Miami Hurricanes offensive line needs continued development

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - SEPTEMBER 19:. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - SEPTEMBER 19:. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Miami Hurricanes offensive line showed great improvement from 2019 to 2020. Miami allowed 2.73 sacks per game in 2020 which was 10th in the ACC down from 3.92 and 13th in the conference in 2019. The Hurricanes OL regressed allowing 7.91 tackles for loss in 2020 up from 7.08 in 2019.

The Miami Hurricanes were 10th in the ACC in TFLs allowed in 2019 and 14th in 2020. Pass protection and run blocking is a complicated team effort. Many of the sacks Miami allowed in 2020 were not on the offensive line. Some were on the running backs, with others on quarterbacks holding the ball too long.

Miami returns its entire offensive line in 2020. The Hurricanes have a cumulative 169 starts in their collegiate careers entering 2021. In the Cheez-it Bowl game against Oklahoma State, Miami started D.J Scaife, Jakai Clark, Zion Nelson, Jarrid Williams and Corey Gaynor. Those five would seem to be favorites to start this fall.

Miami also returns redshirt senior Navaughn Donaldson who has started 34 of the 39 games he has played for the Hurricanes in the last four seasons. Donaldson played in only two games last season while recovering from a knee injury. Second-year freshmen Jalen Rivers and Issiah Walker will also challenge for snaps on the OL.

Miami quarterback D’Eriq King helps the Hurricanes to avoid sacks with his elusiveness but often held on to the ball too long. The Miami OL did a bit better in run blocking with an average of 4.24 rushing yards per carry to rank ninth in the ACC. Miami finished 94th nationally with a stuff rate of 20.4 percent.

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The OL showed great improvement from 2019 to 2020. With everyone returning in 2020, plus Donaldson, Rivers and Walker challenging to be on the first-team or at least adding depth, the Hurricanes need to continue to develop on the OL in 2021. The Miami OL will be tested immediately in the opener against Alabama.