When UM players were informed, this past spring, that the Hurricanes offense would essentially be taken out of the dark ages - and feature more elements from the way modern college football is played - their jubilant reaction mirrored those of fans and TV analysts who were vociferously clamoring for a more contemporary approach.
“We were so happy,” tight end Brevin Jordan admitted this week. “Last year, we didn’t run a lot of motions. [Now we are]. It excites fans. It even excites us that it excites the fans. We’re excited for everything [new offensive coordinator Dan Enos] is going to bring to the offense.”
Nobody has any idea how UM’s offense will perform with a new quarterback, an inexperienced offensive line and one only significant player in his final year of eligibility (receiver K.J. Osborn).
But this much is clear: UM will no longer be subjected to national TV analysts ridiculing the simplicity - and lack of creativity - of Miami’s 2018 approach under Mark Richt, a decision driven in part by the coach’s lack of confidence in his players being able to run anything more complex.
“Last year, we had a very simple offense - a simple, systemic offense,” Jordan said. Enos’ offense is “much more sophisticated,” Jordan said. “It’s like an NFL offense. It’s all about concepts. It’s not like one word, here’s the play. It’s boom, motion, boom, protection, boom play. It’s very complex.
“When we talk to our defensive guys, it’s like, dang, ‘What were you all doing today?’ The main thing is we want to have them guessing, like ‘What are they going to do, where is he going to go?’ It creates mismatch problems.”
Tight end Will Mallory said there were times last year where the opponent knew exactly what UM would do on offense before the play was run - something that’s demoralizing to players. He says that won’t be the case now. “This year, [the offensive system] gives us a better chance,” he said. As center Corey Gaynor said, UM’s offense will now “be less predictable.”
For those wondering why adding motion to the offense should make a difference, allow Jordan to explain.
“Us having more motion creates mismatch problems. Me motioning out, like say I’m on the back side and I motion out, they’re putting a linebacker on me or a safety on me. Linebackers are too slow, DBs are too [small]. All it does is create mismatch problems. We’re going to get money, simple.”
And this isn’t just the offensive players hyping Enos’ offense. Cornerback Al Blades said: “I’m excited for you guys to see what our offense has coming. You’ll see.”
Linebacker Shaquille Quarterman, who has defended this offense every day in practice, explains the new approach this way: “A lot of college teams are in the gun, a lot of 11, 12 personnel. But Dan Enos, does it all -- from 11 to 12 to 22. Not only does he do all personnels, but the shifts, motions, the type of routes they run, it’s a whole different level from what we were accustomed to a year ago. That’s going to be a tough thing for [defenses to deal with]. He’s very good at putting your defense in a tough spot or making people on your defense do something they’re not used to doing. Just that in itself will be very good for us.”
Defensive coordinator Blake Baker said this is as sophisticated an offense as he’s been around.
“In the passing game, it’s much more complicated; it gives our defense fits in practice,” Baker said. “There’s a lot of what I call rule breakers, things we’ve got to get together as a defensive staff and talk about. As a defensive coordinator, that’s when you know you’re playing an [offensive coordinator] that knows what he’s doing. When he’s breaking your rules every time, he’s not just throwing stuff on the wall and hoping it sticks. He’s been very impressive to work with.”
So how much does scheming and outsmarting the defense actually matter?
“We have to have really good players that bought in and you have to have a good system that utilizes those players,” Enos said. “You can have good players and not a good system and it’s not as good…. Everybody needs everybody. The players need us; we need them. It’s important to have a good system. It’s equally important to have good players that believe in the system.”
The concern with running a sophisticated offense is the fact UM’s offensive personnel is extremely young. But Enos said player retention of his offense has “been great. This spring, it was a struggle but we got a lot taught and [this camp] we felt really good about our install. We didn’t have a day where we said we weren’t installing because we weren’t ready for it.”
Quarterback and offensive line performance will largely dictate this offense’s success. But in the weeks ahead, we’ll get a clearer answer to the question about whether a more advanced, sophisticated offensive system can help boost a unit that was 93rd in total offense and 66th in scoring.
UM players seem convinced it will.
“The goal,” receiver Mike Harley Jr. said, is simple: “Keep you off balance, keep you on your toes. You study one thing and we come at you next week with something different. It’s next level.”