The one thing that Mark Richt has seemed to do in his short time as head coach of the Miami Hurricanes is stabilize the program. You can tell he has full control. At ACC media days we also had a chance to hear from two players that the program sent down, RB Mark Walton and LB Shaq Quarterman.
From a coaches perspective there is focus and it has trickled down to the players as well. One thing I had brought up about the media not respecting Miami, happened to be the first question asked to Shaq Quarterman on Friday, He was asked if the team takes it personally that not a lot of media came to ask questions to the players. Here’s Quarterman’s response:
Well, honestly I feel for our team when it comes to the media, we don’t really — I’m not going to say we don’t care, but we’re not really bothered by how the media feels or if they respect us enough to come and see us. We’re just here to play ball and compete like we’re supposed to do at Miami.
Perhaps the slights the team feels will be something that motivates them, which would obviously be a good thing.
Quarterman then talks a little about the incoming class:
I would say that you would need to look out for all of them. I think Coach Richt does a great job recruiting. We’ve got a lot of exciting guys coming in, people that are hungry, ready to put in the work, ready to work hard as they’ve been doing in the weight room, and we have those who just arrived who are just getting accustomed to how we do things. But I feel as though when they come into form, when they come into shape, it’s going to be awesome.
Mark Walton is going to play a major role on offense this year, considering he’s by far the most experienced player. With the question mark on the QB competition going into Fall camp, Walton addresses what he is going to expect of himself:
You know, as a leader on the offensive side of the ball, you’ve just got to make sure everybody is on one accord. Just don’t matter who`s going to come out and win the starting job at the quarterback. You just want to let them know that me as a running back, I’m going to make sure I do my job picking up any blitz and making sure I hold my own blocking protection to give him enough time to make the right throws so he can be comfortable back there throwing the ball so he won`t have rush a decision and make a bad play. Just making sure he knows that I’m a trustworthy guy for him.
Walton clearly looking to hold himself accountable as a leader on this team. Obviously from the team leaders standpoint this team is driven to win and win big this season.
As for the media, their line of questioning for the Miami players was very weak. Not trying to bash people, but they did a very lazy job asking the players questions. You ask lazy questions you are going to get quick answers. This goes to speak upon another topic, but it does go back to respect. Maybe the media that covers the ACC is too lazy to even look into the Miami program. Who knows, but not a great job down in Charlotte, at least from the transcripts.
Hurricanes bungled bringing Alonzo Highsmith to program
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:
Alonzo Highsmith told me this morning that the door is now closed about him taking job at UM. Won't happen, he said.
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) January 9, 2020
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.
Will Canes hiring of veteran OC Lashlee save Manny Diaz?
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.
SMU OC Rhett Lashlee is new OC at Miami, sources told @Stadium. Lashlee has been an OC last 9 seasons at Samford (2011), Arkansas State (2012), Auburn (2013-16), UConn (2017) & SMU (2018-19)
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) January 3, 2020
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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