How will Miami Hurricanes balance one healthy TE vs Duke?

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 06: Brevin Jordan #9 of the Miami Hurricanes scores a touchdown in the second half against the Florida State Seminoles at Hard Rock Stadium on October 6, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 06: Brevin Jordan #9 of the Miami Hurricanes scores a touchdown in the second half against the Florida State Seminoles at Hard Rock Stadium on October 6, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

For the second season in a row, the Miami Hurricanes are dealing with injury-related attrition at tight end. How will Mark Richt and his staff handle having starter Brevin Jordan as the only scholarship tight end healthy on Saturday versus Duke?

In 2017 Christopher Herndon IV was the primary tight end for the vast majority of the season. Herndon suffered a season-ending torn MCL in the Miami Hurricanes final regular season game against Pittsburgh. Michael Irvin II took over as the starting tight end in the final two games of 2017.

Irvin was set to battle to be the starting tight end this season. He played with the first team during training camp until he tore his own MCL that has him on track to be out for four months.  After initially stating that Irvin might return for the Miami Hurricanes bowl game he is now out for the remainder of the season.

Miami is also missing Sophomore tight end Brian Polendey who also suffered a significant injury early in the season. He had season-ending knee surgery. That put the Miami Hurricanes down to two scholarship tight ends.

On Wednesday news came out from the Miami Atheltic Department that Freshman tight end Will Mallory will almost definitely miss Saturday’s game against Duke and could be out indefinitely. That leaves Brevin Jordan as the only healthy scholarship tight end on the Miami roster that will play on Saturday.

Miami Hurricanes Head Coach Mark Richt was quoted in the Sun Sentinel discussing what they will do going forward at tight end.

"“Polendey and Irvin are out for the year, and Mallory, it doesn’t look like he’ll play. He has not practiced this week. There’s a very good chance that he won’t play. We’re not counting him out 100 percent yet, but it doesn’t look very promising, and so we’ve got one scholarship tight end, period.He’s a true freshman, Brevin Jordan. Obviously Brevin has done a nice job for us and all. But … we’ve got Brevin Jordan as I mentioned, and then we have a walk-on tight end named Nick Ducheine. So I’ll be honest with you, I’m not even sure what number Ducheine is going to wear.But if you see another tight end in there besides Brevin, that will be who it is. We don’t have a lot of depth at all right now.”"

Jordan has done an exceptional job this season. He leads the Hurricanes with 26 receptions for 244 yards and is second with four touchdown catches. Jordan’s 41-yard touchdown reception from N’Kosi Perry against Florida State in the fourth quarter was the game winner.

It helped the Hurricanes complete a 20 point comeback. Jordan showed his exceptional versatility on the play by going deep down the left sideline for the touchdown.

When Miami has struggled with tight end depth over the last few seasons they have moved defensive lineman to the other side of the ball to compensate. Alum Standish Dobard and current Hurricanes defensive end Scott Patchan have both spent time at tight end. Richt doesn’t see that as an option this season.

"“There’s no way they could learn what to do and be functional at tight end. You’d have to just go to different personnel groups if something happened. You’d have to go two backs and three receivers or something like that.To try to teach a guy what to do at tight end on a week’s notice would be literally impossible. You’re better off just trying to get into another personnel group that gives you a better shot at guys knowing what to do”"

In other words, expect to see the Hurricanes utilize more three wide receiver sets and possibly use the fullback more. It would be surprising if Miami doesn’t use a fullbacks Trayone Gray and Realus George more often in short yards when the Hurricanes need an extra blocker.

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Having the extra blocker is big on third down, especially on third and short. After being one of the worst teams in the country on third down last season the Hurricanes are vastly improved in 2018. They rank 32nd nationally in third-down conversions this season.