Miami Hurricanes will stick with offensive line through UNC

ORLANDO, FL - AUGUST 24: Jarren Williams #15 of the Miami Hurricanes warns up before the Camping World Kickoff game against the Florida Gators at Camping World Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - AUGUST 24: Jarren Williams #15 of the Miami Hurricanes warns up before the Camping World Kickoff game against the Florida Gators at Camping World Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Miami Hurricanes offensive line was abysmal in the season-opening loss to Florida. The 10 sacks and several penalties upfront are cause for concern for the remainder of the season.

Asked in the post-game and other media appearances during the week Manny Diaz stated that the Miami Hurricanes are staying with the freshmen tackle tandem of Zion Nelson and John Campbell for the foreseeable future. Diaz liked the way they stood in there and faced the adversity of continually get beaten throughout the night.

The 10 sacks allowed were the most for Miami since a 2005 loss to Florida State when the Hurricanes allowed nine. Miami will not face another pass rush this season as adept as Florida has. Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham coaches a tough, fast aggressive defense. Florida finished tied for 19th in 2018 averaging 2.85 sacks per game.

Facing the experience and talented Florida defensive line in their first game protecting another freshman at quarterback led to a disastrous combination in pass protection. Diaz and Miami Hurricanes offensive coordinator Dan Enos have stated that about half of the sacks were on Miami QB Jarren Williams for not getting rid of the ball.

In the criticism that came during and after the game, Diaz mentioned that payback will be tough for opponents in the future. Diaz is loyal to his players, but unless they come through and improve as Diaz has stated, there is no way Miami can stay with Nelson and Campbell as their bookends at tackle.

For now, Campbell and Nelson will start against North Carolina. Diaz has repeatedly stated throughout the offseason and leading up to Florida that the Hurricanes were not built for August 24. Diaz and his staff are building a program not just a team for one game against Florida.

"“Those are our guys…And let me tell you something, they never flinched, they never blinked. They got beat, that’s going to happen. It’s hard to play as a true freshman in that setting. They got some good dudes. They got some dudes that seniors would have a hard time blocking.But we’re not building this program – we didn’t build this program for August 24. The idea here is to build a monster that lasts, and that’s sustainable. I’m proud of the way those guys did. You could see early on in the game some nerves, which is to be expected when you got an older guy against a younger guy.But you know what, I know this from coaching (our) linebackers the last three years, payback’s a bitch. And what happens to freshmen is they turn into sophomores and eventually they turn into juniors and if you get the right type of guy like we have at linebacker, they turn into seniors.And sometimes those seniors go out and play against some other freshmen. Like I said, it’ll be fun to watch those guys develop.”"

The criticism on social media from mainly the Miami Hurricanes fanbase is that there should have been a change on the Hurricanes offensive line either during the game or at least for North Carolina with two weeks to prepare. Diaz was asked if they thought about making a chance upfront.

"“Thought about everything…tried every combination…I want to make a point on this, too, sacks do not define offensive line play — at all…There were easy throws in the first half where we’re moving Jarren out of the pocket and a tight end forgets to block the defensive end or we step the wrong way.Or, we don’t fan out to a linebacker that we should pick up, which means the back gets taken, which means the linebacker who is supposed to be picked up by the back man-to-man comes through unblocked and sacks the quarterback. But the ball should have been out three counts before that.So everybody understands it’s an 11-man job to protect our quarterback. And we don’t operate in vacuums where we can assess this and that.So that’s all part of the game. That’s what we had to do the last seven minutes when we’re in desperation drop-back mode. That’s part of the reason why it looked the way it looked. But we wouldn’t have cared if we’d caught one of those passes in the end zone our last drive and run out of there (ahead), 27-24.They could have sacked us 19 times. If we would have had 27 points, we would have cared less.”"

Pro Football focus was low of the Miami offensive tackles and high on the interior of the Hurricanes offensive line. Nelson’s score from PFF was one of the lowest ever seen. Campbell was not much better.

"MIAMI’S OFFENSIVE LINE STRUGGLES“The Miami offensive line was arguably their biggest weakness on paper entering the season opener against Florida. The Hurricanes’ front five allowed a total of 18 pressures on the team’s 48 dropbacks.True freshman left tackle Zion Nelson really saw the brunt end of the struggles, allowing seven pressures himself and a lowly pass-blocking grade. If there was a shining moment in the Miami trenches, it was left guard Nevaughn Donaldson, who did not allow a pressure on his 48 snaps in pass protection.”"

Nelson’s PFF grade of 1.7 (out of 100) against Florida is unheard of. Campbell surrendered six QB pressures and graded around 42 or 43. Miami offensive coordinator Dan Enos and offensive line coach Butch Barry have to do something to change their protection for North Carolina.

There are multiple options for Enos and Barry to help the O-line in protection. Moving Delone Scaife to right tackle has been one of the suggestions. If the Hurricanes moved Scaife to RT the possibilities would be to move Campbell to right guard or have Cleveland Reed succeed Scaife there.

Cleaning up mistakes during bye week critical for Miami. dark. Next

Keeping the tight ends in more often to help with protection and chipping more often have been suggested. Better pass protection is critical for the Miami Hurricanes for the remainder of the season.