A week into camp a lot of important questions have been answered.
D’Eriq King, by all accounts is 100% healthy. Reports are even that he may display stronger passes post rehab.
Manny Diaz has reclaimed the defense and change the culture on that side of the ball. Where the players felt comfortable and jovial the last two years, Diaz and company have returned a business mentality to that side of the ball.
most importantly, the health of many players, including King, has returned to full strength. Linebackers like Bradley Jennings and Sam Brooks, who played injured all of 2020 are confirmed to be back to their pre injury levels. Nesta Silvera and Don Chaney have recovered from their shoulder injuries, though the latter I had been brought along slowly.
There is still much to be seen, however, that can only be seen and discovers from a scrimmage atmosphere. Differences across both sides of the ball, play under pressure and stand out play makers need real competition to be identified best Let’s look at Three Things We Need to See, and Three Things We Want to See from tonight’s scrimmage.
Three Things We Need to See
Improved Play From The Linebackers
Much has been discussed when it comes to the linebackers at Miami. It’s simple to see and understand that they struggled mightily to protect the second level in the running game and to make the simple plays required at the position overall. What does that look like?
Knowing what to look for from the offense.
Trusting what they see.
Attacking the offensive players.
Finishing our tackles.
Those seem simple and straight forward, but simply didn’t happen consistently for the group. Reports have surfaced that much of the group played injured last year, and confusion between the players and coaches caused enough confusion to act detrimentally to their performance. This group needs to reward the coaches for not using the transfer portal with strong play and results to back it up.
What’s Old Is New
Both the offense and defense need to show growth from the 2020 season. The lack of preseason prep due to Covid for the offense limited what the depth players were able to provide and the playbook that Coach Rhett Lashlee could utilize. A year later, with a full spring and summer to absorb the playbook, D’Eriq King, Cam Harris and the rest of the offense need to display full confidence in what Coach Lashlee wants to do schematically. The coach also needs to feel comfortable to introduce the right wrinkles on offense to take the next step on that side of the ball.
Conversely, Coach Diaz’ return on defense, coupled with the return of Coach Jess Simpson and addition of heralded defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson needs to result in a much more aggressive defense. The mentioned coaches have a strong history of delivering strong play on defense, through attacking and intense styles of play. After such a passive delivery in Blake Bakers final season, we need to see the players taking the game to the offense, fearlessly and effectively.
Strength in Numbers
The most important part of Coach Diaz’ tenure has been replenishing the depth charts across the board for the Hurricanes squad. We all are excited by the depth at quarterback, running back and receiver, but need to see it on display in a true environment to validate it. The offensive line is also one that has seen solid depth built, but must show that strength exists past the top six players. On defense, the competition at defensive end needs to produce starters and cornerback needs to produce big plays. Depth is a huge step to taking the next step for Miami, as it will result in harder scrimmages and brighter diamonds once all is said and done.
Three Things We Want To See
The Freshman Receivers
The offseason has seen the big dogs get much of the attention between Mike Harley, Charleston Rambo and Keyshawn Smith. The first week of camp, however, has shined light on Brashard Smith, Jacolby George and Romello Bronson. All have had flashes during camp, but we would all love to see them put it together in a scrimmage format with quarterback Jake Garcia. The hype around this offensive class has carried into the fall, and seeing it produce results on Greentree would give us tremendous hope for the future.
Cam Harris Pop Off
Knowing Coach Lashlee wants to feature a top back this season, the competition in the running back room has lifted to another level. Rising from that pressure is senior Cam Harris, who has taken hold the lead position heading into the first scrimmage. I want to see Harris continue showing his improved strength and confidence in the playbook before I join in on the hype around his play so far in camp.
Big Plays and Big Counter Plays
Ultimately, we want to see a drastic increase in big plays for both the offense and defense. The defense takes the primary in this conversation, as turnovers and havoc plays have seen to go down each of the last two seasons. With and offense like we are expecting from Lashlee and King, we want a defense that is quick to forget mistakes and even quicker to take back momentum and counterpunch through turnovers, sacs and tackles for loss. If we can see a path to returning to that on defense, we can begin to predict an even stronger showing from a Canes team with more hype around it than any other in more than a decade.
Here is to great plays, improvement, and NO INJURIES.