2007 Miami Preview - Offense

Posted Apr 28, 2007

Preview 2007 Miami Hurricanes Offense Preview

Miami Hurricanes

Preview 2007 - Offense

- 2007 Miami Preview | 2007 Miami Defense Preview
2007 Miami Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Miami Preview 

What you need to know:
After a miserably inconsistent year finishing 87th in the nation in both total and scoring offense, the attack needs to play up to its talent level. The backfield will be amazing with Javarris James and true freshman Graig Cooper each good enough star for just about anyone in the country. The line has potential with two good tackles in Jason Fox and Reggie Youngblood to work around, and now the passing game has to be far better. The Kyle Wright vs. Kirby Freeman quarterback battle will be an ongoing debate, and the receiving corps has to step up and be better. Lance Leggett emerging as a true number one target would be a start.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Kyle Wright
152-250, 1,655 yds, 8 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Javarris James
175 carries, 802 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Lance Leggett
38 catches, 564 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore RB Javarris James
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior QB Kyle Wright or junior QB Kirby Freeman
Unsung star on the rise: Freshman RB Graig Cooper
Best pro prospect: James
Top three all-star candidates: 1) James, 2) RB Cooper, 3) OT Jason Fox
Strength of the offense: Running back
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line


Projected Starter: The starting job is still up in the air, but on sheer talent, 6-4, 220-pound senior Kyle Wright has the most potential to turn things around. A major disappointment, for a variety of reasons, since he was heralded as the next big-time Hurricane passer, he's thrown 26 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions in his inconsistent career. To be fair, he hasn't had a ton of time to work, and the receivers have hardly been up to Miami snuff. He has the arm, he has the mobility in the pocket, and he has the skills, but now he has to actually prove he's a number one quarterback, and then he has to stay healthy.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-3, 215-pound Kirby Freeman is neck-and-neck with Wright for the starting job after closing out the year relatively well with a bowl win over Nevada. While he's not quite the overall package of passing skills that Wright is, the junior is much faster and far more mobile, even though he's not used all that much as just a runner. He has to be more consistent and has to get his completion percentage up to take the starting job by the horns.

The number three, at the moment, is walk-on Matt Perrelli, a 6-3, 232-pound junior who'll mostly serve as the holder on kicks. He'll likely see a little bit of mop-up duty.

On the way is super-recruit, Robert Marve, who set all sorts of Florida high school passing marks last season throwing for 4,380 yards and 48 touchdown passes. While he isn't all that big at 6-1 and 190 pounds, and he's not necessarily a runner even with his good speed, he can throw ... next year. He got hurt in a car accident and will likely redshirt.
Watch Out For ... the quarterback situation to be this year's topic of conversation. Last year, it was all about whether or not Larry Coker should go. Now the weekly soap opera will be Wright/Freeman, Freeman/Wright.
Strength: The two veterans. While they haven't been all that productive, Wright and Freeman have been around forever. They've seen it all, and done almost everything. Everything but win on a consistent basis.
Weakness: A starting quarterback. Even if the coaching staff comes out and definitively says that either Freeman or Wright is the starter, anything short of an injury or a transfer by the backup will mean a season of second-guessing.
Outlook: Neither quarterback stood out in spring ball and neither appears capable of cranking up the offense to another level without significant help, but Wright and Freeman are talented and could be far better under new offensive coordinator, Patrick Nix. Expect plenty of debate about the situation long into the season.
Rating: 7.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: The team got a major scare in the spring game when top tailback, sophomore Javarris James, went down with a knee injury. It appears to be a sprain, to go along with a dinged up ankle, and he's expected to be back at 100% by the fall. The cousin of Edgerrin James ripped off 802 yards and four touchdowns showing a tremendous blend of inside power and quickness to get to the outside. He can even catch the ball a little bit with 17 grabs for 200 yards and a touchdown. Now he has to get healthy and turn the production around after a mediocre last half of the season.

Looking to pave the way will be 6-1, 266-pound sophomore, Jerrell Mabry, who can do a little bit of everything. While he'll mainly be a blocker, and he didn't get any carries last season, he has good quickness and could develop into the type of runner who gets the ball three-to-five times a game.

Projected Top Reserves: While James is the starter, all the spring ball buzz centered around star recruit Graig Cooper, a 6-0, 195-pound bolt of lightning who could become Miami's version of Reggie Bush if he can turn into more of a receiver. He was a bit banged up in his senior year at Milford Prep, so his ability to hold up as a workhorse might be a bit of a concern, but he's way too good not to get the ball in his hands at least ten times a game.

The third man in the mix will be longtime contributor Charlie Jones, a tough-running senior who began 2006 as the starter before giving way to James. While he's not a special back, he's a dependable veteran who can carry the workload if needed and do a little bit of everything as a blocker, runner or receiver.
Watch Out For ... Cooper to be college football's next big thing. He has the talent to come up with highlight reel plays, and he should be fresh throughout with a future NFLer in James carrying most of the load.
Strength: Talent. No offense to Charlie Jones, but Miami is back to being a running back factory again with James and Cooper at the helm. These two are special.
Weakness: Health could potentially be an issue, but that's nitpicking. James is already hurt, while Cooper missed a few games last year with a hamstring problem.
Outlook: The 1-2 punch of James and Cooper could be devastating in a rotation. While the idea early on will likely be to get James into a groove, Cooper will have games when he takes over and dominates. Bringing in a veteran like Jones off the bench is a luxury.
Rating: 9


Projected Starters: Senior Lance Leggett has the talent to be a dangerous NFL target, but now he has to prove he can be a steady gamebreaker after catching 70 passes for 1,137 yards (16.2-yard average) and ten touchdowns. He can hit the home run from anywhere on the field with his track star speed, and at 6-3 and 188 pounds, he has the size to pose major matchup problems, but he only had one 100-yard game last season and only made six grabs over the final five games. There's no excuse for him not to do far more.

