University of Miami coaches knew something had to change after the offensive line gave up eight sacks in a 58-play scrimmage Saturday.
Monday’s practice resulted in the coaches tinkering with the starting lineup to see if they could improve the struggling unit that lost center Brett Romberg and guard Sherko Haji-Rasouli to graduation.
“We’re definitely a work in progress on the offensive line,” head coach Larry Coker said.
Coaches promoted sophomore Eric Winston, who switched to the line from tight end prior to spring practice, to the starting left tackle position Monday.
Carlos Joseph, the starter last season at left tackle, moved to right tackle. Joseph struggled at times last season and the coaches hope Winston will emerge as a force on the left side of the line.
“[Winston] is going to be a fantastic player,” offensive line coach Art Kehoe said. “He’s got work ethic, toughness, size, and intelligence. He’s got the whole package.”
Joel Rodriguez, who has worked as the first team center during spring practice, moved to left guard on the second team, while right guard Chris Myers took over Rodriguez’s snapping duties on the first team. Vernon Carey moved from right tackle to right guard and Joe McGrath remained at left guard.
“I think Joel is more than capable of being the starting center,” Myers said. “I’m just going in and working as his backup right now.”
Kehoe also emphasized that Rodriguez wasn’t being punished.
“It’s not a demotion,” Kehoe said. “We want to make sure we’ve got the best five and make sure that we’re versatile.”
Kehoe emphasized that Carey, Joseph, McGrath, Myers, Rodriguez, and Winston are
the top six offensive linemen. Figuring out who starts and at what positions, however, could pose a problem.
“We’re just going to keep moving guys around until we find the right deal,” Kehoe said. “We’re seeing where they fit in, in case guys get injured, we can see if they can play other positions.”
Coker said that the coaches would like to keep this line-up in place through Saturday’s spring game at the Orange Bowl.
Coaches guarded tailback Frank Gore in practice Monday because he has a bruised shoulder. They hope Gore, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, will return to practice later in the week… Wide receiver Akieem Jolla practiced in full pads for the first time this spring. He said his groin injury has healed about 70 percent of the way… Redshirt freshman Brandon Meriweather suffered a high ankle sprain in Saturday’s scrimmage and will stay sidelined the rest of the spring.
The Hurricanes annual Spring Game takes place at the Orange Bowl on Saturday at
10 a.m. The game is open and free to the public.
Nate Johnson can be reached at NPJ44@aol.com.