Miami football sees explosiveness needed from Mark Pope

MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 14: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 14: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Sophomore wide receiver Mark Pope showed the explosiveness expected of him when he signed with the Miami football program, in 2018.

Sophomore wide receiver Mark Pope obliterated his career receiving and rushing totals for his career in the Hurricanes 63-0 victory over Bethune-Cookman Saturday. The Miami football program has been waiting for Pope to make an impact since he arrived in Coral Gables in 2019.

Entering Saturday’s game Pope had three career receptions for 23 yards and two carries for three yards. Against Bethune-Cookman, Pope had three receptions for 93 yards and one carry for 21 yards.

Pope has frequently been compared to Miami junior wide receiver Jeff Thomas for his ability to make a big play anytime he touches the football. Pope certainly showed that ability on Saturday.  In addition to the 21-yard run, Pope’s longest reception went for 54 yards. Pope has clearly earned more playing time.

Expect to see the sophomore get playing time next week when the Hurricanes host Central Michigan. The Chippewas defeated Akron 45-24 in Mount Pleasant on Saturday. Akron threw for 282 yards and three TDs with an interception. The Zips ran for 47 yards. That could put pressure on Jarren Williams and the passing game.

Williams has been efficient this season. The one thing Miami has lacked are big plays in the passing game. The Hurricanes are ninth in the country with 39 plays of 10 yards or more. Miami has been exceptional in the intermediate passing game. The Hurricanes are 25th with 12 plays of 20 yards or more.

The numbers plummet when the pass plays go from 30 yards and above. Miami simply hasn’t made the big plays in the passing game this season. Pope would help that tremendously. The Hurricanes are 50th with four plays of 30 or more yards, 58th with two plays over 40 yards and their one play over 50 is 41st.

The numbers seem mediocre but were worse before the victory over the FCS Wildcats. Head coach Manny Diaz spoke after the victory over Bethune-Cookman about the boost that Pope’s explosiveness can provide the Hurricanes offense.

"“We knew Mark’s day was coming. It was a great day by Jarren to get him the ball on the post. It was a great call by Dan Enos. We had a feeling he would be one-on-one on that play, which would provide a chance for an explosive play and the same thing on the play he had on the far sideline later on in the game.It was two plays in which we got him in a one-on-one situation and allowed him to be a guy. Even on the play that he got hurt on, you could see he is dynamic. With the leg injury, we will find out. Hopefully it is not too severe.”"

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No information has been made available as of early Sunday evening on the severity of Pope’s injury. It would be a tough blow to Pope and the offense for the Miami football team to lose him for any length of time after he finally showed his talent. If Pope is healthy against Central Michigan he should continue to get reps.