There were positives to be found among the carnage from the University of Miami’s 28-25 loss Saturday at North Carolina.
Monday, the day the Hurricanes (0-2, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) don’t practice, offensive coordinator Dan Enos shared them with the media — two weeks after he was particularly blunt about his disappointment in the play of redshirt freshman Jarren Williams in his college debut.
Enos, who heavily praised Williams, also complimented running backs DeeJay Dallas and Cam’Ron Harris, tight ends Brevin Jordan and Michael Irvin II, new starting right guard Jakai Clark, right tackle DJ Scaife, receivers Jeff Thomas, Mike Harley and K.J. Osborn, tailback Lorenzo Lingard and quarterback/receiver Tate Martell.
“I thought Jarren made a lot of improvement,’’ Enos said of Williams, who completed 30 of 39 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns, a nearly 77 percent accuracy rate. “For the last two weeks there were certain things we asked him to focus on. One thing was just presnap, the whole operation, making it more smooth. We were much less chaotic, so it was a really, really good job by him. He was very poised in the huddle. He did a really good job of communicating, getting the team in and out of the huddle quickly, getting the ball snapped in, again, another tough environment.
”He made a lot of improvement with his play as far as his eyes [and] pocket posture. He showed toughness, he showed courage. He played much better, looked much more poised.
“He looked much more in control of what he was doing.”
Added Enos: “There are things obviously we need to clean up. If you ask Jarren he’ll tell you he missed a couple things too, which I think just comes from playing.’’
In the running game, Dallas finished with 107 yards on 14 carries (7.6 yards per carry) and Harris added 60 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries (6-yard average).
“They ran hard,’’ Enos said. “Those guys were both very determined.
“One emphasis we’ve made from Coach Diaz that has permeated down throughout our staff is that we’re going to run north. We’re going to get the ball and not be an east-west team. We’re going to run downhill. I thought those guys exemplified that Saturday night.”
Enos said that in his experience, “when one is on the sideline watching the other one run hard, they kind of realize, ‘When I get out there I better run just as determined and just as hard.’ ...Both those guys played very physical. It’s too bad Cam had two long runs called back [the past two weeks because of penalties]. He’s kind of had some bad luck.”
The offensive line, which started true freshman Clark at right guard, in turn moving young veteran Scaife to right tackle instead of opening-game starter John Campbell, was much improved, indicated Enos.
“Jakai had a really good fall camp and he played most of the time as our backup center,’’ Enos said. “He’ll be a really good center someday. He’s really smart. He’s got great balance. That’s the one thing about offensive lineman and guys that play on their feet and can get moved but can continue to stay on guys and cover guys up. That’s a huge plus for that position. Jakai has outstanding balance and body control.”
Enos explained that Scaife’s versatility is a great help to the offense.
“He’s played tackle for us on the left side and right side and he has played guard at both sides. We wanted to experiment with him at right tackle to solidify one of the tackle spots with at least a guy that had some experience. Not really anything John did wrong. We think he has a bright future as well. ...DJ played very well. He’s very physical, very good in pass protection.
“...As a true freshman in that environment to get your first start, we thought [Clark] performed very well.”
Who also played well enough to have given the Canes at least a chance to win?
Enos mentioned his tailbacks, receivers Williams, Thomas Harley and Osborn, and three offensive linemen he didn’t want to name individually.
“K.J. in particular made some big plays. He made some tough, contested catches and played very well. ...One thing we do like is we’re playing a lot more physical on the perimeter. [Wide receivers] Coach [Taylor] Stubblefield has done a really good job.”
Enos elaborated on receivers Brian Hightower, Dee Wiggins and Mark Pope getting into the game, as well as freshman tight end Larry Hodges.
“We tried to play a lot more players. That was a goal of ours and we want to continue to do that.”
The coach gushed about starting tight end Jordan, and said he wants Jordan’s former quarterback at Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High, Martell, to “get more action.” He also said he’s looking forward to playing Lingard, who is in the end stages of rehabilitating from knee surgery.
“Lorenzo Lingard, when he gets fully back cleared and ready to roll, he’s looked really good these last couple days practicing. He’ll have an opportunity to play and we feel really good about him and think he has a bright future as well.
“It’s a lot better for your morale when you have more guys playing just from a mental standpoint coming over to practice for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. They all come over here with maybe a little bit more jump in their step.”
▪ UM’s home game against Central Michigan has been set for Sept. 21 at 4 p.m. on ACC Network, which cannot be seen in most South Florida homes because Comcast and AT&T subscribers don’t have access to the new network.