The Miami Hurricanes have an offensive coordinator who favors tighter formations. There is nothing wrong with that. The Los Angeles Rams were notoriously known for running condensed looks and tight sets enroute to becoming Super Bowl LVI champions. However, the Miami Hurricanes need to spread out.
Except there is one big difference between the Rams and the Hurricanes. The Rams benefit from having a polished and adaptive NFL line who have ample practice hours whereas the Hurricanes do not. The NFL is a full time business.
Versus the Duke Blue Devils, the Hurricanes gave up 6 sacks. Many of those sacks, if not all of them, came from the same variety. The Blue Devils brought a complex problem to the table and Miami kept answering it wrong. It kept knocking over its own cups.
On the play where starting quarterback Tyler Van Dyke was injured, the Hurricanes utilized a tight set. Ten Duke defenders were in striking distance to the quarterback. It was a dangerous game of cat and mouse and the Hurricanes simply couldn’t get it blocked right. The Blue Devils repeatedly played the role of the mouse trap and Miami was unwillingly its prey.
If I asked you to solve the problem 132,356,543 plus 832,485,986 equals what quickly, can you? I am not insulting your intelligence. I promise. But I think we can agree solving 354 plus 200 is much easier to process. Again, some individuals are just exceptionally gifted at math and what most might consider complex is really not. For the rest of us, it is easier to process the smaller picture.
The offensive line is processing a ton of information at the line of scrimmage because the variables are higher. There is more opportunities for defenders to blitz because more are at a vantage point to blitz. The hog mollies are responsible for setting the protection for the quarterback on any given play. It is a constant cerebral chess match that ultimately ends in physicality.
It ended rather tragically when the Hurricanes heard Duke emphatically yell “Checkmate!” Van Dyke laid injured on the floor. Multiple defenders came in untouched and the line call simply wasn’t good enough. In all honesty neither was the play call. Someone shouldn’t be considered “open” if you never have the time to deliver them the football.
So what can the offense do to avoid similar? I think it is past time for the Miami Hurricanes to simplify the equation. You have heard the term “spread offense” but the reality is, it is an ambiguous term. Gattis considers his offense a “spread offense” like so many other OC’s these days do. But I am merely suggesting that the offense simply “spread out.”
The Baylor Spread is a spread offense derivative that actually lives up to its name sake. And there is a very accentuating aspect to it. The wide receivers are out wide. The X and Z receivers (The outside wide outs) will often take up residency close to the sidelines. The slot receivers often times are outside the hash.
William Shatner iconically declared in the opening of Star Trek that space is the final frontier. Whether that is true of not, I don’t know. I do know that Tennessee Offensive Coordinator Alex Golesh utilized a ton of it when they defeated the Tide. The warp speed Volunteers absolutely gutted Alabama to the tune of 52 points and subsequently only allowed one sack on the night.
I am not going to pretend that aligning out wider with receivers is going to be the instant cure-all. But you have to at least consider the argument that teams cannot get as exotic in the box when you limit their variables. Here is two examples of Vol touchdowns. Both only show six Alabama defenders in the box. Now go back and watch the play TVD gets hurt on. Variables.
Rhett Lashlee proved two things when he was the Miami Hurricanes Offensive Coordinator. You can score points with the Miami talent on this roster (31.5 Points/G vs P5 in 2021) and that spacing out works. It simplifies the game. Currently Gattis is only averaging 18.5 Points/G vs P5 in 2022. Dan Enos, who wasn’t retained after 2019, scored 25.6 points/G vs P5 competition.
It is an over simplistic view. Come in tight and run the risk of another collision course or spread out and see if you can simplify the lanes. Former Miami Hurricane quarterback Malik Rosier maybe shared the same view in a recent tweet. “More 5 wide/more open sets. It will help Jake easily and clearly see coverages and blitzes.”
This season is a loss. The mixture of talent and scheme have collided in calamity. Could the Gattis style spread operate more efficiently with better talent? Absolutely. Could a different OC and philosophy have gotten better results this year? 1000%. This was a standoff that was destined to fail. But I would like to interject one last final parting gift.
The University of Miami has been exclusive dance partners with NFL style offenses for the better part of two decades. Yet it experimented with a true college spread for only two years in that time frame. Those two years happened to be its most successful iteration ever. It shouldn’t take a math major to figure this one out.
You can go pro when you ascertain 2001 talent and a 2001 offensive line. Mario Cristobal will certainly get the talent here. He has the track record for it. But until that time comes you might want to turn on the TV and figure out why these other “gimmicky” college spread offenses work and yours does not. History is a reliable teacher.