Joining Leggett will be 5-10, 190-pound senior, Darnell Jenkins. More of an inside possession receiver with excellent quickness, he started off the year well catching 13 passes for 183 yards in three games before suffering a knee injury against Louisville. He has the talent to play on the outside and be a key kick returner, but he has to come back healthy.

Tight end will be a bit of an issue after losing now-Chicago Bear, Greg Olsen, and junior DajLeon Farr will be the first to give it a try. He has the most talent of the tight end prospects with 6-5, 248-pound size and great blocking skills, but he doesn't have the best hands. While he only caught three passes last year, he's shown flashes in practice of becoming a major weapon.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Sam Shields stepped in as a true freshman and started in seven games making 37 catches for 501 yards and four touchdowns. It took all year to get his first 100-yard day, with four grabs for 101 yards and a 78-yard touchdown against Nevada, but he finished second on the team in receiving yards. He should be bigger playmaker throughout the year with excellent quickness and good route-running ability.

Sophomore Ryan Hill moved over from the defensive side early last season and made eight catches for 77 yards. He has the speed to get deep, but he's still learning the ins and outs of becoming a regular target; consistency will be the issue early on.

As far as pure speed, junior Khalil Jones has it as a sprinter on the UM track team. He has the wheels, he has the 6-2, 218-pound size, and now he has to become a true football player and be a regular contributor after making seven catches for 81 yards in two years.

Pushing Farr for the vacant starting tight end job will be junior Chris Zellner, a high-motor player who'll do whatever it takes to make a play. At 6-2 and 238 pounds, he's more like a fullback playing tight end, but the former defensive end can block and catch equally well.
Watch Out For ... the receiving corps to be an issue. While there's the normal speed you'd expect out of a group of Miami receivers, there's nothing special about them if Leggett doesn't blossom into a star.
Strength: Speed. Leggett can move, Jenkins can fly, and the backups, especially Jones, can really run. The passing game has to stretch the field on a far more consistent basis.
Weakness: Star power. Leggett is close, but he hasn't been able to put it all together yet and become the type of number one target who keeps defensive coordinators awake at night.
Outlook: Put it this way; Greg Olsen ran like a defensive back at the Combine and was the first tight end taken in the draft, yet he only made 40 catches (which led the team) for 489 yards and a touchdown. Basically, the passing game wasn't dangerous last year, and it hasn't shown any signs of being special in the off-season. Leggett and Jenkins are good, serviceable deep threats, but unless they break out, and unless true sophomores Shields and Hill have big years, this will be nothing more than an average corps.
Rating: 7

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: Leading the way for an improved line will be sophomore Jason Fox, who instantly upgraded the line with a great freshman year before dislocating his elbow. He's 6-6, 285-pounds, and extremely athletic. One of the team's top pass blockers, he'll move from the right side to the left, where there was a revolving door of starters last year.

Moving from the left side to the right will by 6-5, 305-pound junior, Reggie Youngblood, who has as much talent as anyone on the line, but wasn't able to progress last season with knee and ankle problems limiting him to just seven starts. It's all there to become an NFL starter if he can put it all together and stay healthy.

6-4, 326-pound senior Derrick Morse saw time at center throughout spring ball, but will likely move back to right guard, where he started almost every game last year. While he's not a special blocker and isn't going to get on the move, he'll push some people around with his strength and good motor.

On the left side will be once against be 6-3, 330-pound senior, Andrew Bain, who had a great year as a run blocker. Athletic for his size, he could move to tackle if needed despite being a natural guard.

294-pound sophomore A.J. Trump will likely take over for Anthony Wollschlager in the middle if he doesn't see time at guard. He's fast and athletic, but he's coming off a torn ACL suffered halfway through last season.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-5, 340-pound Chris Barney is a massive prospect at either tackle spot, even though he's build like a dream guard. The sophomore saw a little time getting a start at right tackle late in the season, and will be a key backup all across the line.

6-5, 295-pound junior Tyrone Byrd is a tackle playing guard. Able to play anywhere up front, he'll move around where needed after starting out the year at guard.
Watch Out For ... Fox and Youngblood to grow into one of the ACC's better tackle pairs. Fox has all the potential to be another Miami all-star after not allowing a sack all of last year.
Strength: Versatility. Players like Morse, Trump, Bain, Barney and Byrd can be moved around where needed creating good depth and plenty of options.
Weakness: Run blocking. Can this group generate any sort of a push? It hasn't over the last few years, and it didn't this spring. The overall experience has to mean more production.
Outlook: The line improved after a miserable 2005, but it's still not going to be a major strength. There are NFL-caliber prospects at tackle in Fox and Youngblood, and while the middle should be fine, it has to be more physical and more consistent. Developing more young prospects and more depth will be a big key for new offensive line coach, Jeff Stoutland.
Rating: 7


Related Stories
2007 Miami Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Apr 28, 2007
2007 Miami Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Apr 28, 2007
2007 Miami Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Apr 28, 2007

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