Oct 17, 2013; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman Justin Renfrow (78) and offensive linesman Jon Feliciano (70) celebrate after the game. The Miami Hurricanes defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels 27-23 at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Hurricanes Football Preview: Offensive Line

In 2013-2014, the Miami Hurricanes were expected to have one of the best offenses in the nation, and although there was a lot left to be desired due to some shaky quarterback play, and the injury to Duke Johnson, the offensive line performed well. The Canes o-line were tied for 23rd amongst FBS schools in sacks allowed with 17. That’s an average of 1.31 sacks per game, which is outstanding.

Coach Al Golden has repeatedly said that he would want to add a couple more linemen for extra depth, as depth seems to be the biggest concern with this group. Most of the guys are back and they’re still massive and very talented, just a little thin in numbers. The offensive line should be a strength for the 2014 Canes, if healthy.

Key Additions

Canes have some good young talent coming in that should be ready to step in right away. Nick Linder, little brother of Brandon Linder, could be ready to help out at the center position, but it remains to be seen if the staff wants to peg a redshirt on him (I would). Kc McDermott and Trevor Darling were the two blue-collar gets for the staff during the past recruiting class and they should be ready to step in and help at the tackle or guard positions right away.

Sunny Odogwu redshirted last season but he’s the biggest human being I’ve seen in person, and when he learns the game completely, he’s going to be a huge problem. Hunter Knighton also redshirted due to an unfortunate injury, but he’s ready and we all know he’s eager to get out there. It’ll be great to see him back out there with his teammates.

Key Losses

  • Seantrel Henderson (Graduation)

    Dec 28, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes offensive linesman Seantrel Henderson (77) as they face the Louisville Cardinals in the Russell Athletic Bowl at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

  • Brandon Linder (Graduation)
  • Jared Wheeler (Graduation)
  • Malcolm Bunche (Transfer to UCLA)

The Seantrel Henderson saga came to an end, with a lot of fans thinking “what if”, and rightfully so. Henderson was a five-star commit coming in but couldn’t quite put it together in his time at Miami. He had reoccurring problems with marijuana and consequently, was suspended multiple times. He’s now with the Buffalo Bills and hopefully he can get it together there, because his talent is undeniable. Linder and Wheeler are both big losses for the team. Linder started all 13 games for the Canes last season and Wheeler added depth to the line, also playing in 13 games. The Bunche transfer to UCLA is a big loss because he was a regular rotation guy for the offensive line last season and he was scheduled for more playing time this season. Best of luck to him with the Bruins.

Impact Players

Ereck Flowers (junior) – Flowers is probably the best offensive linemen out of this group, and that’s a big compliment with the talent at this position. He’s up to 322 pounds to go a long with his 6’6” frame..that’s scary. Flowers will probably take on the task of protecting the quarterback’s blindside this season, whoever that quarterback will be. Flowers has first-round talent all over him, and hopefully he has a good enough season to help reach his potential.

Jon Feliciano (senior) – Feliciano is the “old guy” out of this group, but the man can play and he’s been good during his tenure at Miami. He’s a guy that opens up huge holes for guys like Duke Johnson coming out of the back field, and he’s going to be really important this season because of the amount of runs the offense is scheduled to run. Feliciano has made 25 straight starts for the Canes and he’ll probably be next to Flowers in the left side of the offensive line. That’s the type of tackle-guard combo you want to have if you’re a fan.

Danny Isidora (sophomore) – Unfortunately, Isidora had foot surgery during training camp last season and was forced to miss the majority of the 2013-2014 campaign. The staff had high hopes for him coming in last season, and that’s the case again this season. Isidora has a lot of talent and can play different positions for the Canes, which will nail him a lot of playing time this season, now he just has to stay healthy and he’ll have a really good season for Miami. Isidora will have to have a good training camp, but he’ll probably be in the starting unit for the Canes when they take on Louisville on Labor Day.

Newcomer Surprise?

Sunny Odogwu (Redshirt Freshman) – Okay, he’s not a “newcomer”, but he redshirted his freshmen season so he’s technically still a “newcomer.” This is going a little bit on a limb because we don’t know how much he’s going to get on the field because he’s still learning the game, but being 6’8”, 324 pounds helps a lot. One of the reasons I’m picking him here is because he’s the type of kid that is playing for stuff beyond football. Last season, he talked about how much he wanted to help out Nigeria if he ever made it to NFL, and how the opportunity to even be in America is a blessing. Those are the type of people you want on your team. I have no doubt that once Odogwu puts this game together, he’s going to be an animal, and hopefully it’ll come sooner rather than later.

Kc McDermott (Freshman) – This really isn’t going out on much of a limb because McDermott was a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school and he was one of the dominant players during the under-armour All-American practices and game. McDermott enrolled in January, so he’s had plenty of time to learn the offense and to be inside a college weight room, (even though he’s such a big person already) and because of that the staff is counting on him to help out right away.

Grade

B+ picture

 

 

 

The reason I don’t give the offensive line any higher grade is because it’s replacing a couple of starters, so we have to see how that plays out. Especially with a new quarterback behind the center. The depth is also a little bit of a concern, but I’m sure Golden and co. have a plan with some transfers around camp. The talent is there, however. I don’t know if they’re only going to allow 17 sacks a game this season, but it’ll be a strength for the Canes, if they manage to stay healthy. They’re big, young, fast and athletic and that’s a good combination to have as an offensive line.

On talent, this is an ‘A’ group, but I want to see some of the guys prove that they can do it week in and week out before going there. Still a very good group to have.They’ll be relied upon a lot to open holes for Duke Johnson, but they have to do an even better job protecting the quarterback.

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