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Miami Hurricanes

Hurricanes coach Diaz dealing with LB injuries already

Abbey Radeka

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Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, teams from the Coastal Division of the ACC took to the media for day two of the “ACC Kickoff.” And, head coach Manny Diaz represented “The U” for the first time at a media day, as the leader of the Canes program.

Right away, he gave an update on the health of some of his players at a key position, as they head into the season with a defense that’s down three linebackers due to injuries.

Sun Sentinel write Christy Chirinos tweeted on Thursday:

Red shirt sophomores Waynmon Steed and Bradley Jennings Jr. seem to be completely sidelined, while redshrit Freshman Pat Joyner Jr. is recovering from a lower leg injury that has him limited. Coincidentally, all three players share the same position, making the LB depth very thin down in Coral Gables.

While this certainly won’t help the Miami defense, the Hurricanes have still got their star LB, Shaq Quarterman, as he enters into his senior season. Quarterman has started in every game since joining the Miami roster and finished last season with a career-best 14 tackles for loss, 6 sacks and 1 interception.

Diaz has also expressed confidence in true Freshman Samuel Brooks. He said in an interview with Chirinos that the former Miami Northwestern LB will provide some solid help to his returners.

He said:

“The guy that we’re really excited about, that is on campus right now, is Sam Brooks. He’s really picking things up really easily … But, obviously, in early days, I would imagine we’ll have a very, very similar posture to what we had a year ago when Shaq [Quarterman] and [Mike] Pinckney and those are guys are already on the field … We’ve got to get Zach on the field and again, I think we have the three best inside linebackers, as good as anybody in the country. I don’t feel badly about that spot, and I feel really good about the future of that spot with what we have and what we’ve been recruiting.”

On a more positive note, Diaz also shared that most of the other players who dealt with injuries earlier this spring, should be ready to go in their season opener against Florida. Among those returning are TE Brevin Jordan, Striker (LB/S hybrid) Zach McCloud and Corey Gaynor at Center.

The Canes will need to be as equipped as possible come August 24th to have a shot at Dan Mullen and his Florida squad, who are projected to have a top 10 ranked season.

There will be no sympathy, if they aren’t.

Abbey is a native Floridan who grew up a fan of all Tampa Bay sports teams. She’s recently graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Media Communication Studies. In her time at FSU, she was an In-Game Host for the Basketball and Baseball teams, and reported for Seminole Sports Magazine, producing feature stories that appeared on Fox Sports Sun. She’s excited to share her perspective on all of Florida’s Football teams, especially the Seminoles.

Miami Hurricanes

Hurricanes bungled bringing Alonzo Highsmith to program

Florida Football Insiders

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Mark Hoffman- USA TODAY Sports

These are definitely trying, and in some cases, embarrassing times for the first season being completed by Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz. And, now comes another indication of dysfunction to the forefront late this week.

This, as former Canes running back great Alonzo Highsmith was apparently all set to join Diaz and the football program in some type of administrative / “Chief of Staff” type-role.

However, Highsmith, AD Blake James and Diaz apparently could not come to an agreement on his role,  responsibilities and probably biggest of all, compensation for it. So, the latest on Thursday is the reunion will not be happening:

Hiring Highsmith to help in such a role is something that is now common over the last few years of college football, to especially relieve some of the day-to-day administrative duties of the head coach and allow him to do more, you know, actual coaching in his program.

Nick Saban has this at Alabama. So, too does Dabo Swinney at Clemson.

And even new USF coach and former Clemson co-offensive coordinator, Jeff Scott will be utilizing his father, Brad (a former FSU offensive coordinator himself) in the same role with the Bulls.

As for Highsmith, he is certainly qualified after having played on Howard Schellenberger’s 1983 title team and then for Jimmy Johnson for two years after. He ran for nearly 2,000 yards and 25 TDS in his career and was put in the Canes Hall of Fame in 1997.

Highsmith played six years in the NFL and after having worked for the Green Bay Packers for almost two decades (above) moving up in their front office, he came to the Cleveland Browns as their Vice President of Football Operations this past year.

However, when Cleveland jettisoned GM John Dorsey earlier this month, that paved the way for Highsmith to potentially come to Miami in a similar role that could help Diaz and the football program try to regain its footing.

Miami ended the regular season horribly, with humiliating losses to FIU and Duke and then, was embarrassingly beaten in a 14 – 0 Independence Bowl loss to Louisiana Tech.

Diaz fired offensive coordinator Dan Enos after just his first season in Coral Gables, and has hired former Auburn and SMU offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee to replace him.

So now, the fact that Highsmith, who has lots of experience with running football operations and obviously a love for the school where he helped win a National Championship, is now not coming, is another bad sign for Diaz at least in the short-term.

Then again, Diaz may have someone else in mind for the role and we may see that announcement soon, but we at F.F.I wouldn’t advise that you hold your breath on that one.

Instead, it’s the latest in a series of missteps around Hurricanes football at a program has spiraled downward over the course of the last 10 – 15 years.

This includes Miami having lost 9 of its last 10 bowl games and no longer being relevant on the national stage year-in and year-out.

Highsmith represented a link to Miami’s great past of the 1980s and not being able to work out for him to help has to discourage those who care the most about the Canes trying to get back.

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Miami Hurricanes

Will Canes hiring of veteran OC Lashlee save Manny Diaz?

Matt Zemek

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hanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Manny Diaz did not seem prepared for his first season as a college football head coach at Miami. The Hurricanes were often disorganized, and Diaz’s gameday decisions were often misguided. The Hurricanes lost to FIU, Duke, and Louisiana Tech to close their season. Their offense scored 52 points against Louisville, and did very little else in 2019.

And, obviously, Dan Enos was a bust as offensive coordinator.

Diaz had to make changes to such an unacceptable situation. He has reportedly chosen SMU offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee as his new offensive coordinator.

The move might not work out – no move is guaranteed to bring supreme success; just ask Michigan about Jim Harbaugh or Texas about Tom Herman – but on paper, it looks like a decision which can revitalize Miami’s offense and give the Canes what they have lacked since Ken Dorsey: a reliably dynamic offense.

Yes, recruiting a strong offensive line has to complement what Lashlee brings to the table. Yes, Miami and Diaz have to put together a roster which can carry ideas from the realm of theory into applied practice. A good offensive system doesn’t mean anything unless the players can put it into action. Lashlee’s arrival guarantees nothing. We can all acknowledge that.

However, if one was to look at the offensive coordinator market and identify the various options Manny Diaz was considering, Lashlee is certainly better than most. He spent multiple seasons under Gus Malzahn at Auburn and was by Malzahn’s side when the Tigers reached the 2014 BCS National Championship Game.

The Tigers used RPO (run-pass option) concepts and a diversified running game which attacked defenses with a combination of tempo and varied angles to bedevil SEC defenses. Auburn won that season’s SEC Championship Game over Missouri by scoring 59 points.

That was Lashlee’s best-ever season.

This past year was his second-best season.

Lashlee helped Sonny Dykes guide the SMU Mustangs to a very rare and exhilarating 10-win season, a rapid climb few people in the college football punditocracy anticipated. Lashlee worked beautifully with Texas transfer Shane Buechele to maximize the potential of the SMU offense, which carried the Ponies throughout the season. When SMU lost, it was usually because the defense folded like a house of cards. The SMU offense did very few things wrong in 2019.

This is the man Miami is reported to have named as its next offensive coordinator.

Nothing is guaranteed in life, but if you were to make a quick “good or bad” call on this move, I’d certainly give it a thumbs-up. Only time will tell if Manny Diaz saved his hide and gave Miami a real chance to make a U turn on offense.

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