the clear-cut number two receiver at the moment, transferring from Oklahoma earlier this year. Rambo had 7 receptions in the second scrimmage, for 107 yards and 1 touchdown. “He looked looked explosive all night,” head coach Manny Diaz said about Rambo.

We’re still unclear which receiver has stepped up significantly enough during spring, to be the favorite as the number three option. It looked early on that Keyshawn Smith might be that guy, though we haven’t heard much about him recently.

Xavier Restrepo had a big first scrimmage with 9 receptions, for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns. Senior Dee Wiggins finished the second scrimmage catching 5 passes, for 63 yards and 2 touchdowns. Maybe on Saturday, and get an idea of who that third starting WR will be.