Is Mark Whipple The Reason For The Miami Hurricanes Offensive Woes?

Sports Session November 12, 2010 3

There is a great debate raging right now in Coral Gables, and it is obvious that it would come to this at some point when Jacory Harris was injured.  Stephen Morris has played like a veteran out there in the game and a half of action he now has under his belt.  Of course he made some freshman mistakes, but the overall body of work is very promising.

But even with that being said those performances were against Virginia and Maryland, and the quality of competition has to be taken into account.  Maryland is having a good season, and let’s face it playing Miami was Virginia’s bowl game for the year and they pushed all their chips in the middle and lucked out.  As expected people are making knee jerk suggestions that Stephen Morris should be the starter, and Jacory Harris is done at Miami.

First of all it is easy to see that Harris has not played his best football this season, and there are times where he looked like he has regressed in his development.  But, this player has led the Miami Hurricanes to a lot of wins since he has been the starter, to the point where he was being mentioned in the Heisman trophy conversation.  Although some of the blame should fall on Harris, there is plenty of blame to go around that contributed to losses.  Miami receivers have dropped plenty of passes this year, and there are times where the offensive line has not been stellar.

Many will point to Harris as the number two problem next to Randy Shannon, but the real problem lies in one simple word “approach”.  Mark Whipple’s approach to the game plan on offense has been the cause of many of the other issues that have plagued this team.  It seems like Whipple has given Harris a pass to throw the ball deep almost every play, and calls plays with multiple deep routes which encourage Harris to go for the big play.

Longer and deeper routes lead to lineman having to hold their block longer, which leads to false start and holding penalties as the lineman try to get an edge.  Add in the fact that Miami does nothing with snap count or cadence change when they drop back almost 40 times a game, and you have defenders timing the snap count almost perfectly.

Enter Stephen Morris, and all of a sudden Whipple decides he is not comfortable with a true freshman throwing the ball deep like Harris.  So, Whipple changes his play calling and emphasizes the running game against Maryland to the tune of 49 carries, and he called shallow to intermediate routes sprinkled in with play action passes to keep the defense off balance.

This enable Miami to move the ball against Maryland almost at will, they just kept stalling and settling for field goal attempts.  If Whipple took this same approach with Jacory Harris, and called less deep routes you would see the similar or better results potentially.  Whipple needs to dispense with the idea that Harris is an extension of the coach on the field; Harris takes too many unnecessary risks at inopportune times.

So before the fans go crowning Stephen Morris as the next great savior, they need to realize that if Whipple gets pass happy again we could be headed down the same path.  If Morris wins the job hopefully he will play within himself, and use his feet to scramble when he gets out of trouble rather than making errant throws.  One thing is for sure Morris brings another dimension to the game that Harris does not have, and if Whipple can stay committed to the run this team may be able to salvage this season after all.


  1. Mr. Rodgers November 26, 2010 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    right on target–good article

  2. tony ranoldo November 28, 2010 at 8:48 am - Reply

    Watch the game moron. Whipple doesn’t throw the ball. the quarterback does. If you watch the games. Whipple has been seen screaming at the quarterback. A coach screams at a player when the player makes the wrong play/read. Cory is a great athlete, but I do not think he can read a defense. Whipple has been successful coaching for ever team he has been associated with, and the reason he is not allowing the young qb to throw, is because as we now know, he cannot read defense eithier.

    • Sports Session November 29, 2010 at 8:41 am -

      It’s a tandem between the quarterback and offensive play caller. I have seen Whipple inexplicably throw the ball fifty times in a game with Jacory Harris who we all agree can’t be trusted to make good decisions. So if Jacory and Morris are as inept as you say they are then Whipple needs to rely on the running game which has been successful in just about every game. Plus you call three step drop quick routes, and limit the option for Harris to go deep or make a bad read.

      Slants, outs, and comeback routes are the easiest plays to run in football, but yet I see Whipple letting Harris air it out all to often. At the end of the day if the player is not responding or running the plays correctly it’s on the coach to correct that or replace the player. I guess we will see what the next coaching staff does.

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