In 2020, the Miami Hurricanes ranked 98th in bags allowed (30 bags allowed in 11 games, giving up an average of 2.73 bags per game). The team had a significant improvement on the mediocrity in the trenches in 2019 (averaging 3.5 yards per rush in 2019 and 4.2 meters per rush in 2020). But when you factor in the D’Eriq King climb – a QB who can use his legs to extend plays and pocket (averaging 4.1 yards per rush and ranked 16th on the top for his team in college football), there are several areas for refinement. And whether it’s about blocking short distances or beyond, these issues need to be addressed if the canes are to take on the ACC Coastal and hopefully more this year.
From a development perspective, the inclusion of Garin Justice as position coach and Rhett Lashlee’s up-tempo spread offensive was beneficial for the lineman. And with a lot of experience back and the offensive coaching staff going into season two, there is hope that the group will go in the right direction in 2021.
All five starters from the 2020 season are back for 2021, including Redshirt Senior and Houston Cougars Transfer Jarrid Williams and Corey Gaynor, who could have gone to the 2020 NFL Draft. Veteran Guardian Navaughn Donaldson, Jalen Rivers, UNLV Runnin ‘Rebels transfer Justice Oluwaseun, Florida Gators transfer Issiah Walker Jr., DJ Scaife, Chris Washington and several others are also vying for launch spots or can provide substantial depth.
According to analyst Phil Steele, Miami’s offensive line has matured. The group has a combined 190 starts. The Minnesota Golden Gophers have the second most starts on the offensive with 181 and the Boston College Eagles have the second most starts in the ACC with 125.
Career offensive starts in 2021:
Miami (FL) 190 (CFB record)
Arkansas Street 149
146 Michigan Street
Bowling green 14
Air Force 3
via Phil Steeles Magazine
– Brad Powers (@ BradPowers7) June 19, 2021
Also, at least seven canes have had at least 20 college starts during their career. Navaughn Donaldson (34 starts), DJ Scaife (31 starts), Jarrid Williams (29 starts), Corey Gaynor (25 starts), Zion Nelson (21 starts), Justice Oluwaseun (21 starts) and Guard Jakai Clark (21 starts) all bring a lot of experience. Zion Nelson also received off-season praise and was named one of the top OT prospects in the 2022 draft by some media outlets. True evidence of his hard work and development, he only allowed 12 prints and three sacks during the 2020 season.
Offensive line play is crucial for any team. The first five need to be reliable and on the same page, especially with a canes playbook that is full of options. Miami is entering the 2021 season deeper than ever on the O-Line. Since Nelson is her top-rated lineman (70.3 overall and 79.3 pass blocking according to PFF), he has suspended the LT position. Corey Gaynor (center) and Donaldson (RG) are also at the start. The positions that are really at play here are really LG and RT. Jakai Clark is still working his way back from his injury, so Jalen Rivers’ (6-foot-5 and 325 lbs) may have a new talent in their sophomore year when the Canes take on the Alabama Crimson Tide for the Season to start. On RT, watch out for the competition between Scaife, Jr. and Jarrid Williams. So far, Scaife Jr. has looked solid after the position switch. Oluwaseun can also play the left guard or the right tackle. Additionally, Miami can even get solid tackle minutes from John Campbell Jr. and several other young talents on the team.
Projection: Nelson, Rivers, Gaynor, Donaldson, Scaife Jr.
This year, unlikely many others lately, Miami will have the significant depth to offer something Manny Daiz preaches – competition. Canes fans can only hope that continuity, coaching, additional talent and plans lead to success.
What is your prediction for the Canes’ offensive line against Bama?