Barry Jackson

How will Canes fix their ailing offense? Mark Richt and offensive coordinator weigh in

Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt oversaw an offense that ranked 96th in the country this season.
Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt oversaw an offense that ranked 96th in the country this season. adiaz@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on the first day of the early signing period:

UM offered a bit of clarity Wednesday on the question lots of Hurricanes fans have been asking: How will Miami fix an ailing offense that ranked 96th in yardage among 130 FBS schools?

And it sounds like there won’t be staff changes or significant scheme changes, though offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said there will be some tweaks in the offense.

I asked Richt what he can share with fans about how he’s going to fix the offense and whether there will be staff changes.

He said: “Right now, we plan on getting better with what we do and continuing to recruit players and playmakers. The better we develop our players, the better they execute [what we do], the better we will be offensively.”

So Richt appears intent on sticking with this group of coaches and not succumbing to pressure from fans to make major changes or hire a play-caller.

Offensive coordinator Thomas Brown then was asked how he could be optimistic about the offense getting better if it’s essentially staying the same.

“I mean, it’s not going to stay the same,” he said. “It’s never been the same year to year. People would say it’s been the same. But if you look at when Brad Kaaya was here, and then year three, it’s a different offense, guys doing different stuff. Even when we were on a 15-game win streak and things were going well, nobody was saying a word about what we’re doing offensively.

“Every single week we look at what we’re doing and try to find ways to become better. [Not] just look at it when everybody says ‘you all suck.’ We are in a really good spot. We are going to bounce back again. Youth and inexperience at times kind of hurts with those struggles. We are going to continue to get better at quarterback with the guys we have and some of the others we’ll bring in. And we’ll be better in the future for sure. I feel good about the guys committed to this program and we’ll get it right.”

Have Brown and Richt ever discussed using the spread as their primary offensive scheme?

Brown didn’t answer directly, saying: “Whatever helps us win. The best thing you do from a coaching standpoint is evaluate the talent you have and put those guys in the best spot to be successful. If that means changing our scheme, we’ll change our scheme to fit what we do from a skill level standpoint and make sure we have the right guys we’re bringing in to buy into this system and help us win.”

Asked again about whether UM might use the spread more next year, Brown said it’s too early to “address that stuff.”

Brown said UM has four more slots on offense — between transfers and prep players — and said “I will put a premium on quarterback. Coach [Richt] mentioned grad transfers, high school guys, even true college quarterbacks who can help us from an immediate impact standpoint and push for playing time. Could be a running back. Definitely a second tight end, a different skill set and body to complement Larry Hodges. Another receiver… and another tackle. You can never have enough tackles.”

If Jarren Williams transfers, UM would be down to two scholarship quarterbacks. Richt and Williams declined to answer Tuesday when asked if Williams would transfer; after practice, Williams spent 20 minutes speaking with quarterbacks coach Jon Richt.

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Co-defensive coordinator Jonathan Patke said UM will add seven or eight more defensive players through recruiting or potentially transfers.

“We need two ends and another tackle — we definitely need two more d-ends,” he said. “We are signing at least one more linebacker. We offered a couple; we knew Anthony Solomon would flip to Michigan. We will take at least another linebacker. In the back end, we will take at least three more DBs. And then a best available [player]. We were going to take a big class on defense this year because of numbers.”

DeeJay Dallas has become the most vocal Hurricane on the topic of players who decommit or transfer. Dallas said Wednesday: “If they don’t want to be here [as a part of] Miami football, we’re not going to beg.”

Dallas, asked about the perception the sky is falling with the UM program: “The sky isn’t falling. Next year is going to be a way better year than this year was. We came into this season with high expectations. It didn’t go how we wanted it to go. We start next season off with Wisconsin [in next Thursday’s bowl game]. I know my coaches and I know my teammates and I trust my coaches and trust my teammates.”

UM remains in the mix for several high-end players who didn’t sign Wednesday, including receiver Jadon Haselwood, defensive backs Kaiir Elam and Akeem Dent and Tyrique Stevenson and defensive end Khris Bogle….

All of UM’s nonbinding commitments signed Wednesday except defensive end Cameron Williams and punter Louis Hedley.

Among non-UM commitments that the Canes woke up Wednesday hoping to land, UM got two (Butler left tackle Tommy Kennedy and Auburn running back Asa Martin) but lost out on at least five: offensive tackle Evan Neal (Alabama), offensive tackle Dontae Lucas (FSU), receiver Jon Dunmore (stuck with Penn State) and four-star Lakeland tight end Keon Zipperer and defensive end Lloyd Summerall (Gators for both).

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