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5 cliches to be leery of this spring

Spring football has arrived in Coral Gables, FL. The Greentree Practice Superstars are ready to take the internet by storm.

Duke v Miami Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes started spring football practice on March 4th of 2023 on the Greentree Practice Fields in Coral Gables, FL. Miami has an almost entirely new coaching staff, and saw another mass exodus from the roster this off-season.

New coaches are overseeing the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, defensive line (sort of...), linebackers, and safeties. The offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator are new, and their schemes are different than their predecessors.

New blood has come on the roster in the way of transfers at offensive line, linebacker, and defensive back. The freshmen at QB, WR, OL, LB, and defensive end could see immediate playing time.

But, before you stir up a tall glass of orange and green Kool-Aid, be leery of these five cliches from spring practices past, present, and I’m sure- future.

1- Coach X compliments Player Y, and you double-take

DJ Ivey comes to mind as a guy that gained traction in the spring and fall of 2022 from Mario Cristobal and played exactly how they played the year prior. The “spring” hype of certain players always feels more like a way to keep guys from transferring out than it feels like an honest appraisal in this “Portal Era.”

Miami v Clemson Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

I’ll wait until I at least see the spring game footage to make any initial assessment, and as we all know, the real assessments happen against ACC and SEC teams. The players will go from “All-ACC” to “We need five more years to bring in talent,” after the first loss to MTSU.

2- “Guys are flying around”

The inevitable “guys are flying around” and “I’ve never seen the players this excited” quotes are bound to spew out of the mouths of the local beat writers. I feel like these cliches started with Randy Shannon and haven’t stopped for 15 years.

I would hope to hell players are “flying around,” they’ve been without football-football since Thanksgiving. It’s time to get out of the weight room and IPF and get on the field. But in the end, the same “This spring is so much more hype than under the last staff!” stuff doesn’t equate to much once the opening whistle blows in August. As they say in rasslin’, “...And then the bell rung.”

3- Anything that happens in an OL/DL 1-on-1

There are a ton of wasted periods and drills in the world of football. Offensive line versus defensive line 1-on-1’s might be near the top of the list. The defensive lineman just has to pass rush and think about nothing else but a seven step drop.

What offense, and don’t say the Air Raid, runs only a seven step drop? None. What to watch for re 1-on-1’s as a former O-Line coach? The initial first set, hands, head, balance, and reaction to a wide rush or inside move. Once hands are on all the next BS is moot.

1- There’s no scheme. It’s a Manny Diaz defense where the DL doesn’t have to worry about gap integrity or pass rush lanes. So now your DE is going inside, or DT outside, and the OL would pass him off anyway.

2- There’s no quarterback moving in the pocket. Why would a QB sit back 10 yards deep and not step up in the pocket or work outside? If the DE screams deep to the OT’s outside shoulder, the tackle is supposed to wall him off and ride him up field, assuming that the QB is stepping up. The 1-on-1 goes against his technique coactive.

3- There’s no run play threat. QB Draw? RPO? Stick-Draw? Nah- let’s just forget those exist.

4- There’s no screen threat. Scream upfield and inside and get a screen thrown over your head behind you for 60 yards. Screen? Who’s she?

5- There’s no help/chip from a RB, TE, or other OL. Most schemes offer help from someone. The C helps a guard, the G helps a tackle, TE’s and RB’s are involved in chips and pass pro working little on little. But not here.

4- The new O is explosive / new D is aggressive

I pray on Sebastian’s missing pipe that it’s true this time. No one wants to see a modern offense more than I do. Why do fans of Sacramento State, Washington, William & Mary, and even Tennessee get to have more fun than MIAMI FANS?!

But the new O is always “making plays” and “explosive;” while the new D is always “aggressive.” The defense should be ahead of the offense in spring. If the offense is really lighting up the defense- your team is in trouble. Defense is based more on the physical coactive, offense on technical and tactical.

But I would love to see some explosives and some pressures in the spring game. Save the vanilla BS for someone that actually believes every ACC and SEC team doesn’t have your film from Houston and Marshall broken down by 10 staffers before Week One.

5- Players have never looked bigger, faster, or stronger than now!

I hope that a bunch of 18-24 year old dudes sitting around the past three months with nothing to do but eat and train have gotten bigger compared to during their highly stressful season. You’re taking young men who have won the DNA Lottery and putting them into the Soviet Union training from Rocky IV.

HEY! They look great going over the friggin bags... What you want to see is players producing game speed, mixed with Football IQ, and peak power. Ie. that they’re playing fast, reacting quickly, and running through blocks and tackles. You won’t get a nice glimpse of that without an actual scrimmage to report back on. And especially so if it’s full contact, this ain’t ballet.

The Wrap

Aaaaaah spring practice. Bag drills, grab booty, and Kool-Aid. The time of inflation. Have fun with it but if your Saturdays live and die by what the Hurricanes do on the field relax right now and temper your expectations. New roster, new staff (again), new season.