Plenty of surprise standouts at spring game
The Miami Hurricanes’ 15-practice spring slate has concluded with the completion of Saturday’s spring game at Hard Rock Stadium.
There was an abundance of surprise standouts — as well as expected ones — in the intrasquad scrimmage that coach Manny Diaz described as “vanilla” with the team’s offensive play calls and defensive coverages.
Here are 10 things we learned from UM’s spring game:
Garcia, Van Dyke both viable options
One of the critical tasks Miami needed to get done this spring was to make sure at least one of the young quarterbacks was prepared to be D’Eriq King’s backup come fall.
Both Jake Garcia and Tyler Van Dyke appeared to fit the bill with efficient passing performances without throwing an interception. Garcia made more impressive downfield throws, but Van Dyke managed the offense well. Garcia took four sacks.
Diaz declined to indicate if he had one in front of the other after the scrimmage, saying that competition will continue through the summer and into fall camp.
Transfers making immediate impact
Oklahoma transfer Charleston Rambo led all pass catchers with seven receptions, going for 74 yards on those. He displayed fine route-running, showing he’s not just a one-trick pony deep threat.
Defensive end and Tennessee transfer Deandre Johnson had a sack for a safety and two and a half tackles for loss, getting off the line of scrimmage with burst on the snap. Cornerback Tyrique Stevenson had a pair of pass breakups and tight coverage on several other instances. King still on track
As Diaz has previously said King was “smashing every benchmark” in his rehab from the torn ACL in his right knee suffered in the Cheez-It Bowl loss to Oklahoma State on Dec. 29, King told reporters on Saturday he remains on track to be fully healthy for the start of training camp.
King is back to running and has
been throwing from a stationary position. He expects to get back to “full go” at some point during summer workouts, eventually doing 7-on-7 work before August.
Smith, Restrepo surging to end spring
The two second-year receivers are making a strong case for a significant uptick in playing time.
Keyshawn Smith, who started alongside Rambo and Michael Harley, caught two touchdowns, although one was late in single coverage against a walk-on cornerback. Xavier Restrepo had four receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown that was the result of an impressive toe tap in the end zone on a corner route. He also came through on a fourth-and-12 over the middle late in the first half.
Also, walk-on Dante Johnson impressed with five receptions for 58 yards.
Drops from Pope, Wiggins still a frustrating issue
I will preface this by saying Mark Pope rebounded on Saturday after his drop, finishing with six receptions and a team-leading 115 receiving yards. It could have been a lot more, though, if not for an inexcusable drop when he was left completely alone down the sideline with Van Dyke hitting him perfectly in stride.
Dee Wiggins appeared to haul in a Garcia deep ball over the middle before the combination of cornerback DJ Ivey ripping it out and Wiggins going to the ground dislodged the ball from his grasp. He had a 54-yard catch on the scrimmage’s final play against backups.
Defense stopping the run, rushing the passer
It wasn’t a very physical scrimmage as the first and second offensive units didn’t pound the defense much with the run, but Diaz said he’s been pleased with the way his defense has been playing the
run in the spring — something that needed fixing after that poor performance in the regular-season finale against North Carolina.
It’s what Diaz wants to see to put opposing offenses in difficult passing downs to set up the pass rush. In addition to Johnson, Gilbert Frierson, Elijah Roberts and Jalar Holley had sacks. Knighton out in front
Like the backup quarterback competition, the starting running back job won’t be determined until training camp, but second-year back Jaylan Knighton appears to be ahead of returning starter Cam’Ron Harris while Donald Chaney Jr. is out until around the start of the season.
Knighton got the nod to start with the first-team offense on Saturday. He also had the swift 27-yard touchdown run as part of his 43 yards on seven carries. Young safeties’ stock rising Freshman early enrollee
Kamren Kinchens had an interception late playing center field when reserve quarterback Peyton Matocha threw into traffic over the middle. He also had six tackles, which was tied for the team lead.
Second-year safety Avantae Williams, who is in his first college action as he was only medically cleared shortly ahead of spring football, started at one safety spot with Bubba Bolden out and was in on five tackles while deflecting a pair of passes.
Keshawn Washington forced a fumble that cornerback Isaiah Dunson recovered.
With Keontra Smith trying out some weakside linebacker this spring as Amari Carter tests the waters in the box more at striker, Smith was active and in on several tackles. Freshman striker Chase Smith also had six tackles and a pass breakup.
Another Borregales is automatic
Another year, another Borregales. And this one, again, was automatic for Miami.
Andres Borregales, the younger brother of Lou Groza Award-winning kicker and draft prospect Jose Borregales, was 3 for 3 booting field goals of 43, 21 and 32 yards while also converting all his extra points. He showed an impressive leg with kickoffs going for touchbacks, as well.
More injuries heading into summer
Sixteen players were already known to be out heading into the spring game — 15 to injury and tight end Larry Hodges because of a violation of team rules.
At the scrimmage, right tackle Jarrid Williams, who was not among the 16, was not seen. Then, cornerback DJ Ivey, wide receiver Michael Redding III and defensive end Cameron Williams left the spring game due to injury.
The original 15 Diaz noted as out ahead of the scrimmage: King, Bolden, Chaney, tight end Will Mallory, defensive tackle Nesta Silvera, cornerbacks Te’Cory Couch, Al Blades Jr. and Marcus Clarke, linebacker Sam Brooks, safety Brian Balom, receiver Jeremiah Payton, tight ends Elijah Arroyo and Dominic Mammarelli and linemen Cleveland Reed and Michael McLaughlin.