Before I shift my focus to App State, I’m going to break down the depth chart Miami released after the 44-13 loss to Alabama, discuss the changes that were made (also the changes that were not made), as well as attempt to send my friendly advice to the coaching staff one last time.
My original prediction for the Alabama game was 49-21 Tide, so I wasn’t too far off from the real final score of 44-13. This is my quick and simple message to the coaching staff; First off, play the best players. The article I wrote back in March focusing on ‘seniority’ within Manny Diaz’ program still seems to be somewhat of an issue. This is something this staff struggles with immensely, and it is literally one of the easiest things you can do to help yourself win games. It doesn’t take Vince Lombardi type coaching experience to do this. The common Miami fan sitting their ass on the couch can figure out who the best players are.
Secondly, if you want to play in big time games, please act like it when the lights come on. I don’t need to hear how excited and ready we are to battle Bama all spring and summer only for the staff to play conservative football from the first drive of the game. Be aggressive from the jump, what did we have to lose against Alabama? Both of those statements sound like broken records, but this is still something the staff fails to do.
I saw Rhett Lashlee’s comments after the game, claiming he “wasn’t conservative”, well, Rhett, the problem is you were. In no way, shape, or form, could you tell me the opposite. Miami fans have eyes and ears; we can see the game. Running Cam Harris up the gut on 3rd and 7 on the first drive of the game certainly didn’t send a message that we were there to compete. This offense is littered with talent with a dynamic veteran quarterback that is perfectly capable of scoring more than 13 points against Alabama, I don’t care how good of a dynasty they are. Be aggressive, use your weapons, and trust your quarterback. I can’t believe I have to say that but here we are. Play your best players and quit coaching not to lose, and start coaching to blow teams out. I like the roster of this team way too much to have it wasted by lackluster playcalling. Simple advice.
Let’s break down the depth chart the team released AFTER the game. There were very few changes made, but some changes nonetheless. Is seniority still an issue at some positions? I’ll answer that quickly; yes. If Manny Diaz would just do the simplest of all things that a coach should do, which is play your best players and give yourself the best chance to win, it would make his life and job a lot easier.
9/06/2021 Depth Chart, post Bama
QB: D’Eriq King
No need for evaluation.
RB: Cam Harris starter, Don Chaney backup.
Here is the first blunder. Don Chaney is a better back than Cam Harris. Plain and simple, cut and dry, he is better. I think every Miami fan that’s alive is tired of seeing Cam Harris play well against mid-tier ACC opponents and then completely disappear against any team with a pulse on defense. The dancing in the backfield has got to end, and so does his starting job. Thanks for your hard work throughout the years Cam, but Don Chaney is the best back on the roster. He’s faster, he runs harder, he has better vision, and he never takes a play off. My favorite play from Chaney in the game was taking on Alabama middle linebacker Henry T’oto’o head to head on the sideline and putting him in the injury tent. Not that I was happy to see Henry get injured, but I was happy as hell to see how Chaney just didn’t give two shits about his bad shoulder (which a lot of people forget about) and said, “I’m going to knock this guy on his ass”. You can’t keep alpha-dogs off the field. Hopefully the staff recognizes it as well.
WR: Key’Shawn Smith, Mike Harley, Charleston Rambo
Not much to break down here as these 3 guys are the best options right now. This might be the one position where they finally put the favoritism aside and actually evaluated who were the best options. Wiggins and Pope were nowhere to be seen which was magical. The only thing I would like to see is the freshman get some burn here and there. With Jaylan Knighton suspended for 4 games, Brashard Smith should be getting some looks at WR and in the backfield. Simply too fast to have on the bench. Restrepo had a nice touchdown grab in tight coverage which is something I feel like I haven’t seen in a long time at Miami. Excited for this group moving forward.
TE: Will Mallory, Elijah Arroyo
No brainer here, these are the best two on the roster. Now, all we have to do is get them involved in the gameplan (hello). I think we threw to our Tight Ends twice against Alabama and I’m not sure Arroyo saw the field at all. Figure it out, this is “TEU” I thought.
