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.
Some numbers from tonight’s scrimmage, per HC Manny Diaz:— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) April 10, 2021
Tyler Van Dyke: 13 of 17, 190 yards, 3 TDs.
Jake Garcia: 18 of 27, 164 yards, TD, INT.
Charleston Rambo: 7-107, TD.
Dee Wiggins: 5-63, 2 TDs.
Mike Harley: 3-34, TD.
Jaylan Knighton: 12-66
Cam Harris: 8-39, TD.
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.
"I feel like we have a bright future ahead and I'm really excited about it." -Tyler Van Dyke pic.twitter.com/ReaHMNmDwv— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) April 12, 2021
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.
Corey Gaynor, on Jake Garcia: "Jake is just a football player. He works extremely hard...I think he's very in-tune to what we want to get done here. He's a great football player."— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) April 8, 2021
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.
Mike Harley on Navaughn Donaldson: "All I remember is my freshman year, he went off...He's big...Navaughn can run. I've never seen him run before...Navauhgn is banging the d-ends. He looks really great."— Josh White (@_JoshRWhite) March 26, 2021
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.
Corey Gaynor on Jalen Rivers: "Jalen is a big guy. He's got very long arms and I think his best intangible is that he's smart. He's a great learner."— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) April 8, 2021
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.
Canes RB Jaylan Knighton is now checking in.— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) April 8, 2021
On the RB competition: "From day one, everybody's been going hard...we're all competing. Everybody's making plays...We're going hard, everybody's keeping each other up."
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.
Mike Harley doing what he does best pic.twitter.com/jGwK4YFEsE— Canes Access (@CanesAccess) March 28, 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.
Manny Diaz: "[Charleston] Rambo has given us a big shot in the arm."— Josh White (@_JoshRWhite) April 6, 2021
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.
Manny Diaz on the WR’s “The entire group has made progress. Mike Harley is still the leader of the group. Keyshawn Smith, we still feel he has a bright future.” Mentions Charleston Rambo, Dee Wiggins, Xavier Restrepo and others.— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) April 6, 2021
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.