Short Miami Hurricanes WR rotation dictated by 10 offensive possessions

ORLANDO, FL - AUGUST 24:(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - AUGUST 24:(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

One of the biggest criticisms of the Miami Hurricanes loss to Florida was the limited rotation they used at wide receiver.

The Miami Hurricanes basically went four deep in the wide receiver rotation with just ten possessions in Saturday’s loss to Florida. First-team WRs K.J. Osborn, Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley received most of the reps with Tate Martell playing 15 snaps.

Most of the criticism against Manny Diaz and Dan Enos centered on the amount of time Martell saw the field. The criticism towards Martell from the Miami Hurricanes fan base was aimed towards Martell only having switched to WR the week prior to playing Florida.

Diaz stated in the post-game on Saturday night that Martell received playing time over sophomores Mark Pope, Brian Hightower and Dee Wiggins and freshman Jeremiah Payton because of the chaos he causes a defense. Martell can do multiple things when he is on the field. Martell’s playing time makes Miami a more diverse offense.

"“Tate had more snaps, I think, because of some of the things in packages that we were doing…The other guys, they’re going to play as we feel that we want to put our best guys on the field that we thought had a chance to make plays. Well, he’s a threat…There’s obviously a lot of creativity that we can do with him.There’s things that didn’t get called in the game, so there will be more to that, but he’s a guy that, I think, that if you’re playing defense, you’ll want to know if he’s on the field and you’ll want to know where he’s aligned because it can make you change up your game plan pretty quick.”"

Diaz was pretty clear in his comments from the Sun-Sentinel that fans who are critical of Martell better get used to the idea of him playing. Diaz and Enos like the possibilities Martell creates when he is on the field and the fact that opposing defenses have to account for where he is.

As a former quarterback and exceptional runner, Martell can run, pass or run a route as a receiver. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald relayed through their correspondent Daniel Gould that “Hightower played four, Pope two and Wiggins none on offense.” Payton and Evidence Njoku did not play. At this point, Njoku is far down on the WR depth chart.

Pope was the only one of the five mentioned who was targeted against Florida. He finished with one reception for four yards on his only target of the night. Two of Martell’s snaps came in the Wildcat at QB. Martell being used as a decoy keeps opposing defenses guessing.

The snap counts for the starting WRs were Osborn playing all 71 offensive snaps, Thomas 54 and Harley 46. The Miami Hurricanes WRs did not produce much against Florida. Thomas finished the night with two receptions for 28 yards and one carry for 16 yards, Osborn had five receptions for 43 yards and Harley one for 12.

One of the biggest reasons for the snaps counts of the WRs had significantly more to do with Osborn and Thomas separating themselves from the rest of the corps than it does with Martell. Diaz discussed Thomas and Osborn getting more playing time.

"“Just the way that Jeff and Mike and KJ have kind of separated themselves from the other guys [is the reason]…It’s a game where, and also the snap count — we had the ball the last seven minutes of the game which is crunch time. It was a game where we only had 10 offensive possessions, a little unique in that.Just on the field where everything mattered so the bench is a little shorter than it would normally be. But going forward we expect to rotate more guys and will probably do so on (September 7 at North Carolina).”"

Miami gashed North Carolina 47-10 last season. This year is different with the game being played in Chapel Hill. The Hurricanes will still be a big favorite. Miami scored three defensive touchdowns in last year’s victory. The offensive did not have to do much. N’Kosi Perry attempted only 12 passes in the victory.

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The expectation is for Miami to continue to keep the passing offense conservative. That benefits the tight ends, running backs and Osborn who is seen more as a possession receiver. The Hurricanes attempted ten passes at or behind the line of scrimmage and eight 11-20 yards. Jarren Willims finished the game 19-27.