A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Tuesday:
▪ One-third of the way into the regular season, several Hurricanes are well on track to redshirt, including a trio of talented freshmen who could comprise a large part of UM’s defensive interior in 2021.
Under NCAA rules implemented last year, players can redshirt if they play in no more than four games.
Freshmen who have appeared in only one game (according to UM), and appear positioned to redshirt barring injuries, include freshmen defensive tackles Jason Blissett, Jared Harrison Hunte and Jalar Holley.
Coach Manny Diaz has said those three can be a “special” trio, and I would expect them to form a talented UM defensive tackle front in 2021, along with sophomore Nesta Silvera (still out with an injury) and redshirt freshman Jordan Miller.
Keep in mind that defensive tackles Pat Bethel and Chigozie Nnoruka are seniors and Jon Ford is a junior.
Also, freshman receiver Jeremiah Payton has appeared in only two games (per UM) and also could redshirt.
It’s a tougher call with linebacker Sam Brooks, who has appeared in two games, impressed coaches and might be needed if there are injuries to Shaq Quarterman and Mike Pinckney.
After playing the first three games, UM said freshman defensive end Jahfari Harvey didn’t play against Central Michigan. That would leave him in position to redshirt if UM chooses.
Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if Miami redshirts running back Lorenzo Lingard, who appeared in too many games last season (six) before his knee injury to redshirt. Lingard, who has been cleared to play, has not appeared yet in a game. Diaz and offensive coordinator Dan Enos have spoken the past two weeks of potentially using him very soon.
On the redshirt topic, it was notable that senior linebacker Zach McCloud didn’t play at all Saturday, six days after Diaz said he would definitely not redshirt. McCloud has played in three games but has been used for only 21 snaps on defense. Quarterman and Pinckney played all 83 defensive snaps against Central Michigan.
Three older players who have redshirted previously also have played in only one game, per UM: defensive tackle Tyreic Martin and tight ends Brian Polendey and Evidence Njoku.
▪ A case could be made to play quarterback Jarren Williams more out of the shotgun instead of under center.
Per Herald correspondent Daniel Gould, Williams was 6 for 11 for 104 yards — with one intentional grounding — when playing under center Saturday. But one of the completions went for only 2 yards on a first-and-10, and the other went for 6 yards on a third-and-11.
So only four of the 12 plays counted as a success, which Gould measures as gaining 50 percent of yards to go on first down, 70 percent on second down and 100 percent on third and fourth down.
By contrast, Gould said Williams had a 50 percent success rate on shotgun passes, though those averaged slightly fewer yards per pass than the under-center passes.
Gould, who analyzes every play, raises an interesting point: “The under-center stuff is fine. Just do it with two tight ends and three receivers.”
And I would add this: Slow-developing play-action passes under center are unlikely to work as well with this group of offensive linemen as they would with a better group of blockers.
Enos obviously knows all of this but clearly wants to have Williams play under center a good deal of the time.
Also notable: UM ran 15 times on first down against Central Michigan and averaged 2.4 yards per play on those runs. On 15 first-down down passes, the Canes averaged 12 yards per play.
▪ UM lost out on its top 2021 quarterback target Monday when four-star prospect Jake Garcia announced he was committing to Southern California. That’s not a surprise, considering he does not live far from USC’s campus.
The timing was surprising, though, because Garcia had told Canesport earlier in the week that he planned to visit UM for the Oct. 5 Virginia Tech game.
But Class of 2020 Connecticut-based four star quarterback Tyler Van Dyke is considered a solid commitment. Van Dyke is rated the 198th-best player in the 2020 class by Rivals.
▪ UM alternated Gilbert Frierson and Romeo Finley at striker Saturday, with Finley playing 34 snaps and Frierson 28, per Gould.
At safety, UM shared time among Amari Carter (71 snaps), Gurvan Hall (66 snaps) and Robert Knowles (50 snaps).
Though Hall has struggled at times this season, safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator Ephraim Banda is encouraged because “I’m seeing a young guy create good habits,” he told WQAM’s Don Bailey Jr.
“I’m starting to see a consistent player, the urgency he’s playing with and tackling in the open field. The only thing that will stop you is you being casual, and he’s eliminating that.”
▪ I wouldn’t expect any embrace between Hurricanes defensive end Trevon Hill and Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente when UM and the Hokies meet in Miami’s next game Oct. 5. It was Fuente who suspended Hill for nearly all of last season for reasons he declined to release.
“Even though I didn’t like him much, I had respect for him,” Hill said earlier this year. “But I completely lost all my respect for that man.”
Hill, through three games, has six tackles (including two for loss) and a sack.
“He’s starting to figure out our standard,” Banda told Bailey. “He wants to be coached and wants to learn.”
Defensive end Scott Patchan, who committed two penalities against Central Michigan, continues to play more than Hill and Greg Rousseau because he’s considered by coaches to be the best at setting the edge in the run game.
Patchan played 46 snaps against CMU, compared with 37 for Hill and 33 for Greg Rousseau, who already has three sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss despite not starting.
▪ Tate Martell received only one snap against Central Michigan, per Gould, and the Hurricanes clearly realize they need to play their sophomore receivers a lot more than Martell — a reversal from the approach in the opener against UF.
That includes Dee Wiggins (22 snaps on Saturday) and Brian Hightower (16). Mark Pope missed the game with an injury.
If you missed it Monday, here’s our in-depth look at the problem holding back the Hurricanes’ program.