OL: Zion Nelson, Jalen Rivers, Corey Gaynor, Navaughn Donaldson, and Justice Oluwaseun as starters.
The only change post-Bama is Oluwaseun replacing DJ Scaife at right tackle. Which is 100% the right move. I can’t sugar coat it, DJ Scaife has no business taking another snap for Miami, unless the staff wants to end D’Eriq King’s career early. Oluwaseun, who is a transfer from UNLV, held up well when he was put into the game against Bama. Was definitely a pleasant surprise and it is the right move to start him going forward. I’m not sure how this wasn’t figured out in camp over an 8 month period, but that’s another story. Overall, I like this offensive line and I’m also excited about Jalen Rivers who I think has a bright future ahead.
DT: Jon Ford, Nesta Silvera, Jordan Miller, and Jared Harrison-Hunte all listed as “OR” aka co-starters.
Jared Harrison-Hunte is currently the best DT on the team and should start every game. I like this group moving forward. There were ups and certainly downs against the Tide as expected. Is it too much to ask that our 5 Star true freshman Leonard Taylor sees any snaps? This is why you bring in 5 Star talent, because they are ready to play right away. Hopefully we see get to see a little bit of what Leonard Taylor can do against App State.
DE: Zach McCloud and Jahfari Harvey as starters
I don’t have much to say about this group. We clearly don’t have a Greg Rousseau or Jalean Phillips on this roster and we knew that coming into the season. It will have to be a group effort moving forward. They were all quiet and had little impact in the Alabama game, which was expected against that offensive line. Chantz Williams had the lone sack on the day. We will see down the line who emerges from Johnson, McCloud, Harvey, and Williams, and who deserves to start. Until then, this is easily the weakest Miami has been at defensive end since before Mark Richt took the job at Miami.
LB: Keontra Smith and Corey Flagg as starters
Ahhh linebacker.....the position that has been a major problem for a few years now. To be honest, I was pleased with Keontra Smith and Corey Flagg as starters, they could’ve performed A LOT worse. Alabama did not run over Miami like North Carolina did last season, which coming into the game I thought was a possibility. There were certainly some mistakes, but I think these two are easily the best options at linebacker. For the love of the Miami football God’s, please stop giving Brad Jennings and Waynmon Steed any sort of playing time. I hate to be this brash towards some of our players, but these guys are not good and should never see the field at any point, LET ALONE the FIRST drive against Alabama. You might as well put a sign up that says “Hey, run the ball down our damn throats” after putting these two guys in. As a fanbase we have had enough of that. If you want to get serious about LB play, have Tirek Austin-Cave and Avery Huff has the second teamers. Those are two guys with hitting and running ability. Not to mention, they have alpha-dog mentalities. If you want to get REAL serious about LB play, move Chase Smith to linebacker. This kid is an absolute specimen and he’s just sitting behind Amari Carter and Gilbert Frierson at striker. That’s just my suggestion. I hate to dwell on Steed and Jennings, because Keontra and Flagg played decent, but it is significantly hurting the team by playing those two. Many other fans as well as I have said this 5,000 times, but the same old story keeps coming up. Also, we don’t HAVE to rotate Flagg and Keontra out of the game as much as we are. You’re telling me they needed a breather on Bama’s FIRST drive of the game, and they had to put 44 and 17 in? Come on man, give me a break (no pun intended). As far as Sam Brooks, I’m not sure the status on his health so I can’t include him at this point. We can’t afford to play around at such an important position. Anyway, find me a real linebacker coach next year.
