With his first team of UM coaches, Mario Cristobal seeks to solve three problems from 2021
With the way he built his first coaching staff at the University of Miami, it’s clear that the head coach Mario Cristobal has a good understanding of the issues that need to be resolved quickly in 2022.
UM 2022’s coaching staff is nearly complete, and Cristobal has made a statement by dedicating extensive coaching resources to three groups of positions in particular: offensive line, defensive line and linebacker.
You could argue that those are UM’s three biggest problems for a 2021 team that went a disappointing 7-5.
Cristobal basically has two on-field coaches per position group. He will work with the offensive line with the offensive line coach Alex Mirabal. The defensive line will be shared between Joe Salave’a, who will coach the defensive tackles, and Rod Wright, which will train the defensive ends. Linebackers will be coached by the defensive co-coordinator strong charlie and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele also has experience coaching linebackers.
The message is clear: Cristobal wants to get as much improvement as possible in this group of positions heading into the 2022 season.
On the offensive line, Cristobal and Mirabal have proven themselves by consistently fielding some of the best offensive lines in the nation in Oregon from 2018-21.
The phase of offensive line play in which Cristobal and Mirabal yield particular results is run blocking.
Oregon averaged 202 rushing yards per game in 2021, which ranked it No. 24 overall in the nation. The Ducks also allowed just 3.86 tackles for loss per game. Miami ranked No. 108 overall in the nation in tackles for loss allowed at 6.75 per game.
Miami has faced five top-40 defenses in 2021: Alabama (4th), Appalachian State (25th), Michigan State (15th), NC State (22nd) and Pittsburgh (6th). In those games, UM averaged 94.6 yards rushing and 2.9 yards per carry in those games. Appalachian State was the only opponent UM rushed 100 yards against, totaling 175 yards in that game.
The Ducks have featured a 1,000-yard rusher in every full season of the Mario Cristobal era (off season 2020 shortened COVID). Miami’s last 1,000-yard rusher was in 2016.
UM’s pass protection was relatively good in 2021, but Cristobal and Mirabal will look to establish a more physical mentality for the Hurricanes in the running game in 2022.
On the defensive line, Cristobal will look to improve a group that has seen its production and impact drop in 2021 compared to the previous five seasons. The folks at Pro Football Focus ranked Miami’s pass at No. 102 overall in the nation. The run defense, which always starts with a solid play up front, was also inconsistent at times with opponents averaging 168 rushing yards per game in Miami’s five losses in 2021.
With a defensive ends coach on his team, Cristobal will dedicate a coaching position to getting the most out of a defensive ends group that has plenty of physical talent and potential, but has lacked consistent production and results. in the field.
Wright helped produce high-caliber passing throwers wherever he found himself early in his coaching career, whether at Sam Houston State, East Carolina or UTSA.
At Sam Houston State, Wright coached PJ Hall, who was later picked in the second round by the Oakland Raiders. In East Carolina, Nate Harvey was named AAC and All-Conference First Team Defensive Player of the Year after posting 63 tackles, 25.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks.
In 2021, UTSA set a school record with 33 sacks and pass rusher Clarence Hicks led the team with 10.5 sacks.
Now Wright, who will also work with the NFL Hall of Fame defensive end Jason Taylorwho joins the program as an analyst, will seek to make the most of talented top players Jahfari Harvey, Chantz Williams, Jake Lichtenstein, Cyrus Moss, Nyjalik KellyElijah Roberts and others.
Salave’a will work with a group of UM defensive tackles that is led by rising sophomore Leonard Taylor, who totaled 7.5 tackles for loss in a backup role as a true freshman in 2021.
During the 2021 season, Salave’a coached two All Pac-12 first-team defensive linemen in Kayvon Thibodeaux and Brandon Dorlus. Salave’a was instrumental in developing the 2017 Consensus All-American Hercules Mata’afa in Washington State.
Salave’a enjoyed an eight-year career in the NFL after the Tennessee Titans selected him out of Arizona in the fourth round of the 1998 NFL Draft. Salave’a spent five years with the Titans, shared 2003 with the Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers and ended his career with a three-year stint with the Washington Redskins before retiring after the 2006 season. He played 100 NFL games, making 28 starts, while totaling 82 tackles, 7.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He appeared in Super Bowl XXXIV for the Titans.
Salave’a knows what high-level defensive play looks like and has shown results in developing productive players at the college level.
At linebacker, Cristobal hired one of college football’s most respected pundits to help fix that group in Strong, who coached 13 All-Americans during his time in Florida alone.
Strong, who served as the head coach for Louisville, Texas, and USF, most recently served as linebackers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Steele has a proven track record of success, most recently at Auburn (2016-20). Steele’s units ranked in the top 20 nationally scoring four times on defense while producing 14 NFL draft picks and several first-round picks.
Strong and Steele, who have a combined 76-yard college football coaching experience, will look to improve a linebacking lineup that was lacking in production in 2021. Corey Flag led the team with 60 tackles while Waynmon Steed finished second on the team with 54 tackles.
According to Pro Football Focus, there were 155 Power Five-level linebackers who played at least 400 defensive snaps. Steed ranked 110th best linebacker in that group while Flagg ranked 123rd best.
Strong and Steele will raise the standard for what is acceptable at linebacker for Miami in 2022.
It’s a cliché in coaching, but it’s true: you get what you value. With this first coaching staff at UM, Cristobal is clearly looking to emphasize the line of scrimmage positions and also looking to play better at linebackers.
Improvement in these areas begins today, with the start of spring football in Miami.