The Miami Hurricanes have a new head coach in Mario Cristobal and a new outlook heading into the 2022 season. The ‘Canes should be a shoe-in for the ACC Coastal crown, and a trip to Charlotte, NC for the ACC Championship Game in December. One position group that cannot be overlooked is the Safety room in Coral Gables.
The Safety position is the best room in the program, and arguably the best Safety group in the nation. The main trio is led by five-star safety James Williams, and supported by four-star prospects in Avantae Williams and Kamren Kinchens. They’re a young group with James Williams and Kinchens being class of ‘21 guys and Williams being a class of ‘20 player.
There weren’t a lot of games where all three saw the field at safety, but two to evaluate were the Georgia Tech and Florida State games from last season. But James Williams and Kinchens also had lights out performances against the Pitt Panthers.
Against Ga Tech, J. Williams logged three stops with another tackle against FSU. Williams’ most prolific performance probably came against the Pitt Panthers, where he logged nine tackles and an interception.
Pros: Size, range, physical traits
Areas of improvement: Grow past freshman mistakes, tackling
Above- If you think J. Williams doesn’t have range, well, your Football IQ is quite low. James Williams can cover some ground. The bigger issue for him is his grappling work. He is lanky and likes to tackle high, which causes missed tackles and horse collar type grabs at times. Kevin Steele will work this out of him with real grappling work and pursuit work.
Control your tempos
Above- Where his range needs to be dialed in at times can be evident. J. Williams over runs Georgia Tech QB Jeff Sims getting even with Sims. A tackler wants to pursue the ‘near hip’ in his tracking. As an athlete you cannot run 100% consistently.
1- You’ll gas out quickly.
2- As seen ABOVE (and that’s A. Williams and Kinchens, not J. Williams) You’ll overrun the play, because you can’t change directions at top-end speed.
Tacklers need to match distance and tempo to the ball carrier (BC). A ‘scallup” as Bill Belichick’s coaches call it, isn’t a run and it’s not a scrape. From further distances at greater speeds, the scallup is a great tool to use.
Once the tackler is closer to the BC, a scrape works. That’s the choppier, more controlled lateral-downhill movement you typically see from linebackers.
When the BC and tackler get into close quarter battle, then buzz the feet and set up the grapple. The tackler, tracking near hip, wants to put the head behind the play with eyes to the thigh of the BC. Violent arm strike, followed by hips, and “drive for 5” as the tackler runs their feet and ‘chases cleats.’
Of course, no one is coaching “The Manny” but how The Manny always seemed to happen is interesting. “Cuncle” Luke must be proud because Miami tacklers are often face down, butt up.
After serving time for a suspension, A. Williams logged four stops and a beautiful interception against the Yellow Jackets, and seven tackles against FSU.
Pros: Confidence, elite ball skills, moves like a pro
Areas of improvement: Finishing the tackle
Above- The start of the Avantae Williams “he made that play?!” tour was against the Yellow Jackets. A. Williams makes a play on this football from over five yards of cushion. Sims is baited completely into this throw and A. Williams closes instantly to make a jumping interception.
Above- Why do you want to rugby tackle (aka Hawk tackle)? First, the technique is superior to the old ‘head across’ style. A. Williams would’ve been aiming for the BC’s hip, not his chest. If A. Williams shoots his arms through the BC’s hips and rolls his legs, this play is over. Instead, the BC runs through no. 15 who holds on to make the stop.
Kinchens played in all three mentioned games. Against GT, Kinchens made seven tackles and recorded two PBU’s. Against the ‘Noles, Kinchens logged three tackles, while logging four stops and a PBU against Pitt.
Pros: Technically and tactically sound
Areas of improvement: Regressed in his finish towards the end of season
Track near hip
Above- Against GT, Kinchens looked phenomenal in the pursuit and tackle game. I was really impressed with his ability to track the near hip, balance between sprint, scallup, scrape, buzz and grapple.
Above- Of course, seeing Kinchens and J. Williams in a vice tackle just makes you happy.
The safety position could argue that it has the most potential for stardom on Greentree. A five-star can’t miss prospect with two four-star studs that had major playing time as freshman in 2021. All three are back on campus for the new coaching staff in ‘22.
Is there a lot to clean up? Of course. This trio was young, and being coached by guys who towards the end of the season had to have seen the writing on the wall. Also, The Coach Diaz defensive system wasn’t exactly sound or well taught. DB’s seemed lost in coverage for years under Diaz.
Under Steele, expect a real system to be installed. From the install to the drills and X’s and O’s things will look very different in Coral Gables in ‘22. I think this trio could be major difference makers this fall.