Barry Jackson

Two network analysts, including former UM star, raise questions about Canes’ strategy

A six-pack of University of Miami Hurricanes notes on a Monday:

Former UM linebacker Jon Beason emerged from Saturday’s game wondering why offensive coordinator Dan Enos didn’t make more adjustments in the second half.

And ESPN NFL analyst Tim Hasselbeck, now also working as a college football analyst for ESPN-operated ACC Network, emerged wondering if UM will open up the playbook more for Jarren Williams against lesser competition (presumably so).

Both Beason (who donated $250,000 to UM’s indoor practice facility in 2017) and Hasselbeck spoke at length about UM in an ACC Network conference call on Monday.

“[UF coach] Dan Mullen, Dan Enos, are guys that are highly regarded in terms of calling plays, and I didn’t see that, especially in the second half,” Beason said. “I think that after the coordinators kind of got past their scripted plays that the defenses were able to kind of settle in and neutralize it and I didn’t see the adjustment offensively to what Florida did.

“Now Florida’s a team that plays a lot of man coverage, they allow their defensive line to get after it and [defensive coordinator Todd] Grantham did a great job of adjusting saying, ‘Hey, look, I’m being pressured with three guys. I’m going to sit back and play zone, which we don’t do,’ and they still got pressure on the quarterback. So, you get beat up in the third quarter, Florida scoring 10 points, Miami scoring none.”

Meanwhile, Hasselbeck said: “If Miami is really going to go where they want to go, you have to be able to call passing concepts where the quarterback is really making the decision. It can’t always be a version of a tunnel screen or a bubble or a tight end screen or things that are that simple and generic.

“In terms of my thoughts on Williams and how he played, what I would say is it was certainly up and down. Part of it was pressure. I thought there were times that he was the problem for pressure in terms of holding onto the ball. Actually, thought that they were really trying to manage him. You look at the stats and completion percentage, a big part of that is there were so many just kind of gimmie throws, throws at the line of scrimmage, wide receiver screens or tight end screens, flare screens to the flat. I thought they were trying to make it easy for him, which you would anticipate in a young quarterback’s first start.

“So I think because of that, I left kind of watching the game feeling like I would love to ask Manny Diaz if he felt like Jarren Williams gave them the best chance to win week one or if Jarren Williams was the quarterback that he thought would have the team being the best they could be later in the year and obviously going forward.”

Hasselbeck added: “I think there was plenty of good things. There were times where he looked confused, to be quite honest with you. But it was a roller coaster. I would expect him to get better. There’s a sack in that football game where they, it’s basically a play action pass protection that they called and the running back doesn’t help the tackle. He goes, the left tackle, he’s going to help.

“But then he just, he runs right by him and he doesn’t help him and the tackle clearly, the way he passed that, was looking for help. And so, there are things that can really, really get cleaned up offensively in terms of protection. When that happens you hopefully are seeing a quarterback that is a little less frantic in some of those passing concepts where it’s not dictated prior to the ball being snapped where you’re going with the football,which so many of those throws I thought were in that game.”

Still, Beason believes UM’s future is bright.

“I think the schedule says that they should be favored in every game,” Beason said. “There’s nobody ranked, which is why the Florida game was so important. But they should know that they’re good enough and settle in, continue to take coaching, and eventually they should be a very good football team, a team that can make some noise in the ACC.”

Here were the players given the five best grades by College Football Focus: 1) Defensive end Scott Patchan, who had three pressures and recovered a fumble; 2) Running back DeeJay Dallas. Forced six missed tackles in running for 95 yards and avoided four tackles in catching four passes for 37 yards. 3) Defensive end Jon Garvin. Three QB pressures. 4) Defensive tackle Jon Ford. Two QB pressures and strong against the run. 5) Safety Amari Carter. Picked off a pass and allowed only one completion.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. ranks UM’s Shaquille Quarterman as the No. 1 senior inside linebacker prospect in the country in his preseason rankings. But Quarterman has a lot to prove to go in the first two rounds; he was considered a mid-round pick by some analysts if he had turned pro after last season.

Kiper has guard Navaughn Donaldson the fifth-rated guard among underclassmen and Garvin the No. 5 defensive end among underclassmen.

UM has at least five underclassmen who will face NFL decisions after this season: cornerback Trajan Bandy (a potential third-round pick), receiver Jeff Thomas, Donaldson, Garvin and Dallas (whose stock will be helped by more games like Saturday’s).

Belen High’s Don Chaney Jr., UM’s elite Class of 2020 running back commitment, said Hurricanes coaches have compared him to Willis McGahee.

Chaney’s former coach, Rich Stuart, has compared his running skills to Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley’s, and Chaney said he watches tape of Gurley every other day.

“When I first heard about him, I watched his Georgia film,” Chaney told me. “I said this guys is crazy. I said I want to play just like him. So I started studying him.”

ESPN’s UM-UF cablecast averaged nearly six million viewers, peaking at 7.4 million viewers. It’s the network’s second-most watched Saturday college football game in three years.

Miami-Fort Lauderdale’s 10.0 rating for the game was solid but ranked just 7th among 56-plus major markets, behind Birmingham, Alabama, Jacksonville, West Palm, Tampa-St. Pete, Fort Myers and curiously, Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina.

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