I've never been one to buy into the idea teams would withhold an entire offense for a tougher team the following week. Maybe, a few trick plays here or there. But an entire offense?
This week as Miami has prepared for Oklahoma, some of you brought up the idea that UM may have been saving something for the Sooners this week and thus that was the reason Kirby Freeman and the pass offense put up an unimpressive 81 yards against Marshall's weak pass D last Saturday. So I decided to raise the question. And to my surprise, I got a lot of smiles after practice Wednesday when I asked if offensive coordinator Patrick Nix simply didn't want to tip his hand to Oklahoma last week.
Q: Hey Darnell Jenkins, were you guys holding back?
A: "That's what Coach Nix wanted. And if we do everything against Marshall, they have all our film. Right now, we're just going over offense and preparing ourself."
Q: So people are going to be surprised? Real surprised?
A: "Watch the game Saturday," Jenkins said. "Stay tuned."
Jenkins got me thinking. Maybe there is something to it. But I had to ask some more. How about Lance Leggett?
Q: You caught a lot of quick little flare passes on Saturday, any chance we see you downfield some more?
A: "[Laughter]. I don't want to say anything. You'll see Saturday."
Q: But will the offense be more exciting?
A: "I don't really want to say. Just wait for Saturday. We can throw the ball. I know the fans want to see it. They just got to wait."
Jason Fox smiled when I asked him the same line of questioning. Sam Shields too. As much I want to believe there is some great pass offense in store waiting to be unleashed, I'm still very much skeptical. It's been a long time since I can remember Miami's pass offense being very effective. Why wouldn't Nix want his kids to go into Oklahoma with some confidence it could throw downfield?
For those of you wondering the last time Miami's pass offense actually had a big day, I went back and researched last season. The biggest passing day? 299 yards against Duke. The Canes, in fact, eclipsed the 200-yard passing mark only five times in 13 games last season. For the record, the last 300-yard passing game came against Wake Forest in 2005. What about the last time a Miami receiver had more than 100 yards? Lance Legget (6 catches for 131 yards vs. Duke). It was the only time a Miami receiver went over the 100-yard mark at all last season.
There's no doubt 81 passing yards probably won't be enough to beat Oklahoma Saturday. Miami's pass offense has to be more effective than that because Oklahoma's defensive line is no joke. After speaking with left tackle Jason Fox, center John Rochford and right guard Derrick Morse, all three said OU's d-line is just as good as the one they face in practice everyday, "just younger," Fox told me and "a bit lighter and faster" at defensive tackle according to Morse and Rochford.
"They'll get into your body and try to use a rip move or a club move," Rochford said when describing OU's attack. "It's something we're going to have be ready for. From what I saw on film, it looked like they only had one or two moves each time. They didn't blitz a lot on North Texas, they didn't need to. But we'll be prepared if they bring it this week. These guys are good, they're big, strong, we have to bring our A-game this week."
* I also asked Jenkins what having a guy like Sam Shields (who was suspended last week) back in the lineup would mean to Miami's offense. Apparently, he thinks it will make a huge difference.
"It takes pressure off," Jenkins said. "It takes them from play 3 [defensive backs] over 2 [receivers] or man. Now, they may back up a little because of the speed. He's a big threat. All of us have speed, it just hasn't been shown yet. Like I said, watch Saturday."
Shields is listed third on the depth chart, but Shannon later added "what does that really matter? They all play 35 to 40 plays anyway."