Miami Hurricanes OL looks greatly improved due to spread

The Miami Hurricanes offensive line has had a great shift to make this offseason changing from a pro-style offense to the up-tempo spread.

The Miami Hurricanes offensive line has quickly grasped the up-tempo, spread offense under new coordinator Rhett Lashlee according to head coach Manny Diaz. Diaz is impressed with how quickly his offensive linemen have adapted to the new system after just four days of spring practice.

Miami returns its entire offensive line from 2019. The well-documented struggles under former offensive coordinator Dan Enos in the antiquated pro-style offense created more time that the offensive line had to pass protect. The fast pace that that Miami offense is installing has benefitted the entire Miami football team.

The Miami Hurricanes finished up their first week of spring practice on Friday before taking off next week for spring break. The simplifying of the Hurricanes offense has allowed the players into a mode of reacting more than thinking. The uptempo will also tire out opposing defensive lines which will also help the Miami offensive line.

There has been some shuffling during the first week of spring practice and Miami is missing three-year starter Navaughn Donaldson at guard who is out for the spring recovering from a knee injury. Diaz spoke to the media after practice on Friday about what he has seen so far with the offensive line.

“They look like they have been running it for their entire life…I went up to one of our graduate assistants and told him I can’t believe we have only been running it for four days and it already looks so polished. By no stretch does that mean that we have it all figured out, but they have made obvious improvements.

When it was full-blown tackling today, we could run the ball and that was obviously a sore spot for us last year. I think they will take some confidence after their first week with Garin Justice.”

David Lake from Inside the U quoted Diaz explaining his praise of the Hurricanes offensive line this week. Lake was at practice on Friday and observed the offensive line. Some veterans and freshmen worked into the rotation up front for Miami on Friday. Freshman Jalen Rivers has been consistently impressive this week.

Rivers has impressed with his size and athleticism according to Lake. There has been some conjecture that for the Miami offensive line to improve significantly as they greatly need to be in 2020, Rivers has to be at the very least part of the rotation and possibly a starter. Freshmen have contributed greatly to the offensive line recently.

Donaldson started as a true freshman on the 2017 Miami Hurricanes ACC Coastal Division title team, Delone Scaife started as a true freshman in 2018 and Jakai Clark and Zion Nelson were starters for most of the 2019 season. Redshirt freshman John Campbell was a part-time starter last season.

Only Donaldson was rated higher than Rivers coming out of high school. At 6’6, 331 pounds, Rivers is eventually slated to be a tackle but could play inside this season. Rivers was the second-team left guard according to Lake during practice on Friday.

Campbell and Kai-Leon Herbert were the first team tackles with Zalon’tae Hillery and Nelson second team. Ousmane Traore and Scaife practiced with the first team at guard and redshirt junior Corey Gaynor was the center. The remainder of the second team was redshirt sophomore Cleveland Reed at guard and Clark at center.

Lake liked the aggression that Herbert played with. Entering his fourth season in the Miami football program getting the former four-star signee Herbert to contribute this season and in 2021 is long overdue. Herbert, Hillery and former 2017 signee Zach Dykstra‘s inability to develop hindered the Miami offensive line.

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Dykstra recently announced he would be entering the transfer portal. The Iowa native has yet to announce his future destination. New offensive line coach Garin Justice has been praised by Lake and the pool of beat reporters for bringing a positive approach and not being a coach that yells or screams at his players.

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