The score was inconsequential with the offense versus defense scoring math in the spring game, but the Miami Hurricanes came out unscathed from their 2023 spring scrimmage. Tyler Van Dyke looked good (but not great) in the ‘tackling’ portion of the scrimmage and there were other bright spots throughout the night.
There are still glaring weaknesses, and the strange “pre-game injury” scratches to the line-up that have become common in the Mario Cristobal Era. Javion Cohen, the left guard, “tweaked” his knee in pre-game. Plus the ‘Canes were without a number of other big time players, such as Anez Cooper, Leonard Taylor, and Jared Harrison-Hunte to name a few.
Tyler Van Dyke finished the first half 13-of-19 for 184 yards and a touchdown, and more importantly after ‘22, without an interception (saved by Xavier Restrepo). The running backs didn’t get going in the 1st half where the offense was held without a big run play.
The wide receivers still struggled with drops, including two tunnel screens and the inability to get separation. Some parts of the offensive line looked good at times, but Jalen Rivers was schooled at left tackle by true freshman Rueben Bain, and Van Dyke might’ve left on a stretcher had there been live contact in this one.
The tackling started off shaky, often the case in spring games because of the lack of live contact in practice. On the opening play, Restrepo broke three tackles on a reverse, but settled down highlighted by Francisco Mauigoa and Kam Kinchens once the defense settled in.
Now let’s look at a dozen plays from the spring game that we can analyze endlessly for the next few months until football is back in August.
Opening play of the scrimmage. Dawson dials up a reverse to Restrepo. DE is playing a 4i (inside OT) and the closest force player is at 8-10 yards off the ball at S over #-2 to that side. Kinchens overruns the pursuit, 15 and 13 with ugly finish attempts vs. a high effort guy pic.twitter.com/MACrZGILN7— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) April 16, 2023
Above- Opening play of a scrimmage and Dawson goes with the reverse. I like it. The Air Raid guys have no qualms about running trick plays once per quarter. We saw it with Rhett Lashlee prior to Josh Gattis as OC.
Steve Spurrier used to say installing trick plays was a great way to keep players engaged during long seasons, too.
Kinchens a little hot in the biscuit early on. He settles down after this and plays really good football. No.15 and No.13 look foolish vs. Restrepo as he runs through them. Dawson also dialed up the fake pull there to lure LB’s and S’s away from the reverse and kick chasers.
Van Dyke is crushed here if it's "live," but Restrepo runs a pretty sail route and makes a great catch on the sideline on a well covered ball. Van Dyke drops a dime in there where it's an "only us" situation vs. a potential INT if it's thrown anywhere near inside. BUT it's a sack pic.twitter.com/loM3BF1Cto— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) April 16, 2023
Above- if this is a live contact game Van Dyke leaves on a stretcher. Too many free runners at the quarterback throughout the first half. Great sail route by Restrepo and placed perfectly.
When it's executed well, like it is here, GT counter (or GY counter) is a beautiful thing. 77 with the kick, nice wrap to the LB, Parrish is patient and lets his guys work before he does. pic.twitter.com/9vv5c5pNiL— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) April 16, 2023
Above- When GT (or GY) Counter is ran well, it’s a thing of beauty. Any offensive line coach (did you know Mario Cristobal played and coached O-Line?!) enjoys watching a well ran kick and wrap. Henry Parrish Jr. sets it up with patience, and the kick and wrap are well executed.
If you're going to run the stupid red zone fade, this is the time/spot to do it. 10-20 vs 0-10 YL and on 1st down. In R4 terminology, the Q sees the CB "below the hard deck" which means inside of 7y (he's pressed). He's clearly in man cov. Young is larger and speed is negated pic.twitter.com/3GBNMfalRN— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) April 16, 2023
Above- My hatred of the red zone fade is well documented. It’s a low percentage throw to the 12th defender (sideline). Even tall guys with good verticals like Colbie Young can’t catch one over a little cornerback here. Dawson tries it again on 2nd and 8, and again to score a TD that makes me look stupid for complaining about it. If you’re gonna do it, make it further than 10y AND on 1st down and 10.
3rd and 3 run play... at Houston, Dawson would get conservative and force the run game and multiple TE's vs spreading out and making the defense cover 53 1/3. pic.twitter.com/xGwEyBB9xz— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) April 16, 2023
Above- Dawson having a little Houston conservative flashback. Multiple TE’s, 3rd and 3, nothing spread out or special here. Francisco Mauigoa crushes the back for a TFL.
Nutsack to nutsack rule it is the C's man, but comm the help, and keep your shoulders square and eyes on your direct gap. Shoulders and belly buttons facing the end line. Also why in the RZ the better RPO is a slant/pop pass vs a bubble. Keep LBs honest in blitz happy areas. pic.twitter.com/o4F3bujTVn— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) April 16, 2023
Above- The rule is “sack to sack” in the direction of the play on zone runs. The center no.55 turns his shoulders which allows F. Mauigoa to walk directly into the backfield untouched. Huge TFL for Mauigoa, not good Bob from 55.
