The Miami Hurricanes played their spring game on Saturday, April 16th at the home stadium of MLS club Inter Miami. The ‘Canes had plenty of former players in attendance and interviewed by Sam Acho, while ACCN producers chose to show the interviews over the action on the field (blame Blake James, I’m not sure why, but why not?).
Even for a spring game, there were plenty of moments to blow out of proportion both good and bad. We’re all bored and miss football, especially with the excitement of a new coaching staff and the promise that ‘22 holds.
#1- NO ONE WAS INJURED! I was worried about Henry Parrish Jr. but he came back in after seemingly having his wind knocked out of him by DJ Scaife.
Josh Gattis at OC- Gattis surely can dial up some plays to get guys open, and to pick on the defense’s weaknesses. ILB’s slow to cover crossers? Throw it again! Interior DL looking tired? Pound the rock. He was taking what DC Kevin Steele gave him / had to work with and picking it apart.
Tyler Van Dyke- Van Dyke can drop a dime on command. Puts the ball in great spots where it’s his guy (who dropped it) or no one. Not a lot of easy picks on his throws.
Jake Garcia- The 2nd team OL was obviously behind the 2nd team DL, but, Garcia looked good and bulleted a few throws that were dropped and needed to be caught. He’s also mobile and can create chicken salad from broken protection.
Henry Parrish Jr.- Parrish is a nice addition to the RB room in ‘22. With Jaylan Knighton and Don Chaney Jr. missing time he’ll help alleviate that stress.
The tight ends- Elijah Arroyo and Kahlil Brantley are both threats in the passing game. Dominic Mammarelli was blocking well, too.
The Offensive Line- The OL look much improved, especially in the run game. Logan Sagapolu was a huge addition. Jakai Clark looked even better next to Sagapolu instead of Navaughn Donaldson.
Situational pass rush- Cyrus Moss can only play situationally for now, but he’s going to wear out offensive tackles. If stubborn OC’s don’t chip him, he’ll come away with big plays in ‘and long’ situations.
Jacob Lichtenstein- Lichtenstein was the perfect pick-up by Coach Cristobal for a DE/DT type player. Peak power, long arms, found the football.
Gil Frierson- Frierson looks like he’s back to his 2020 self, and maybe better. Solid tackling in space and closing speed on routes in the flats.
The defensive backs- The DB’s are improved all around: Te’Cory Couch, DJ Ivey, Avantae Williams and James Williams all looked really good. Isaiah Dunson looked very improved.
Areas of Improvement
The ACC Network- The ACCN’s entire methodology is garbage. Their ad sales team, the camera work, the production missing play after play.
Wide receivers- Josh Gattis the OC needs to re-evaluate Gattis the WR coach. The WR’s dropped too many damn passes, even Restrepo dropped one (he looked great otherwise).
Defensive tackle depth- However, that seems to be coming by portal players that weren’t allowed to participate. But man, there were times where the RB’s gashed the D-Line.
Inside linebacker- ILB room needs portal help ASAP. TE’s and RB’s were open on crossers and too many 3rd level tackles.
I’ve been spoiled with breaking down real games, but also using All-22 coaching tape. But, back to the TV cut as you’re not getting ahold of anyone’s spring game that easily.
To give a few looks at what to expect from DC Kevin Steele, Miami will obviously not be in a traditional 4-3, or have four defensive linemen with their hands down.
If you know anything about Steele from his time at Auburn, he’ll use his “buck” which is a coverage LB up at the LOS and a “DE” which is a guy that will be up (2-point) and down (3-point) and more of a traditional long armed end type.
Above- Miami is in more of a traditional 3-4 look, with three down linemen a stand up LB and a stand up “Edge.”
Above- RB follows the wrapping guard for a nice run. Guards using skip pull technique and a ton of 1-back power or guard wrap depending on who you are.
Above- The TE, 81 Brantley, sealing the edge. Zion Nelson is also out at the 2nd level on the LB Smith doing a great job in space. Doesn’t hold, just locks on and drives. If Jaylan Knighton is healthy he takes this one for a TD.
Above- As we talk about improved tackling, and it was improved, there are still some old habits. On another stretch play here, Smith dives from about 4-yards away.
Above- The edge is lost for a big run. As a CB, you’re the most outside force player. You can’t make the mistake of jumping inside. Hold your ground outside to force it back in to the safety.
Above- Increased power leads to increased confidence. The LB isn’t having it on this TE insert zone run. Love to see a head snap back when a LB fills a TE or FB.
Above- If you’re going to condense the formation in the red zone, your WR’s better block. Restrepo shows his willingness to block.
Above- Another Restrepo play, he makes a nice diving catch but he’s a yard short of the end zone. These are the little things that get fixed all summer long when the players are out running plays together after workouts. It’s a feel thing and a reason some basketball players make great football players, that feel for where they’re at or Orient in the OODA Loop.
Above- See how deep this QB is here? If he steps up 95 doesn’t even get close. When an OT is left alone against a pass rusher, he’s going to take him outside, wide, and deep up field. The QB has to take that idea and step up in the pocket. The rule for OL is never let someone go inside because the QB has a harder time escaping an ‘in the face’ pass rush.
Above- 9 is caught in the wash and Frierson the LB goes too deep up field. Mike McLaughlin does the right thing by forcing him up field so the RB can cut under it.
Above- The WR breaks off a 10y in route and Garcia has time to hitch to his 2nd route in the progression, but also puts an absolute Dan Marino type rocket on the WR.
Above- Gil Frierson has his confidence back. A guy that in ‘20 I thought had a high football IQ compared to most on the team and some how didn’t get much burn in ‘21.
Above- Nelson does a great job in pass pro while Brantley was a pleasant surprise. Brantley could use a little more burst which can come over the summer off-season program if he peaks for speed heading into camp. Just being a very willing and skilled blocker means he needs to be on on the field.
Above- Nelson with solid pass pro again. He’s left 1-on-1 with some athletic guys in Chantz Williams, Cyrus Moss and Thomas Davis and handled them well.
My “What to watch” for Miami in my spring preview of the ‘Canes ‘22 schedule included inside linebacker play and tackling. While whole unit tackling was improved, the ILB’s were still lacking in playmaking ability.
I have a feeling Mario Cristobal isn’t done adding pieces. Look for a wide receiver and an inside linebacker to be added to the roster for 2022. Possibly an offensive tackle as well.
My 2022 Prediction was 10-2 and ACC Coastal Champions. After having seen every opponent spring game except for UVA (next weekend), Miami looks like they’re in a shootout against UNC. I give Miami the nod because of Tyler Van Dyke at QB. Where Sam Howell was able to push UNC past Miami for three years in a row under Manny Diaz, Van Dyke will be the difference maker in ‘22.
I’m sticking with 10-2 and ACC Coastal Champs.