Barry Jackson

Here’s how poorly the Hurricanes’ offense ranks nationally and how Richt can fix it

Mark Richt said he’s spending the bye week evaluating everything about Miami’s offense, a process that led him to announce on Wednesday that Malik Rosier will start at quarterback on Oct. 26 at Boston College.

And Richt is not going to like what many of the numbers show. Consider:

Miami is 77th in the country in yards per game (399), just behind the likes of Buffalo, Fresno, Marshall, Eastern Michigan and Michigan State.

The Hurricanes are 91st in passing yards per game, at 211.1. The Canes’ 7.7 yards per attempts ranks 56th. Their cumulative passer rating is 59th in the country.

Miami has allowed 16 sacks, tied for 36th most among 130 major college programs.

Only 10 teams have thrown more interceptions than UM’s eight.

UM’s quarterbacks are completing 47 percent of their passes against Power 5 conference teams.

Miami’s 4.7 yards per carry ranks 46th.

The Canes are 35th in points per game at 37.4, but without the 77 points against Savannah State, the average would be 30.8 per game, mediocre by today’s standards. And three of those scores were defensive touchdowns.

UM hasn’t reached 30 points offensively in any of its last seven games against Power 5 conference teams. This year, Miami had 17 against LSU, 26 against North Carolina (the 21 other points were scored on defensive touchdowns), 28 against FSU and 13 against Virginia.

So what should Richt do? A few thoughts:

1) As Herald correspondent Daniel Gould noted, in the “last five games of 2016, Richt changed the offense to let Brad Kaaya make quick throws.”

Miami then went 5-0 with Kaaya averaging 310 passing yards per game with 62 percent completion percentage, 14 touchdowns and one interception.

Because of Rosier’s subpar accuracy, more bubble screens and short throws are absolutely essential..

Consider this: On balls that are in the air for between 11 and 19 yards, Rosier is 8 for 19 this season and Perry 10 for 21. On balls that are in the air for 20 yards or more, Rosier is 9 for 25, Perry 8 for 16.

At one time, Rosier was a pretty good deep ball passer. But he hasn’t been particularly good on vertical throws this season and Miami shouldn’t be trying more than a two or three per game.

2) Add more misdirection and movement to make the offense less predictable.

Richt has simplified the offense so it’s easier for Perry to run. But it’s made UM’s offense easier to defend.

Starting Rosier will actually allow UM to add more wrinkles to the offense, despite Rosier’s limitations. That’s because Rosier has a greater ability to decipher college defenses primarily because of experience, according to a UM source.

3) Add some spread elements to the offense and more designed runs to capitalize on one of Rosier’s greatest strengths.

4) See what the five-star freshmen can do. Lorenzo Lingard has just 17 carries all season, for 136 yards (an 8.0 average).

Receiver Mark Pope has just five targets and no catches all year. And four-star tight end Will Mallory has just four targets, with one catch, for two yards.

Those are potentially three of the most talented offensive players on the roster, and Lingard and Pope are two of the fastest. It wouldn’t hurt to incorporate them more.

5) When the running game is struggling, use a fullback more — either Trayone Gray (who has just 53 offensive snaps all season, per Gould) or Realus George (who has just nine).

6) Inject more creative plays, including reverses to Jeff Thomas, who has just one carry all season (for 19 yards) and two in his career.

7) Settle on an offensive line instead of the repeated rotation at guard, with Jahair Jones, Hayden Mahoney, Venzell Boulware and now Navaughn Donaldson sharing snaps after his move from tackle back to guard. And hope D.J. Scaife is much better than he was against Virginia.

Here’s the underlying problem: Richt likes to run a power offense, with runs up the gut, and throw the ball downfield, but he doesn’t have the personnel to do it with the success he would like.

Richt’s offensive line isn’t nearly good enough. Unless Lingard eventually proves to be that guy, he doesn’t have elite, big backs like he did at Georgia (Todd Gurley and Sony Michel). And he doesn’t have a quarterback nearly close to the level of Matt Stafford and Aaron Murray, two of his best at Georgia.

And that, in a nutshell, is why this UM offense continues to perform at levels below what anyone would have hoped when Richt was hired.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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