Barry Jackson

UM still trying to figure out a key question. And two players join mix for playing time

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

Even a third of a way into the regular season, coach Manny Diaz admitted this week that there are multiple positions where the coaches aren’t sure who their best players are.

“I know for a fact we don’t know who our best secondary is yet... who’s our best five on the offensive line,” Diaz told Joe Zagacki on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline. “What should the ball distribution be in the wide receiver room. There are some positions we’re trying to find out who our best 11 are.

“The competition never ends. The best competitors get rewarded with the best playing time.”

Diaz also mentioned the challenge of determining how to allocate snaps on the defensive line, which remains perhaps the most difficult decision.

Greg Rousseau, one of UM’s top two pass rushers (with Jon Garvin) continues to play less than Scott Patchan and Trevon Hill, a decision that could be revisited. But UM is smartly playing him inside on some third down packages.

UM must decide how much to use two players who could provide a jolt — running back Lorenzo Lingard and former Southern California safety Bubba Bolden.

Diaz likes the skill set of Bolden, a former four-star recruit who has been reinstated by the NCAA for the Oct. 5 Virginia Tech game.

“He’s a long and athletic guy, can do some really good things from a coverage standpoint with his length,” Diaz said on Hotline. “Very rangy guy. If you are going to play in the secondary in Miami, you have to tackle. He’s learning to tackle our way.”

As for Lingard... Keep in mind that UM ranks just 65th in yards per game and 63rd in points per game — figures that would be a lot worse without the 63-0 win against Bethune Cookman — and Lingard (one of only two five-star recruits on the roster) could provide the big play capability that this offense lacks.

“What we see is a guy getting more and more confident in his leg,” Diaz said. “A guy who only has been cleared for full contact two weeks ago. So it’s hard to put a guy in the game where every play ends with a collision. [Tuesday] he might have gotten the first four straight plays of inside run drills. We want to push him on the field. He will get in on special teams. We need to [determine] the right rotation at running back.”

This is a conundrum for UM, because the Canes like how DeeJay Dallas and Cam’Ron Harris have played. But Lingard might be the most talented in terms of creating explosive plays in the running game, and he deserves a shot.

Diaz insisted that the shoddy offensive line play Saturday is not a true reflection of his group.

“Who they were on Saturday is not who they are,” Diaz said. “We saw them play much better against Bethune and North Carolina. When our guys compete very hard and strain to do it, we move the ball on anybody. When we have a lack of concentration, we don’t move the ball on anyone. That is within our control.”

Diaz is happy with the coaches he hired and indicated some of the offensive line issues cannot simply be fixed with changing schemes.

“We have good enough coaches that if something is happening schematically, we can fix it,” he said. The problem against Central Michigan is “we got into a series of ‘my bads.’ A back hits the wrong hole [or] a quarterback hands it off when he had a guy wide open and called the wrong RPO [run-pass option].

“It was a series of one guy taking turns saying ‘my bad.’ A ‘my bad’ can kill a drive. ... As much as I want progress, [I’m realistic]. We are four years into this [system] defensively. Did we dominate the line of scrimmage? Yes we did.

“Offensively we are new at this thing still [with new offensive coordinator Dan Enos incorporating a new offense this season]. We are counting on a lot of guys in big roles for the first time and what they are learning is every week demands your best. In this game, you’re going to get humbled. We ate a mouthful of humble pie [against CMU]. We managed to win, in large parts to efforts of our defense.

“I thought our guys, especially on the offensive side of the ball, started to lose our competitive spirit. Once you do that, it’s hard to get anything going. From the second quarter, they played a lot harder than we did and that’s completely unacceptable.”

But Diaz makes clear he’s not only holding players accountable.

“I’m not absolving coaches,” he said. “There are a lot of things we could have done better. But this is the reality of playing [young guys].”

And Diaz makes clear he couldn’t be happier with Enos.

“I knew Dan had a very difficult offense to prepare for and he’s a great developer of quarterbacks,” he said. “The level of accountability he has brought to the field in my mind has changed us. Our players respect being held to a very high standard.”

Quick news note: AT&T Uverse added ACC Network, leaving Comcast as the only major South Florida cable or satellite provider without the channel.

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