Latest News The biggest positional concern with Canes roster. And why the impactful Mesidor picked UM

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

Past some tackling issues by your entire protection (seven extra on Saturday in opposition to Bethune-Cookman), the most important concern with UM’s undersized group of linebackers — led by Corey Flagg Jr. (5-11, 230 kilos), Waymon Steed (6-0, 225) and Keontra Smith (5-11, 205) — is being bodily pounded by a superior dashing assault.

However this group of linebackers’ work in go protection additionally stays a priority.

Smith, who theoretically must be the very best of the group in protection due to his pace and ability set, was unable to make a play on a 34-yard passing play in opposition to Bethune-Cookman, although defensive coordinator Kevin Steele made clear Monday that Smith wasn’t responsible on that play.

Final season, Smith allowed a 103.2 passer ranking, with 10 completions in 15 targets for 84 yards and a TD, plus three penalties.

You don’t essentially need Flagg attempting to cowl massive tight ends or working backs, both. Final season, Flagg permitted a bloated 130 passer ranking in protection, permitting 18 completions in 23 makes an attempt for 231 yards and three TDs, plus one interception.

In Flagg’s protection, he graded out in addition to any UM entrance seven participant on Saturday apart from Akheem Mesidor and he continues to maximizes his abilities. He’s typically very productive, and his stage of preparation is admirable. The priority with Flagg is go protection and whether or not he can maintain up in opposition to excellent, bodily groups (Texas A&M, for instance).

Manny Diaz’s workers didn’t put Steed in protection a lot, realizing that was a shortcoming.

“There was looseness in our protection,” defensive coordinator Kevin Steele stated. “We’ve to get linebackers extra snug by way of their drops.”

Te’Cory Sofa and Gilbert Frierson are taking part in the star place in Kevin Steele’s protection, which is extra of a defensive again function than linebacker function.

Frierson — rated by PFF as Miami’s prime defender in opposition to Bethune-Cookman — had an interception return for a TD on Saturday, a yr after he allowed 23 completions in 27 targets however for less than 153 yards. Sofa have to be higher than a yr in the past, when he allowed 412 yards in his protection space (most on the workforce) and a 104.6 passer ranking.

Coach Mario Cristobal acknowledged that his linebackers (and cornerbacks) should do a greater job in protection.

“They discovered some delicate spots in our protection,” he stated. “We have been closing on stuff extra shortly.”

So what might change within the linebacker room? Maybe Caleb Johnson (6-1, 235) finally overtakes Flagg; UM desires their snaps to be comparable and considers them co-starters, at the least publicly. However this workers has watched them for months and Flagg stays atop the depth chart.

It should assist if security James Williams continues to play a linebacker function on some snaps, as he did in opposition to Bethune-Cookman.

Maybe extra taking part in time will likely be created for second-year 6-2, 210-pound linebacker Chase Smith (who was excellent in protection on solely eight targets final season) or freshman Wesley Bissainthe (6-1, 205).

“Actually enthusiastic about Wesley, displaying why we went after him in recruiting,” Cristobal stated. “He’s getting it, choosing it up quick. We’re racing to get him as prepared as attainable. The onus is [on the staff] to get him extra taking part in time.”

Cristobal stated Chase Smith’s sterling work on particular groups has earned him extra snaps on protection. Smith stated he’s taking part in SAM linebacker and needs to grow to be extra bodily. He believes his power is in opposition to the run.

Right here’s how UM allotted linebacker snaps in opposition to Bethune-Cookman, albeit in a blowout, per Professional Soccer Focus: Flagg 34, Steed 30, Keontra Smith 17, Johnson 16, Bissainthe 9, Chase Smith 2.

Bethune-Cookman had good points of 28, 34, 44 and 48 yards. Cornerback Tyrique Stevenson relinquished a kind of massive performs in protection.

