Miami Hurricanes DL and WRs will have bigger roles in Sun Bowl

Sep 18, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

The decisions by Miami Hurricanes defensive linemen Jon Ford and Deandre Johnson and wide receiver Charleston Rambo to opt-out of the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl game on December 31 will provide the opportunity for several young players to receive more snaps.  Jacolby George will likely start in place of Rambo.

George has seven receptions for 183 yards and one touchdown and his 26.1 yards per reception leads Miami this season. Jared Harrison-Hunte was listed as a co-starter with Ford and Nesta Silvera in the final Miami regular-season game against Duke last month. Chantz Williams was listed as the backup to Johnson.

Jahfari Harvey who is the backup to the other Miami starting DE Zach McCloud was starting earlier this season. Harvey, McCloud and Williams are likely to receive the majority of the Miami snaps at DE against Washington State. Leonard Taylor will see an increase in snaps at DT.

Taylor was extremely productive this season in a limited amount of snaps. The true freshman tied Johnson for the team lead with 8.5 tackles for loss and addedd 21 tackles, two sacks and one pass breakup. Taylor could dominate a depleted Washington State offensive line.

George had his biggest game of the season against Duke with three receptions for 80 yards. Romello Brinson who signed with George in the Class of 2021 will also likely see an increase in snaps in the Sun Bowl. Without Rambo, starter Keyshawn Smith should benefit with more targets.

Smith has 26 receptions for 332 yards and three TDs this season. Brinson has seven receptions for 90 yards. Interim offensive coordinator Rob Likens could get creative and give more snaps to backup slot receivers Xavier Restrepo and Brashard Smith. Restrepo has 24 receptions for 373 yards and two TDs.

Brashard Smith showed promise as a big-play receiver this season. Smith had 14 receptions for 199 yards and two TDs that each went for 75 yards. Miami’s all-time leading receiver Mike Harley will be available as the starting slot receiver in his final college game. Washington State was 48th nationally in pass defense this season.

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The Cougars allow 217.4 passing yards per game. Miami is 10th nationally averaging 321.2 passing yards per game. Hurricanes quarterback Tyler Van Dyke and the Miami receiving corps will be tested against Washington State.  Van Dyke closed the 2021 season with five straight games of 300 yards and three TDs.