There is optimism for the Miami Hurricane’s offense next season. In 2020, Miami’s offense averaged 34 points per game and will only replace one starter. One of the areas that figure to be a strength next season is the offensive line. There are six players on Miami’s offensive line that have started over 20 games in their career. But few could have the impact as the return of Navaughn Donaldson.
Arguably the best offensive lineman on the team only played in two games last season. One of the areas that Miami’s offense struggled in was between the tackles, notably the guard positions. The Hurricanes will be noticeably much larger in size with the return of Donaldson. At 6’6 350 pounds, he’ll definitely make his presence felt as he looks to have fully recovered from a knee injury in 2019.
There will be a ton of happy faces to get a healthy Donaldson for a full season. The Miami native started ten games as a true freshman and instantly gained recognition being name All-ACC honorable mention. The Hurricanes won 10 games in Donaldson’s first year and are trying to get back to that point.
Through his first three seasons he’s started 34 games, playing guard and tackle, depending on the need. This year with so much experience returning back on the Miami offensive line, Donaldson will return to his natural guard spot. After tearing his ACL and MCL towards the end of 2019, Donaldson and the Hurricanes agreed to medically redshirt as he recovered. He continued progressing throughout the season and enough so that he would be available in an emergency situation. Miami dealt with some coronavirus related issues late in 2020 and Donaldson had his number called.
Against Duke, the same team which Donaldson suffered his knee injury a year before, he would make a major impact. In his first game action of the season, Donaldson would cave down his defender opening a big running lane for Cam Harris on a 34 yard touchdown run. That play was just a reminder of how much of a difference he makes in Miami’s rushing attack.
The run game was a big topic of discussion and the offense delivered. What a giant hole the OL gave Harris. Look who’s in at left guard…big Navaughn Donaldson. Welcome back young man. pic.twitter.com/5G3gda8QPn
— Canes Legacy (@CanesLegacy) December 6, 2020
Impact of Donaldson In 2021
In terms of importance on the offensive line, left tackle is usually the most prestigious position due to protecting the quarterback’s blindside. The Miami Hurricanes have said they must improve on running the football this next season, so the guard spots will be major. Having a veteran like Donaldson with his size and experience it could be the last ingredient in a potent offense. With quarterback D’Eriq King set to return, albeit from a knee injury of his own, the offense is waiting to explode. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, saw his offense score 11 more points in his second season at SMU. If the same trends follows him at Miami, the offense would rank amongst the best in the nation. That starts with the ability to run the football at will.
Miami has made it no secret it would like to find a running back that can carry the football 20 plus times and takeover as the lead back. Part of the issue last season was the lack of space for any back to be successful and gain momentum. With the return of Donaldson and the others, Miami should consistently open up more holes to run the football. All three of the Hurricane’s main running backs return and any of the three could end up as the main back.