Grading Miami Hurricanes spring football 2016: the offense – Palm Beach Post (blog)

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Mark Richt’s first spring as Miami’s head coach and offensive play-caller is in the books. Let’s run through each position and mark ‘em up:

Tight ends Stan Dobard (left),David Njoku and Chris Herndon. (Matt Porter)

Tight ends Stan Dobard (left),David Njoku and Chris Herndon. (Matt Porter)


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Position-by-position previews


Quarterbacks: A-

Junior Brad Kaaya had an excellent spring, completing 64 percent of his passes (despite more than a dozen drops) and tossing 10 touchdowns and one interception. He’s a good one.  Consider that his No. 1 receiver, Stacy Coley, sat out more than half of Miami’s second scrimmage because of injury and missed the third entirely. Miami is still looking for a backup, with redshirt freshman Evan Shirreffs the apparent leader entering the summer. None of the four quarterbacks behind Kaaya looked wholly capable, though, to be fair, they lacked help; UM’s five scholarship receivers and top two tight ends this spring mostly worked with Kaaya and the second-string offensive line struggled.

Running backs: B+

To this eye, sophomore Mark Walton has a slight leg up on junior Joe Yearby after the spring. Both had their scrimmage moments, with Yearby using his vision to gain extra yards and Walton shining in the passing game. Redshirt junior Gus Edwards, coming off a broken foot, looked fast and powerful running on UM’s second-string defense. Despite his second-team status, he’s likely to get plenty of carries this fall. Junior Trayone Gray remains a reserve. Though there’s no one with blinding speed, this is a strong group. If everyone’s healthy, UM can afford to redshirt freshman Travis Homer.

Wide receivers: C

Probably the best news of the spring at this position – aside from the fact four bodies are on the way – is that junior Braxton Berrios looks legitimately healthy. He had enough separation speed on Saturday to run away from Corn Elder on a 43-yard reception, the longest play of the scrimmage. Miami needs him. Senior Stacy Coley looked every bit the part of a No. 1 wideout before his injury troubles resurfaced. He missed the spring game with a pulled hamstring. Six-foot-5 sophomore Lawrence Cager and redshirt freshman Darrell Langham were criticized by Richt for not playing like big men. They also struggled with drops. Redshirt senior Malcolm Lewis, never the same since his 2012 ankle injury, is a depth receiver. And that’s it for scholarship guys. Freshmen Sam Bruce, Ahmmon Richards and Dionte Mullins and junior college transfer Dayall Harris will get every chance to show they can contribute.

Tight ends: B+

Aside from a few drops, redshirt sophomore David Njoku continues to look like a rising star. Parked in the slot as junior Chris Herndon played in-line, at H-back and occasionally fullback, Njoku was a physical target and a threat to pick up major yards after the catch. Herndon had a breakout spring game with six catches for 76 yards and two tackle-busting touchdowns. Senior Stan Dobard, who suffered what appeared to be a lower left leg injury in the game, was praised for his blocking and leadership. They need to continue to develop, but UM has everything it needs (especially with freshmen Jovani Haskins and Michael Irvin II on the way).

Offensive line: C-

The first unit was decent in the spring game, after struggling for much of the spring against UM’s talented defensive line. The second unit has a ways to go. “Tough sledding,” was Richt’s review. The first unit of junior left tackle Trevor Darling, junior left guard Kc McDermott, senior center Alex Gall, redshirt senior right guard Danny Isidora and redshirt freshman right tackle Tyree St. Louis stuck together until last week, when Gall’s knee injury created a promotion for redshirt freshman Tyler Gauthier. The fall UM will welcome the return of reliable center Nick Linder, a junior, and redshirt junior right tackle Sunny Odogwu (though St. Louis could push for playing time). The strength of UM’s line could be the interior, with a fitter, stronger McDermott, healthy Linder and veteran Isidora. Richt often put two tight ends on the field in scrimmages to help block the edges. More tackles and talent needed here.