Van Dyke is reading the flat def. He gets the #'s here and throws to Skinner. Remember Miami throwing a lot of bubbles to Njoku? Same rules apply. Athletic big guy in the flat vs. CB's = win. pic.twitter.com/WJliLj6YTd— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) April 16, 2023
Above- Van Dyke reads the flat defender. Offense has the numbers so he throws the quick flat route to Jaleel Skinner. Skinner does his job, catches the football and turns up field to run through guys. A big human who can catch and run is a weapon on the outside against cornerbacks that typically shy from contact.
Kinchens earlier over-run becomes a tracking the near hip teaching tape on the 2nd reverse attempt by the offense. Great execution from 5 here to track him, turn him in, and finish eyes to thigh. pic.twitter.com/GXPFnutfLj— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) April 16, 2023
Above- Kinchens over-run from earlier is more than made up for the rest of the day. The guy is FLUID, plays great football, and you can watch him set up the rest of the defense. Great communication guy, all around team leader. I expect even more big things in ‘23. I try not to pick favorite players, but he’s it. As a (retired) football coach you can’t help but love those type of players.
Can't high point a ball if you're floating backwards. 0 needs to attack forward and up not floating back like an MJ fade away jumper vs the Jazz pic.twitter.com/1oKvD3zQbe— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) April 16, 2023
Above- I initially thought Jalen Rivers was beat badly off the ball, but that’s not the case. Rivers does the job he’s supposed to do. If you get a wide, up-field rusher you turn, ride them up the field, and the QB is supposed to step up in the pocket to avoid pressure (cont. below)
Above- Van Dyke sits there for almost four seconds, even with a guy wide open and sets himself up for another big hit in a live game. Buddy has to feel pressure and step up 3y in the pocket to avoid getting his throwing shoulder ripped off his body again.
Trying to block a press corner with the #-3 WR is just stupid football. #-2 could get there, clearly, but 3?! Bad call. pic.twitter.com/L9KT5mNVtc— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) April 16, 2023
Above- I don’t like Miami’s design of this tunnel screen here. They’re trying to block a press corner with #3 instead of with #2. Restrepo (3rd receiver outside to inside) needs to come more flat, #2 (middle receiver) needs to get the hell out of the way. But this is a busted play design vs. press man.
Restrepo is just making routes up now. He gets himself open (Air Raid is great for a guy like him) and makes 31 look FOOLISH in space. Dude chases 7 then dives at him. 1st guy there is missing 7 every time pic.twitter.com/MRLR6VEDDN— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) April 16, 2023
Above- Restrepo with more broken tackles making defenders look foolish. Can’t track him on his route (he looks like he made up) and can’t wrap and bring him down on the 1st try. No.31 gets abused out there in space.
The C and RG are turn-styles here letting 99 walk in. Van Dyke leaves this game on a stretcher if it's live. Good catch from 4 though on the drop out route. pic.twitter.com/VebYukWxzS— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) April 16, 2023
Above- Van Dyke has to say a prayer every day that Javion Cohen and Anez Cooper stay healthy. If Miami winds up with another “injury bug” (not a real thing) hitting the entire roster Van Dyke will be running for his life, or Jacurri Brown will be in as the starter again.
And then you have the throw and catch that proves my "RZ fades are dumb" theory wrong. 2nd and 8, too. pic.twitter.com/x2fqqcAvgS— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) April 16, 2023
Above- No comment (you can comment below) on how stupid I sound complaining about the RZ Fade. Instead how about perfect ball placement and a beautiful display of hands (I would’ve wanted him to turn his chest back to the ball, but that’s another story).
Note: I’m not even going to waste time on the WHIZ (it was NOT a THUD period) second half of the scrimmage. It’s all fun and games when it’s two hand touch. The defenders aren’t sure what to even do, the offense definitely milks yardage for all it’s worth. Not worth my time.
Clearly there were some good, bad, and ugly things in the scrimmage. It’s spring and a lot of star players are still out with injuries or held from contact.
#Canes OL Javion Cohen still on the sidelines, was nicked up during pre-game warmups.— Geo Milian (@GeoMilian) April 14, 2023
I’m not sure how ANOTHER player was injured in the warm-up, or if that’s Cristobullchit for something else, but Cohen allegedly “tweaked his knee” during pre-game (above). Punters pulling groins, OL tweaking knees... maybe they need to find a new pre-game routine.
Miami is going to hit the portal hard post-spring and pre-summer. Clear needs: OL depth, faster WR, backup QB, large DT, one CB, one safety, and another true inside linebacker next to Mauigoa (can’t let one sprained ankle be the distance between Ryan Ragone and a starting spot).
Final vibe: This is a boom or bust offensive scheme, and I’m interested in seeing how Cristobal deals with an off day from the offense. When Van Dyke isn’t on, when the Air Raid isn’t clicking, how much more 12 personnel (one back, two tight ends) and running on 3rd and 8 are we fans going to see from Miami? Can Mario let go and let Dawson run his true offense?