First Miami player with remaining eligibility entering draft; and OC Dawson defends system

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The first University of Miami player with remaining eligibility is entering the NFL Draft.

Hurricanes left guard Javion Cohen, who transferred to Miami from Alabama before this season, confirmed Monday on social media that he accepted an invitation to play in the 2024 Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile.

Cohen, 6-4 and 305 pounds, played his first three years for Alabama and this year for the Canes. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he, like many other college players, would have another year to play if he had chosen to return to UM. He is listed as a fourth-year junior.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. rated Cohen as the fourth-best NFL Draft prospect among guards.

The Hurricanes (6-5, 2-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), who end the regular season at noon Friday (ABC) at Boston College (6-5, 3-4), are ranked 21st nationally and second in the ACC for sacks allowed (14 total/1.27 a game). The offensive line, coached by Alex Mirabal (with help from head coach Mario Cristobal), has been UM’s finest position group.

Jim Nagy, a longtime NFL scout and executive director of the Senior Bowl, announced Cohen’s acceptance, which was followed by Cohen’s social media post: “God is so good!!! Thank you to @JimNagy_SB and the entire staff for this opportunity! See you soon Mobile!”

Shannon Dawson’s take

UM’s offense has gotten worse statistically as the season has progressed, obviously some of it correlating to when quarterback Tyler Van Dyke injured his right knee, ribs and back in the Oct. 14 loss at North Carolina..

Some comparisons:

Miami’s FBS offensive rankings on Sept. 30 after starting the season 4-0: seventh in total offense (519 yards a game), 21st in passing (296.5), ninth in rushing (222.5), eighth in scoring (43.8 for No. 1 in ACC) and 30th in red zone.

The Hurricanes rankings in those same categories on Oct. 14 (4-2) after losses to Georgia Tech and UNC: seventh (501 yds), 14th (310.8), 27th (191), 13th (37.7) and 54th.

On Oct. 28 (6-2) after overtime wins against Clemson and Virginia: 19th (456.1), 38th (272.4), 31st (183.8), 20th (35.4) and 40th.

On Saturday after consecutive losses to NC State, Florida State and Louisville: 32nd (432.9), 39th (262.1), 51st (170.8), 42nd (30.9) and 71st.

On Monday, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, previously known for his fast-paced, pass-heavy Air Raid offenses, was told by a reporter during his news conference that people are saying UM’s offense “is not the Air Raid’’ and that they’re thinking “Air Raid is... throwing every down all over the field.’’

“How much Air Raid have you been able to run this year?’’ Dawson was asked. “And if you haven’t, have you run a lot less than you would have liked?”

Dawson eventually asked the reporter if people were saying Air Raid means “fast ball all the time.’’

The reporter reiterated that people are saying what Dawson runs is “not the Air Raid.’’

“Well I don’t think they know what the Air Raid is, first of all,’’ Dawson said.

“The people that are judging don’t have a damn clue, if you want to be completely honest, because the Air Raid is a mentality, it’s not a play. It is more of `Hey, this is the pass game in this system’ [and it’s] the same blueprint I use and a handful of other people use that learned it that way.

“Now, the way in which we use it is different, no doubt. Years ago I never huddled and I went as fast as I could go every time. Yeah, and we were one of the top five to 10 offenses in the nation every year and about 117 on defense. There’s a reason for that, because the two can’t exact in the same deal. If you want to be good on both sides then there’s some compatible football that has to exist, and that’s what I’m trying to get to.”

He expounded on his philosophy and said that as he has evolved over time, he has “become a little bit more balanced based on who you want to be as an offense.”

“Yeah, the pass game, our pass game blueprint is Air Raid. It’s the same thing I learned 20 years ago. Now, do we throw it every time? No. There is nobody out there that throws it every time. The guy that did that [Mike Leach] passed away last year. He was really the last guy that was throwing it as much as he wanted to.

“...We want to play compatible football here. I’m trying to do everything I can do to move the ball as much as I can and also have a lot of other things in my mind, you know? I don’t want to put our team in a bad position. If we’re struggling and not getting first downs like I want to get first downs I want to go slower because I don’t want to go three and out fast because I know our defense might have just went out there for eight or 10 plays. The logic behind speed of play to me has a lot to do with understanding how the flow of the game is.

“You can go fast every play if you want to and play 100 snaps, and your defense ultimately at some point during the season is going to break because they’re playing too many snaps. ...So, to me, to be a better football team overall, the pace of play matters. Going fast is great. ...Well, we gotta get in a rhythm to go fast. So if you’re getting first downs and getting in a rhythm, yeah, go fast.”