Barry Jackson

Why one big part of UM’s expected offensive plan already has been scrapped

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Tuesday:

When Butler’s Tommy Kennedy chose Miami over offers from Texas and Oklahoma earlier this offseason, the expectation was that he would replace graduating Tyree St. Louis as the Hurricanes’ starting left tackle.

After all, Kennedy said he hoped his one year starting at a major program would help prepare him for the NFL.

That’s looking increasingly unlikely to happen.

Sophomore D.J. Scaife said Tuesday that he has been told he will be a left tackle this season after playing right tackle last season. And considering Scaife was UM’s highest-graded offensive lineman last November, you can assume Scaife will start, barring a surprising regression the next few months.

Which means Tommy Kennedy won’t be starting at left tackle. Could he start at another position? Possible. But he hasn’t been with the first team through four days of spring practice. He took some backup center snaps in recent days.

One UM source said the Canes overestimated Kennedy’s talent and that his body needs work, though nobody obviously will say that on the record.

Asked about Kennedy’s progress, coach Manny Diaz said: “What he’s learning is the different tempo of our practice, going up against better players than he’s gone against at any point in his career. And when [offensive line coach Butch Barry] is teaching you these techniques, you better be on point because you need them to go against the guys on our defensive front. The good thing about Tommy is he’s a willing learner.”

Scaife, incidentally, said he played left tackle in high school so he’s comfortable on the left side after playing right tackle last season. He was inserted during the FSU game, with Navaughn Donaldson moving to right guard, and stayed in the lineup ever since.

Now Donaldson has been moved to left guard. “Chemistry is [there] because we played together on the right side,” Scaife said.

Scaife said Kai Leon Herbert and early enrollee Zion Nelson have been the backup left tackles.

John Campbell has been the first-team right tackle.

Asked about the likelihood of adding more offensive line help through the transfer market, Diaz said: “Only if it’s the right guy. It has to be a guy that can improve our team and is better than what we have. We felt like there would be another little bump of transfer activity after spring practice. There will be some more guys that will be available.

“Sometimes, it’s a best available. Sometimes it a special skill set you don’t have or our depth dictates you have to bring guys in. Right now, it would too early to say for sure we have to bring in a guy at this particular position.”

UM has only four scholarship cornerbacks on campus and six total, but Diaz said, “It’s not about having enough bodies. It’s about having enough bodies that can play. That’s why this is a great spring for Al Blades, D.J. Ivey and Nigel Bethel. The neat thing is all of those guys have flashed, done some good things” in competition to start opposite Trajan Bandy.

Running back Cam’Ron Davis said he changed his name to Cam’Ron Harris because “I wanted my dad’s name. I just feel comfortable with Harris.”

Harris said he was “very pleased” with what he put on tape in November and declined to answer directly when asked if he hopes to challenge DeeJay Dallas to start or is content simply competing with Lorenzo Lingard and potentially Robert Burns for the backup job.

Harris arrived at UM last year with 11 percent body fat. Now he’s at 6.8.

Will Mallory, back fully from a November knee injury, said he expects more two tight end sets in Dan Enos’ offense compared to Mark Richt’s offense and that the tight ends will be used at least somewhat differently.

“The whole playbook opens it up for the tight ends,” Mallory said. “We have a great opportunity to take advantage of what they’re giving us. Me and Brevin [Jordan] are ready to go.”

Mallory, incidentally, said tight end Michael Irvin Jr., who missed last season with a knee injury, “is doing a great job. He has transformed his body, a lot more physical and faster athlete than before. We’re going to push each other.”

Dee Wiggins, who played the most of last year’s four freshmen receivers, said Enos’ offense gives Miami “more options” than a year ago.

“We’re still a work in progress, but we have different varieties of offense sometimes in the shotgun, sometimes under center,” he said.

Enos doesn’t let mistakes slide; he either admonishes them or makes them do pushups for mental mistakes. “That’s what we need,” Wiggins said.

Wiggins said he “gained 15 pounds. I still move fast. It helps me a lot [to keep defensive backs from] pushing me out of the way. I can run right through you using my hand.”

Defensive end Gregory Rousseau, back from September ankle surgery, “hasn’t missed a step,” Diaz said. “He’s a very talented young man. Tries to do everything exactly the way he’s coached to do it. With his length, he’s a problem to block. He’s a hard guy to get your hands on.”

Susan Miller Degnan will have a post later updating the situation at quarterback; Dan Enos indicated they have a long way to go in their development and Diaz is in no rush to name a starter.

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