OPINION: The Running Game will Come at a Cost

The University of Miami Hurricanes ran the ball for 126.1 yards a game last year. There are currently 14 schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference and that stat ranked Miami 12th. The last time the Miami was in the top three in terms of conference rushing it was 2010 when Damien Berry and then freshman Lamar Miller were in the stable. (183.6)

Coach Mario Cristobal’s quack attack at Oregon averaged 202.3 yards a game last year. When you have a tough hard nose coach who requires a tough physical running game it is no surprise. You add an offensive line scientist to the mix in coach Alex Mirabal, the running game will intensify. It has to. It needs to.

When I recall the recent #OBB interview with Coach Mirabal something stood out when he mentioned DJ Scaife. “That joker has always been tough.” There was a caveat however. Mirabal was insistent that when you constantly make and offensive line go horizontal to the line of scrimmage his physical efficacy dissipates.

“That joker has always been tough.” Coach Alex Mirabal on offensive lineman DJ Scaife Jr.

Now was this a subtle jab at the previous staff? Maybe. That was certainly not the intention from Mirabal. He is not that type of coach but an indictment of his predecessors could still be made. The resounding feeling around former offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee was relatively positive. The offense definitely had its fun moments. But the terms “short yardage situation” and “Rhett Lashlee” take on suddenly oil and water connotations. They didn’t mix.

So the insatiable desire to no longer go horizontal and require a physical up the field running game has a cost.  Everything does. It is like going to your stock broker after feverishly making an investment.  QB1 Tyler Van Dyke eloquently had this to say during the ACC media days.

“Coming from a lot of the RPOs around last year, we’re doing a lot more play action, full-field lead pass concepts. I’m really excited for it. We are really trying to emphasize the run game and really trying to balance the run/pass game up a little bit. That will make me better and open up the pass game a lot more than it did last year. He likes to utilize the talent we have, the running backs and the tight ends to the best ability. I’m really excited for that and can’t wait for it.” Tyler Van Dyke

The RPO screen game comprised a significant chunk of passing yardage last year. There is a site adjustment pre snap or post snap a quarterback makes. Lashlee could have had a run component called but Van Dyke often had the ability to throw the quick perimeter pass. Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis wants to be physical too now. Given the hard nosed nature of all significant parties involved; Cristobal, Gattis, Mirabal you get the sense it will be less bubble and more punch.

Van Dyke’s passing numbers might suffer slightly simply based on one fact alone. Lashlee had Van Dyke pass more because Miami simply could not run the ball effectively when they needed to. Under coach Cristobal, that will not be an option.

Would Hurricane’s fans be happy if the Hurricanes are better in the win column by doing what it hasn’t historically done since joining the ACC? The answer is obviously Yes. By running the football consistently the passing game yardage might slip. The fact you have a potential first round quarterback in the midst is also something that needs to be weighed carefully.

In 2019 the LSU Tigers won a national championship with Joe Burrow at quarterback. They averaged 401 yards passing as a team and were second nationally. The Tigers were modest in rushing ranking 60th nationally averaging 166.8 a game. Passing can still be king in college football. Just exactly what will be the cost of running the ball for the Miami Hurricanes in 2022?

About the Author: Roman Marciante

Born and raised in South Florida. Local Boy. Husband. Tali and Franco’s dad. “Hey grandpa, is there a local college team we can watch?” “Do they throw the ball?” They don’t run the option do they?” Thus the love affair was born. Proud supporter of St Thomas Aquinas Raider nation and alum. One day got in a studio with two other buddy’s and started a conversation about a local team and the rest was history. A former pro athlete who secretly had a CIA job and some people call “Chief.” Yells “Bang” a lot. “It is not wrong, it is just different.” Managing Editor for the OBB Legend, host of X’s and Ro and Student of the Game connoisseur. I still remember the day I beat Mike Tyson in a fight. 007-373-5963. Thanks for all your help Mac. I couldn’t have done it without you.

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