Nole Opponent Watch: Checking In On Miami's Spring

Yesterday, I read an article from Stewart Mandel on "Miami's Mission."  Because we like to keep tabs on FSU's biggest opponents, I thought I would parse it for you.

[I'm] really worried about our depth on defense," Golden said. "We have three corners that went to the combine, [so] we have a void at corner we have to address. Our defensive line, most specifically our defensive tackle situation, is grave. We're going to need help from freshmen coming in, there and at linebacker."

The corner situation has been much discussed and has the potential to be a mess.  Linebacker too, though that largely depends on the status of currently-suspended Ramon Buchannan.  But I don't understand the defensive tackle worry. The 'Canes have (alphabetically)

76 Brown, Jeffrey Defensive Line 6-3/295 RS FR
99 Forston, Marcus Defensive Line 6-3/300 RS JR
98 Lewis, Jeremy Defensive Line 6-4/315 JR
96 Porter, Curtis Defensive Line 6-1/300 SO
54 Regis, Micanor Defensive Line 6-3/305 SR 
93 Robinson, Luther Defensive Line 6-3/295 SO

Six second-year or older defensive tackles, a few of which will play in the league.  They also have Jalen Grimble, a 4/5* kid from California coming in.  This is one of the few areas where I don't think Miami needs to worry, absent injury.  If Golden is worried here, and not just setting up preemptive excuses, then Miami may be in real trouble.

Golden perks up a little when talking about the offense. Throughout the spring, he's raved about Miami's talented trio of tailbacks, junior Mike James and sophomores Lamar Miller and Storm Johnson, who combined for 210 yards on 34 carries in last weekend's scrimmage and whom new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch employed frequently in the passing game. USC transfer Blake Ayles joins a group of promising tight ends. And Horn, Washington and Seantrel Henderson form the nucleus of what should be a solid offensive line.

Miami has a very good offensive line, and Shannon recruited very well there (thanks in large part to their OL coach who has since left for Alabama).  Anything to take the ball away from Jacory Harris is smart.

"One of the most improved positions on our team this spring has been at tight end," said Golden. "One of the most talented positions on our entire team is our running backs. And the offensive line is probably the one position at Miami that looks the way it should look in terms of symmetry [by class]."

Golden knows that he must win now because the team has 20 seniors, 17 of which are key contributors, 11 of which are starters.

The personnel is in place for Golden to run his preferred run-first style of offense, but his primary focus this spring has been quarterback. After emerging as Miami's brightest star early in 2009, Harris endured a stunning regression over the past two seasons, throwing 32 interceptions. After Harris suffered a concussion in the eighth game of last season, freshman Stephen Morris took over but didn't fare much better. Harris relieved Morris in the last two games only to throw a costly late-game pick against USF and three against the Irish. Harris is currently engaged in a three-way competition with Morris and senior Spencer Whipple, but most expect Harris will regain the starting job. The 34-year-old Fisch, an NFL assistant for nine of the past 10 seasons who was the Vikings' offensive coordinator in '09, is working closely with Harris on his mechanics. "Getting my feet lined up, pocket presence, instead of escaping when I really might not have to, step up and maneuver in a tight space," said Harris. "[Fisch is] one of the coolest guys I've met. We joke around, we laugh. He's just an energetic guy. Basically, he brings my confidence back."

At left, you can see the truth.  Harris built his Heisman campaign by torching the awful defenses of FSU and Georgia Tech in back-to-back games in 2009.  After which, coordinators began to figure him out, and he has played awfully ever since.  Harris is built for dink-and-dunk, and play-action.  He cannot drive the ball outside the numbers and doesn't read the middle of the field well.  

The Miami program as awhole seems to need a fresh dose of confidence, a mystifying reality considering the 'Canes rose to prominence in the '80s as the brashest team in the land. Like many former Miami standouts, Barrow likes to romanticize "the UM way:" NFL alumni returning to campus in the offseason to work out with the current players under the unrelenting Miami sun, passing on the tradition to the new arrivals. "I don't know when it started, but somehow, someway, over time, the thing that made us special was kind of lost," said Barrow. "I believe with my heart that with Golden, we can find that missing ingredient and get it going."

The missing ingredient isn't heart, passion, or talent.  It is money.  And that cannot be found in the heart.  Miami has the fifth-best resources in the state, clearly behind UCF and even USF.  They cannot afford the modernities of today's football, and suffer because of that, as evidenced by the 40,000 missing seats in its last home game.  I covered that all in Miami Lacks Resources at the time of hire.

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