Safety: Gurvan Hall and Bubba Bolden as starters
You could argue this is the deepest position on the team. If you ask a Miami fan who they think the best safety on the roster is, any player could be named. I guarantee nobody would be picking Gurvan Hall, though. Personally, when he returns from his 6 game suspension, I think Avantae Williams will be the best safety on the roster. Unfortunately, we will obviously have to wait and see for a few more weeks to find out. James Williams and Kam Kinchens played extremely well after being thrown into the fire against Alabama after Bubba Bolden was ejected. I believe these young guys are special players, not just talent wise, but MENTALLY, which has been a huge issue for many Miami players in years past, Gurvan Hall being one of them. Hall has fallen extremely short of expectations at Miami, which sucks, because he had a lot of hype coming in. Myself even being one of his biggest hype men, but the jig is up. While he lead the team in tackles on Saturday, it was all smoke and mirrors. I didn’t see any “Wow” plays from him, and I actually don’t think I ever have, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Watching FSU-ND and seeing Kyle Hamilton of Notre Dame run across the field and intercept the ball is a “wow” play I would want to see out of my safety. I don’t think Hall has an alpha-dog mentality and quite frankly is a big liability in coverage, so it’s time to move on. Past due, actually. Once Avantae Williams returns, and joins Kam Kinchens, James Williams, and Bubba Bolden, I believe those are easily the top 4 safety’s on this roster. The starting two should be Bubba Bolden and Avantae Williams, with James Williams and Kam Kinchens backing them up. James Williams was aggressive on the biggest stage and Kinchens forced a fumble that, sadly, #26 failed to recover. The staff is going to have to make the hard decision of benching the senior safety for the better talents. This is how college football works, this is a cutthroat business and not every player is going to be happy, which Manny Diaz spends too much time trying to do.
CB: Tyrique Stevenson, DJ Ivey, and Te’Cory Couch listed as co-starters.
Six words: The DJ Ivey experience is over. It’s been over for 2 years for me, but hopefully other people realize it. A complete liability in coverage, a bad tackler, slow, and gives poor effort more often than not. Again, apologize for being brash but I have to be to get my point across. I was very happy with what I saw out of Tyrique Stevenson and Te’Cory Couch. Those two are far and wide the best corners on the team and should be starting EVERY. SINGLE. GAME. Don’t hit us with an “OR” on the depth chart. Both guys are physical, athletic, and give great effort. Not to mention they had fantastic tackling against Alabama. If it was my call, Ivey wouldn’t see the field at any point. Start Tyrique and Couch and call it a day. Coach Travaris Robinson is more than capable of making this decision and I believe he will sooner rather than later.
Striker: Amari Carter, Gilbert Frierson
Not much to discuss with this position. Carter and Frieson are even. Position wasn’t much of a factor against Alabama.
What my personal depth chart would look like at full strength. All healthy, all back from suspension. Feel free to disagree, but this is what I believe gives Miami the best shot to win a lot of ball games.
QB: D’Eriq King
RB: 1) Don Chaney. 2) Jaylan Knighton. 3) Cam Harris. 4) Cody Brown
WR: 1) Mike Harley, Charleston Rambo, Keyshawn Smith. 2) Xavier Restrepo, Mike Redding, Brashard Smith
OL: Zion Nelson, Jalen Rivers, Corey Gaynor, Navaughn Donaldson, Justice Oluwaseun L to R
TE: Will Mallory, Elijah Arroyo
DT: 1) Nesta Silvera, Jared Harrison-Hunte. 2) Jon Ford, Leonard Taylor/Jordan Miller
DE: 1) Zach McCloud, Jahfari Harvey. 2) Deandre Johnson, Chantz Williams
LB: 1) Keontra Smith, Corey Flagg. 2) Tirek Austin-Cave, Avery Huff/Chase Smith
CB: 1) Tyrique Stevenson, Te’Cory Couch. 2) Al Blades, Isaiah Dunson
Safety: 1) Bubba Bolden, Avantae Williams. 2) James Williams, Kam Kinchens
Striker: 1) Amari Carter, Gilbert Frierson
Let me know what you think. But regardless of the depth chart I wanna see, I need to see a Miami win over AppState this Saturday night.