Miami football won’t be back until trenches improve

Sep 4, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 4, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

In season openers in three of the last four years against SEC teams, the Miami football team has been dominated on the line of scrimmage. Alabama, Florida and LSU combined for 29 tackles for loss and 18 sacks. The Miami football team had 23 TFLs and four sacks combined against the Crimson Tide, Gators and Tigers.

The Hurricanes also struggled running and stopping the run. Miami was able to stop the run against Florida, but Alabama and LSU thrived on the ground. Alabama and LSU combined for 69 carries for 303 yards which is 4.39 yards per carry. Florida managed only 28 carries for 50 yards in the 2019 opener against Miami.

The Hurricanes have been abysmal running in their three openers against SEC teams in the last three seasons. Miami combined for 101 carries for 258 for 2.55 YPC combined in the losses to the Tigers, Gators and Crimson Tide. Until Miami gets better in the trenches it will be extremely difficult to compete in big games.

National college football analysts and potential recruits for Miami has noticed how the Hurricanes have been dominated upfront in losses to SEC teams and in other big games. Four-star 2023 American Heritage running back Mark Fletcher and Brandon Marcello spoke out following the loss to Alabama about the trenches.

"“This did affect me with Miami most definitely…Because I want to go somewhere they’re great in the trenches.”"

Fletcher spoke to Canesport as quoted in the Miami Herald by Barry Jackson. A running back wants to see an offensive line who can create lanes for him and protect the quarterback. According to Pro Football Focus via Jackson, D.J. Scaife, Corey Gaynor and Jalen Rivers each allowed sacks.

Scaife was pulled after 13 snaps after being beaten that resulting in a strip-sack for Alabama. Justice Oluwaseun replaced Scaife for the remainder of the game. Gaynor and Rivers played all 66 snaps on offense. Alabama had seven TFLs, four sacks and held Miami to 31 carries for 88 yards. Marcello added his thoughts.

"“Still, the Hurricanes don’t look the part of a top-5 program. The talent and depth is just not there in the trenches.”"

Seven Miami offensive linemen were four-stars coming out of high school. Alabama has 11 four-star OL on its roster and five who are five-stars. Miami was far behind Alabama in the trenches. The Hurricanes signed five-star defensive tackle Leonard Taylor in 2021. Taylor needs to become a dominant force for Miami.

Under Manny Diaz, the Miami football program has been good at developing defensive linemen. Former Hurricanes’ edge rushers Jaelan Phillips and Greg Rousseau were selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Phillips and Rousseau never played together at Miami. Rousseau opted out for the 2021 season.

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Rousseau was named second-team All-American after 19.5 TFLs and 15. sacks in 2019. Phillips earned second-team All-American in 2020 after recording 15 TFLs and eight sacks. They could have been a big help against Alabama. The talent and development for Miami have to improve to compete at a higher level.