2007 Miami Preview - Offense
Miami Hurricanes Offense Preview
Preview 2007 - Offense
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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.
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:
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.