Backside line: There aren’t a ton of issues on the UM roster, however the linebacker group — each in protection general and in opposition to the run in opposition to bodily, bruising backs and offensive traces — stays certainly one of them. A minimum of there’s hope there, with Bissainthe and Chase Smith growing and Flagg and Steed ok in opposition to some (however definitely not all) UM opponents.

In opposition to pass-heavy groups, UM may need to play just one pure linebacker at occasions, and its prime three safeties collectively extra.

There was no extra helpful Canes switch than Mesidor, who had 4 sacks, a sack and a deflection (resulting in Gilbert Frierson’s decide six) in simply 19 snaps. It’s the second time in three years that UM has landed a participant who appears to be genuinely impactful entrance seven switch within the portal (together with Jaelan Phillips).

Mesidor picked UM over Penn State when he determined to depart West Virginia.

“What gave Miami the sting,” Mesidor stated, “was having an important workers to develop me into the participant I can grow to be — Jason Taylor.. [Rod] Wright…, Coach Joe [Salave’a]. And in addition the vitality on the sphere throughout observe and a household environment. And coach Cristobal speaking to my household. My mother actually cherished him.”

Mesidor stated he didn’t watch a lot soccer rising up and didn’t research it till he enrolled in faculty.

UM is taking part in him primarily at defensive finish however shifting him to defensive deal with on third-and-long and clear passing conditions. West Virginia used him at defensive finish as a freshman and deal with final yr as a sophomore.

“I really like being on the surface and in addition love being within the inside. They’re placing me in the very best scenario to reach this protection.” Enjoying deal with “is the place I’m only on passing downs.”

A couple of notable snap selections from Saturday on offense: At tight finish, snaps between Will Mallory (25) and Elijah Arroyo (22) have been comparable, with Kahlil Brantley (13), Jaleel Skinner (13) and Dominic Mammarelli (11) taking part in comparable quantities…

Colbie Younger (13 snaps) performed the least of the seven out there scholarship receivers. All people else performed between 23 and 32 snaps…

A couple of different snap selections from Saturday on protection: As anticipated, UM went with a six-defensive deal with rotation, with snap counts comparable. Allan Haye and Ahmad Moten are the seventh and eighth tackes….

Of the 2 touted freshman defensive ends, Nyjalik Kelly (13 snaps) logged extra defensive snaps than Cyrus Moss (4)….

After Stevenson (37), DJ Ivey (37) and Sofa (31), there was an enormous drop-off in cornerback snaps to the following three: Daryl Porter (18), Isaiah Dunson (13) and Malik Curtis (8).

Avantae Williams logged solely 14 snaps, fourth most amongst safeties behind James Williams (40), Kamren Kinchens (40) and Al Blades Jr. (22). Frierson performed 23 in his star function. Brian Balom, who missed final season on account of damage, returned and performed six snaps.

Fast stuff: Tyler Van Dyke, who rooms with prime receiver Xavier Restrepo, stated they used to throw the ball round late at night time by their advanced. Now “it’s doing all the things collectively that builds the chemistry. He’s good at all the things he does. He all the time finds these holes, these home windows [in the defense] and it’s actually useful”….

Jalen Rivers was named ACC offensive lineman of the week… Chris Cotter and Mark Herzlich name UM-Southern Mississippi at midday on Saturday on ACC Community.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has Van Dyke as his No. 3 QB prospect on his preseason draft board, behind Alabama’s Bryce Younger and Ohio State’s CJ Stroud. ESPN’s Todd McShay has him fourth, behind Stroud, Younger and Kentucky’s Will Levis. UF’s Anthony Richardson is also included in each of their prime 5.

Kiper has Mallory as his No. 5 tight finish. McShay has Stevenson as his No. 4 cornerback. ESPN’s Matt Miller has Zion Nelson as his No. 3 offensive deal with.

Barry Jackson has written for the Miami Herald since 1986 and has written the Florida Sports activities Buzz column since 2002.

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