Barry Jackson

The eyebrow-raising impact of Martell move, UM’s interesting allocation of playing time

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

If UM’s trio of talented sophomore receivers — Mark Pope, Brian Hightower and Dee Wiggins — were given truth serum, I wonder what they would think about a guy who had played wide receiver for a week (Tate Martell) easily surpassing their combined playing time against Florida.

Among the snap count numbers tabulated by Miami Herald correspondent Daniel Gould, this was the most interesting: Martell — a quarterback until a week ago — played 15 offensive snaps, while Hightower played four, Pope two and Wiggins none on offense. Freshman Jeremiah Payton also didn’t play, nor did Evidence Njoku, who is an afterthought at this point. Among those receivers, only Pope was targeted all night (one catch for four yards).

In fairness, two of Martell’s snaps came at quarterback, in a Wildcat type role, and Martell going in motion was clearly a factor in DeeJay Dallas’ 50-yard TD run.

The bigger question — which absolutely cannot be answered yet — is whether Martell is worthy of more snaps than the three players who formed one of UM’s best receiver class a year ago.

Among the team’s top three receivers, KJ Osborn played all 71 offensive snaps, Jeff Thomas 54 and Mike Harley 46.

Why was there such a short rotation?

“Just the way that Jeff and Mike and KJ have kind of separated themselves from the other guys [is the reason],” Manny Diaz said. “It’s a game where, and also the snap count — we had the ball the last seven minutes of the game which is crunch time. It was a game where we only had 10 offensive possessions, a little unique in that. Just on the field where everything mattered so the bench is a little shorter than it would normally be. But going forward we expect to rotate more guys and will probably do so on” Sept. 7 against North Carolina.

Coaches raved all offseason about running back Robert Burns and tight end Michael Irvin Jr., but neither played an offensive snap against UF. Nor did running back Lorenzo Lingard, who was in uniform Saturday but still working his way back from last year’s major knee injury.

Among running backs, DeeJay Dallas played 56 of the 71 offensive snaps, Cam’Ron Harris 15 and fullback Realus George five, with UM limiting use of the I-formation with a fullback.

At tight end, Brevin Jordan played 62 snaps and Will Mallory 25.

Defensively, UM had only 56 snaps and that limited the use of UM’s high-quality third and fourth ends — Trevon Hill and Greg Rousseau — who each played 14 snaps. Defensive end starters Jon Garvin and Scott Patchan played 49 and 42 snaps, respectively.

At defensive tackle, Jon Ford played 45 snaps, Pat Bethel 36, Chigozie Nnoruka 11 and Jordan Miller four.

The linebackers were effective in the run game but struggled in pass coverage.

Per Gould, Shaq Quarterman allowed three of three passes thrown against him to be caught for 28 yards, Mike Pinckney 2 for 2 for 16 yards and Zach McCloud 1 for 1 for 18 yards.

Quarterman played all 56 defensive snaps and Pinckney 47, but McCloud logged only nine, with UM giving more work to strikers Romeo Finley (35) and Gilbert Frierson (12).

Among cornerbacks, Al Blades Jr. played all 56 snaps, Trajan Bandy 53 and freshman Te’Cory Couch 12. At safety, Amari Carter played 54, Gurvan Hall 51 and Robert Knowles 16.

Bandy and Blades were excellent in coverage, Bandy allowing one catch in five targets for 13 yards and Blades allowing no catches with one target (plus a questionable pass interference). Finley had one interception and the other pass thrown against him was caught for only two yards.

Of Williams’ 30 passes (of which 19 were completed), 10 were thrown at or behind the line of scrimmage, and all 10 were caught, for 108 yards.

Only one of the 30 passes thrown by Williams traveled more than 20 yards in the air, and that was incomplete. He was 5 for 8 for 88 yards and a touchdown on passes thrown between 11 and 20 yards.

Here’s the question: Will the offensive line improve enough to give Williams more time to throw downfield against formidable defensive fronts?

Jordan was targeted seven times, with five completions for 88 yards. and a drop. Thomas was targeted five times, with three catches for 44 yards and a drop. Osborn was targeted four times, with four catches for 41 yards. All three passes thrown to Mallory were incomplete.

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