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Barry Jackson

Canes already talking Alabama. And Diaz says he will do what’s necessary to fix things

 

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

You can be sure Alabama — preparing for Monday’s national championship game against Ohio State — isn’t thinking about Miami. But the Hurricanes already are thinking about Alabama.

UM will be heavy underdogs in its Sept. 4 game against Alabama in Atlanta. Popular oddsmaker Lee Sterling of Paramount Sports said he would make the Crimson Tide 24.5-point favorites if D’Eriq King is healthy enough to start, 27-point favorites if he isn’t.

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But it only took minutes after the bowl loss for Canes players to start talking about it.

“Moments after the game was over, it’s brought up,” tight end Will Mallory told WQAM’s Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey. “It has to be brought up. It’s something you come to Miami to do. You come to Miami to play in those big games. It’s the reason why you come here. You’ve got to start preparing as soon as you can. It’s on everybody’s minds. We’re prepared to get ready for that game.”

Manny Diaz knows how much work must be done before then. He has spent several days making staff decisions, a process that is ongoing.

He decided to part ways with cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph, who was the only former Canes player on the coaching staff. But whether those changes involve defensive coordinator Blake Baker remains to be seen.

One coach looking for work said he received no clarity on the defensive coordinator job when he asked this week whether Baker would remain in that position. UM has been giving consideration to Baker coaching safeties, according to a source. UM safeties coach Ephraim Banda left to become defensive coordinator at Utah State, a move that was finally announced Tuesday night.

Utah State did not announce DeMarcus Van Dyke was joining Banda’s defensive staff, as has been reported, so it’s unclear if Van Dyke could change his mind about heading west and decide to pursue Rumph’s job instead.

Diaz isn’t ready to announce anything about his defensive staff at this point.

Diaz, assessing the season with Zagacki and Bailey, knows that for all the progress made, this isn’t good enough.

“It emboldens me to do what I’ve got to do so they feel the success they deserve,” he said. “We want a program our fans expect and it’s coming. A lot of players [elsewhere] didn’t want to play in bowls. This is so mentally draining, [and some players elsewhere said], ‘we’re done.’

And then they [UM players in the bowl game] face the question: What do we do when we’re down 21-0? That would be the time to stop playing. [The fact UM rallied] shows we got a backbone, we got something. But we’re not where we need to be. Sometimes the losses force you to face it and that’s what the next eight months [are all about].”

Diaz revealed UM had players “with multiple 14 day stays [in quarantine] because of contact tracing.”

Mallory said all of it took a toll mentally.

According to a source, the Canes have shown some interest in Oklahoma receiver Charleston Rambo, who’s in the transfer portal.

Rambo, who’s 6-1 and 175 pounds, caught 43 passes for 743 yards (17.3 yards per catch) and five touchdowns in 2019. This past season was viewed inside Oklahoma as a disappointment for Rambo; he had 25 catches for 312 yards (12.5 average).

There has been internal discussion about how to use UM’s final two scholarships among a linebacker, cornerback and receiver. We discussed the linebacker and cornerback options in this piece.

Baker - who hasn’t spoken about his future - insists UM’s future is bright.

“We signed as good a class as anyone in the country, especially on the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “Couple spots we could fill with high school kids or in the transfer portal. A lot of the needs and wants that we had going in we were able to nail down on signing day. I think there are 13 early enrollees [overall] in that group.”

Despite the disappointing play at linebacker, Baker insists “they’ve gotten better every week. There have been up and down moments. A group of guys that they’re all pulling in the same direction, they all want to play and we’ve played a bunch this year. There is no jealousy. For a variety of different reasons we played seven different linebackers meaningful snaps.”

Notable final regular-season offensive snap totals, per Miami Herald metrics correspondent Daniel Gould: Among running backs, Cam’Ron Harris (396) ended up playing a lot more than freshman running backs Knighton (164) and Don Chaney Jr. (157), with Robert Burns logging 31 plays on offense …

Among quarterbacks, King played 700 offensive snaps, N’Kosi Perry 33 and Tyler Van Dyke and Peyton Matocha 4 snaps each. Perry more than doubled that total in the bowl game ...

At receiver, Dee Wiggins played 621 snaps, Mike Harley 530 and Mark Pope 506 … Marshall Few (33 snaps) played more offensive snaps than ballyhooed freshman Xavier Restrepo and Daz Worsham ...

Among the backup tight ends, Larry Hodges played 67 snaps and Dominic Mammarelli 47 …

Guard DJ Scaife (724) and center Corey Gaynor (715) led UM offensive linemen in offensive snaps. Among freshmen, Jalen Rivers played 30 and Chris Washington 5. Guard Cleveland Reed, who was allowed to return after leaving the team during the 2019 season, logged just 25 snaps.

Notable final regular-season defensive snap totals: Among linebackers, Bradley Jennings played 380, Sam Brooks played 307, Zach McCloud 287, Corey Flagg Jr. 161, Waymon Steed 128, Patrick Joyner 60, Ryan Ragone 49, Tirek Austin-Cave 30 and Avery Huff 11. It was somewhat surprising, and disappointing, that Joyner and Huff didn’t earn more time in the eyes of coaches despite UM’s general mediocrity at the position. Joyner has moved on; he entered the transfer portal on Tuesday….

Bubba Bolden, who announced on Tuesday that he’s returning next season, played the most snaps on defense (578)... Among the freshmen defensive backs, safety Brian Balom played 89 defensive snaps, Isaiah Dunson 73, safety Keyshawn Washington 31, cornerback Marcus Clark 29 and safety Jalen Harrell 10….

Among defensive tackles, Nesta Silvera played 381 snaps, Jon Ford 304, Jared Harrison-Hunte 247 (he might have helped somewhat in the North Carolina game if he hadn’t been injured), Jordan Miller 212 and Jalar Holley 127.

Quick stuff: One scout said Bolden made the right call coming back to school, saying his coverage skills and tackling need work... UM looks like a potential top-15 team in baseball. “We were one of the top home run hitting teams in the country,” coach Gino DiMare told WQAM’s Zagacki, referring to UM’s 16 games last season before COVID shut down college baseball. “We got some guys who can knock the ball out of the ballpark and it helps to have that.” … Everyone is bullish on catcher Adrian Del Castillo; DiMare calls him one of the top 10 prospects in the country. He has a chance to be one of the most polished hitters in next June’s draft.

Here’s my Tuesday Miami Heat 6-pack, including a James Harden update.

Here’s my Tuesday piece with lots of data showing how some of the players around Tua Tagovailoa didn’t give him enough help.

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