When UM lost Malek Young to a career-ending neck injury and Dee Delaney to the NFL (Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad), there immediately became a concern about Miami’s level of veteran depth at cornerback.
That concern became a problem Sunday after Trajan Bandy was ejected after only three snaps because of a targeting penalty.
That disqualification elevated senior Jhavonte Dean into a more prominent role, and it did not go well. Dean allowed a 36-yard completion during an LSU scoring drive and permitted several other catches while playing on the boundary, opposite Michael Jackson.
“They only completed like three passes of over 10 yards, and [those] three were in essence his responsibility,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “But most of it, the more disappointing part was two of them were coverage checks. It’s the idea of being able to answer a question on a motion before the play, where you’re not just leaving the guy wide open because they put a guy in motion. That’s all part of maturation of a player.”
Daniel Gould, who broke down game tape for the Palm Beach Post last season and is now doing the same for the Miami Herald, said Dean allowed four completions in five targets for 93 yards on his 39 snaps. According to Gould, freshman DJ Ivey replaced Dean in the lineup and ended up playing 21 of the final 23 defense snaps opposite Jackson.
Bottom line: If Dean isn’t any more reliable than what he showed Sunday, UM will need at least three of its four freshmen cornerbacks to help significantly this season. Ivey and Al Blades appear the most ready of the four freshmen. Blades logged seven snaps on defense Sunday. Freshmen cornerbacks Nigel Bethel and Gilbert Frierson did not get any defensive snaps.
Some other tidbits from Gould’s film breakdown of the UM-LSU game:
▪ Romeo Finley and Derrick Smith – both playing the new “striker” position that’s a linebacker/safety hybrid – both held up well in pass coverage. The one pass thrown against Finley was incomplete. Smith allowed one completion for three yards.
Finley played 16 snaps, Smith 12.
▪ Cornerback Jackson, who bypassed the NFL to return for his senior season, allowed two of four passes in his coverage area to be completed for 21 yards. Blades allowed one of two to be caught for nine yards.
▪ Here’s how the receiver snaps broke down against LSU:
Jeff Thomas played 52 of UM’s 73 offensive snaps, Lawrence Cager 42, Darrell Langham 40, Brian Hightower 24, Mike Harley 23, Ahmmon Richards just 16 (because of a bone bruise on one of his knees), Evidence Njoku 9 and Daquris Wiggins 6.
Freshmen receivers Mark Pope and Marquez Ezzard did not get any offensive snaps, per Gould.
▪ Freshman tight end Brevin Jordan played 70 of UM’s 73 offensive snaps. Freshman Will Mallory played seven and Brian Polendey one.
▪ Among running backs, Travis Homer played 46 snaps, DeeJay Dallas 21 and Trayone Gray eight. Robert Burns and freshmen Lorenzo Lingard and Camron Davis did not get an offensive snap.
▪ Jahair Jones (62 snaps), Hayden Mahoney (57) and Venzell Boulware (27) shared guard snaps.
▪ At defensive end, Joe Jackson played 55 of UM’s 63 defensive snaps, Jon Garvin 54, Scott Patchan 9 and Demetrius Jackson 8.
Per Gould, ballyhooed freshman defensive end Gregory Rousseau did not get a defensive snap — surprising because Mark Richt had said he would play.
▪ At defensive tackle, Gerald Willis played 54 snaps and was excellent; Pat Bethel 48; Tito Odenigbo 11 and Jon Ford 7. Freshmen Nesta Silvera and Jordan Miller didn’t get any defensive snaps.
▪ Mike Smith got the most snaps of the backup linebackers (15).