What UM metrics reveal about Van Dyke, offensive line, running back. And recruiting update

Chris Seward/AP
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Second in a three-part series

Nuggets from the University of Miami’s offensive metrics this past season and what they tell us about the roster, with numbers courtesy of Ryan Smith of Pro Football Focus:

The offensive line that Mario Cristobal and former Oregon offensive line coach Alex Mirabal are taking over was above average in pass protection but substandard in run blocking.

And augmenting the unit has been a priority during the past two weeks. Oregon’s Logan Sagapolu was added in the transfer portal; he sat out as a freshman and missed last season with a torn triceps.

And four Class of 2022 offensive linemen are being targeted: guard Dave Iuli and tackles Josh Conerly, Anez Cooper and Matthew McCoy. Conley and Cooper are visiting UM this weekend.

Iuli visited campus previously and the Canes have a good shot to land him. McCoy also remains in play.

Of the group that ended the season as starters — left tackle Zion Nelson, guards Navaughn Donaldson and DJ Scaife, center Jakai Clark and right tackle Jarrid Williams — three players will return: Nelson, Clark and Scaife.

Donaldson and Williams have used up their college eligibility.

Jalen Rivers, who played in only three games before a season-ending knee injury, could again emerge as the opening-day starter at left guard, but he will need to prove himself to a new coaching staff. Rivers allowed a sack and graded out poorly as a run blocker in the first three games, though playing Alabama in the opener can skew that.

John Campbell, Justice Oluwaseun or Michael McLaughlin or a freshman or another transfer could be the starting right tackle, unless Mirabal decides to move Scaife there. Keep in mind that Scaife has performed better at guard than tackle during his UM career, so keeping Scaife at guard makes sense.

Campbell and Rivers are both coming off major injuries and likely won’t be ready to go full-go this spring.

Of the offensive linemen who are expected to return, Scaife graded out the best. He allowed only eight quarterback pressures and two sacks and his run blocking grades were good, too. PFF ranked him the 33rd best of 537 qualifying FBS guards.

The only UM lineman who graded out better than Scaife was Williams, who was rated 21st best among 545 qualifying FBS tackles.

Nelson, playing most every snap at left tackle, permitted three sacks and 15 pressures, and PFF said he was the 14th-best pass blocking tackle in the country. He was mediocre as a run blocker, and PFF overall ranked him 116th of 545 tackles. He likely would not have been drafted in the first three rounds and made a smart decision returning to UM.

Clark was decent after replacing the injured Corey Gaynor, who transferred to North Carolina. Clark allowed nine pressures and no sacks but graded out poorly as a run blocker, which explains the fact that PFF ranked him 197th of 272 centers. Gaynor was graded even worse (241st of 272).

Keep in mind that Sagapolu was rated the No. 6 Class of 2019 center prospect in the country by Rivals. He was working as Oregon’s second-team guard last August before his injury. So he could challenge Rivers or Clark for a starting job.

Oluwaseun — who was brought here by departing UM offensive line coach Garin Justice after they were together at UNLV — must prove to Mirabal and Cristobal that he’s worthy of consideration to start at right tackle or left guard. PFF rated him 285th among 545 tackles.

The departing Donaldson graded out 199th of 537 guards and relinquished only one sack this season.

UM’s top running backs and receivers weren’t great blockers, according to PFF. Jaylan Knighton allowed two sacks and seven pressures.

I found this interesting: Tyler Van Dyke threw more than twice as many passes that traveled 20 or more air yards in 10 games as the Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa threw in 13 games this past season.

Tagovailoa threw only 29 passes that traveled at least 20 air yards, with 14 completions.

Van Dyke threw 65 such passes, with 24 completions for 932 yards, nine touchdowns, two interceptions and an 111.7 passer rating on those throws, which is exceptional.

Even though he didn’t play the first three games, Van Dyke’s 932 passing yards on those throws were 22nd in the country and his nine touchdowns on those throws ranked 24th.

PFF graded the departing Cam’Ron Harris as a much better running back than Knighton.

Harris averaged 2.69 yards after contact, per attempt, which was 205th among 388 running backs. Knighton was 2.17, which was 254th of 388.

Overall, PFF rated Harris 224th of 388 backs and Knighton 304th.

Knighton’s 3.9 per carry average would rank only 131st of 150 running backs if he had enough carries to qualify, and the pass blocking grades were poor.

In Knighton’s defense, he handled a yeoman workload with UM’s backfield depleted (including 32 carries against Georgia Tech) and had 20 catches for 280 yards (a 14.0 average) and three touchdowns. And UM’s offensive line did him no favors in run blocking.

But Don Chaney Jr. or Henry Parrish will be given every opportunity to beat him out for the starting job.

Out of 826 receivers, PFF ranked departing Charleston Rambo 96th and Mike Harley 223rd. Rambo led the team with 387 yards after catch, which was 44th among FBS receivers.

UM’s younger receivers didn’t rate highly on PFF but that’s not reflective of what the Canes think of this group.

PFF rated Will Mallory only 260th of 352 tight ends because it graded him poorly as a blocker.

THIS AND THAT

Besides offensive tackles Conerly and Cooper, the other Class of 2022 recruits visiting this weekend are Miami Gardens Monsignor Pace five-star defensive end Shemar Stewart (Texas A&M and Georgia also are in play), four-star Georgia-based defensive tackle Christen Miller (Georgia, Ohio State, Oregon are also in the mix), Louisiana-based running back Trevonte’ Citizen (reportedly more likely to end up at a Southeastern Conference schools) and two Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons players: defensive linemen Ahmad Moten and R Mason Kelly.

Four-star defensive ends Gracen Halton (San Diego-based) and Jack Pyburn (Jacksonville-based) also might visit, per Canesport. Pyburn - who had been considering only Auburn and UM - now is also giving thought to UF and will visit the Gainesville campus on Saturday.

Coming next week: A look at UM’s revealing metrics with their defensive front seven.

Here’s part 1 of the series with UM’s pass coverage metrics.

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