Miami Hurricanes need to improve WR corps to reach CFP Elite

Nov 9, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA;. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 9, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA;. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The lack of consistent production from the Miami Hurricanes wide receivers this season allowed Clemson to make Miami one dimensional because of the lack of a downfield threat.

Clemson provided a blueprint on how to stifle the Miami Hurricanes offense. The Tigers stacked the box and forced D’Eriq King to attempt long passes. The Miami wide receivers were unable to get enough separation to connect on long pass attempts to force Clemson to respect the Miami passing game.

The Miami Hurricanes were four for 15 on third down against Clemson after converting 24 out of 46 third-down attempts in their first three games. Clemson owned Miami on passing downs. Miami had a 15 percent conversion rate on passing downs according to Bud Elliott of 247Sports.Com.

Passing downs as defined by Elliott were second eight or more and third down and five or more. On the season Miami is 27-41 for 252 yards, no touchdowns and one interception with a 112.60 passer rating on second down. On third down and 4-6 yards to go Miami is 8-13 for 85 yards with three TDs and no interceptions in 2020.

On third down and seven to nine yards, Miami is 1-3 for 19 yards with an interception. On third down and 10 or more yards to go the Hurricanes are 12-17 for 167 yards with a TD and no interceptions. Tight end Brevin Jordan has been King’s go-to receiver. Jordan has 10 receptions for first downs in 2020.

"“This was complete domination and the score does not reflect the totality of the beatdown…Clemson outgained Miami 462-132 before garbage time. The Clemson defense held Miami to just a 15 percent success rate on passing downs (2nd and 8+, 3rd and 5+).It kept QB D’Eriq King in the pocket and forced more than 20 long down and distance situations before garbage time. Miami’s running backs had just 11 yards on 10 carries. The Miami receivers before garbage time had just 33 yards on 15 targets.Miami’s offense is at least decent, but what it is doing is not going to be consistently effective against the best defenses in college football at this point with the players it has. It is good enough, however, to win a lot of its remaining games.”"

Miami Hurricanes running backs Cam Harris, Don Chaney Jr. and Jaylan Knighton are playmakers. Clemson stacked the box and forced King to beat them deep. The Miami  WRs were unable to get create separation and make the explosive plays the Hurricanes had winning its first three games of 2020.

Miami needs players at WR who can produce at the same level as Jordan. Jordan leads Miami with 18 receptions for 243 yards and three TDs. Senior Mike Harley leads the Miami WRs with 15 receptions for 127 yards and no TDs. New offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee has stated that his offense doesn’t need an alpha receiver.

Jordan is listed as the 29th best receiving TE in college football per Pro Football Focus. Harley is listed as the 182nd best pass-catching WR (not including ratings blocking) by PFF out of 271 nationally. Miami needs far more production at WR from players who are currently ranked below their recruiting rankings.

Harley is the highest-rated of the Miami WRs who qualify when just rating their ability as a pass-catcher. If the Lashlee offense is going to evolve receivers have to develop more. Harley was a four-star signee out of high school and starter

Mark Pope

was a borderline five-star signee.

Miami has three commits at WR for 2021


Romello Brinson and Jacolby George are four-stars and Breshard Smith is a speedy, explosive, versatile three-star commit who the staff is high on. As has been the case too often, Miami has failed to sign five-star WRs from South Florida. Jacorey Brooks who was originally at Booker T. Washington is committed to Alabama.

Brinson or George or one of the WRs currently on the roster are going to have to exceed their rankings when they signed. King has had to rely too much on Jordan and the RBs in the passing game. That also helps opponents stack the box against Miami and force them to complete long passes.

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Until the Miami passing game has deep threats at WR and pass catchers who are capable of fighting for 50/50 balls, the Hurricanes passing game will suffer and opponents will continue to stack the box. A WR with those credentials may or may not exist currently on the roster. The offense has enough to thrive in 2020.