“I will cut off my arms and legs before anybody considers the offensive line here to be a weakness.”
And with that, Alejandro “Alex” Mirabal had Canes fans at “hello”.
Anyone that knows anything about anything, knows if you cannot win the trenches, you will not win football games.
Standing at 5-foot-5, the former Miami Columbus High School graduate and former offensive line mate of Hurricanes head football coach Mario Cristobal, Alex Mirabal did not boast a typical frame for an offensive lineman, not even back in the 1980’s. However it was his ability to be an astute and technically sound player that allowed him to succeed on the field and be named head coach at his high school alma mater by the age of 23.
For Mirabal, it is not about the size of the dog, it is about the size of the fight in the dog. His fierce coaching style challenges players to dig deep and push themselves to be the best version of themselves on the field, and it is evident in the production of his offensive lines in his previous coaching stops.
Before coming home to Miami, Mirabal coached the offensive line at Oregon under Cristobal for four seasons from 2018-2021. The production of his unit played a big role in the Ducks winning back to back Pac-12 titles in 2019 and 2020. It was also under his stewardship that Penei Sewell won the Outland Trophy as the nations best interior lineman and was named a unanimous All-American in 2019.
Sewell was not the only standout on a line that was integral in a Rose Bowl victory for the Ducks as that group was named one of four finalists for the Joe Moore Award - college football’s best offensive unit.
Mirabal bid farewell to four of his Ducks’ offensive linemen who went on to the NFL. Shane Lemieux was drafted by the Jets (No. 150 overall) and center Jake Hanson was selected by the Green Bay Packers (No. 208 overall).
That season the Oregon offense:
- lead the nation with 218 combined starts along the offensive line.
- rushed for 239 rush yards and three TDs against Utah’s No. 1 rush defense in the Pac-12 Championship game, highlighted by 154 yards in the second half and 117 in the fourth quarter.
- lead the Pac-12 in total rushing yards (1,368) in the second half.
- was one of eleven FBS teams with 30 passing TDs and 20 rushing TDs.
In assessing the Oregon O-line, the Joe Moore Committee said: “Each week this unit plays with excellent technique and finish. They strain to finish blocks and take their men further than they want to go. Their double teams are physical and they impose their will on the opponent. In their championship game, Oregon faced one of the best rush defense units in the nation in Utah and dominated them. In pass protection, they recognize stunts and work together to pass off games. Neither tackle has allowed a sack this season. Very well coached unit that loves to get after it and seems to have fun doing it.”
Most recently, Mirabal’s line paved the way for Oregon’s rushing attack to the tune of 203.2 yards per game in 2021 – ranked No. 24 in the nation – and had 200-plus rush yards on seven occasions, including two 300-yard games
This is something a Miami Hurricanes offense has been consistently lacking since the early 2000’s when Miami was a dominant rushing team.
Also known as a relentless recruiter, the Miami native was recognized as a top 25 recruiter in the country in the 2021 recruiting cycle. The Hurricanes have seen the fruits of his labor by landing five-star offensive tackle, Francis Mauigoa, the top rated tackle in the 2023 recruiting cycle.
Miami also has two other verbal commitments on the offensive line from three-star recruits Antonio Tripp and Frankie Tinilau.
Mirabal also has previous coaching stints at Florida International University from 2007-2012 and Marshall from 2013-2017.
With plenty of experience returning for Miami in 2022 led by Zion Nelson who has been projected as a first-round draft pick in 2023, Mirabal has his sights set on Miami being a force to be reckoned with on the offensive line and not a liability as it has been in recent years.
“Our guys have got to go out with a chip on their shoulder and work and earn the right to be a strength on this football team.”
Miami will find out quickly how they match up in their third matchup of the season when they travel to College Station to face the Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday, September 17 at 9pm on ESPN.
2022: Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach - Miami
2021: Associate Head Coach – Offense/Offensive Line - Oregon
2018-2020: Centers & Guards/Offensive Line - Oregon
2013-2017: Offensive Line - Marshall
2010-2012: Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line - FIU
2007-2009: Assistant Head Coach/Tight Ends - FIU