Miami Hurricanes challenge getting Mark Pope snaps in slot

Apr 20, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 20, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

The observation from Miami Hurricanes radio analyst Don Bailey Jr. that fourth-year wide receiver Mark Pope could play primarily in the slot via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald provides more questions than answers. Fifth-year WR Mike Harley thrived in the slot for Miami. Harley led Miami in all three receiving categories.

Harley had 57 receptions for 799 yards and seven touchdowns in 2020. Pope had 33 for 403 and two TDs and continued to struggle with drops. Pro Football Focus recorded Harley with 728 receiving yards and all seven of his TDs from the slot in 2020 per Jackson. That was seventh nationally and first among 2021 returnees.

Pope will be challenged for snaps in the slot by second-year WR Xavier Restrepo. Restrepo finished with one reception for 12 yards during his first season with the Miami Hurricanes in 2020. Pope has 52 receptions for 680 yards and four TDs. The six drops Pope had in 2020 need to be minimized or his snaps will decrease.

Miami could potentially have enough snaps for Harley, Pope and Restrepo to play in the slot. The Hurricanes ran 803 plays in 11 games in 2020. In the second year under Rhett Lashlee as offensive coordinator, those numbers could increase. If Pope moves to the slot that opens snaps for younger WRs.

Oklahoma transfer Charleston Rambo will start at one outside WR. Fourth-year Dee Wiggins returns as a starter and is the likely favorite to start opposite Rambo. Wiggins will be pushed by second-year WRs Michael Redding III and Keyshawn Smith. Miami enters the 2021 season with quality depth at WR.

Next. Miami ACC darkhorse as college football playoff contender. dark

The Lashlee spread, up-tempo offense often relies on WRs producing yards after the catch. Jackson noted that In 2020 Harley was sixth in FBS with 368 yards after the catch in 2020. How well Pope does with quick slants after the catch could determine his snaps. Restrepo is the likely future for Miami in the slot.