What metrics reveal about new UM QB Cam Ward. And news at running back, offensive line

Joe Nicholson/Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Part 4 of a four-part series on new UM quarterback Cam Ward

Some quick final nuggets and metrics on Ward, the Washington State transfer who is expected to start for Miami in 2024 and then move on to the NFL:

Ward is a skilled passer on deep throws.

Per Pro Football Focus, Ward had a 112.8 NFL passer rating on passes that traveled at least 20 air yards, completing 23 of 57 for 725 yards, 10 TDs and two interceptions.

The 10 TDs on those throws tied for 21st in the country.

The 725 yards on those throws were 49th — just, behind, coincidentally, former UM starter Tyler Van Dyke’s 726.

But Van Dyke had just a 93.8 passer rating on those deep throws last season, with 7 TDs and 5 interceptions. Ward’s passer rating was 19 points higher.

When Ward had a clean pocket, he had a 109.4 passer rating, compared with 103 for Van Dyke.

Ward had a 73.3 completion percentage on those clean pocket throws, with 21 TDs and five interceptions.

When Ward had a pass rush in his face, his accuracy dropped to 45.2 percent (52 for 115), with four TDs and two interceptions, and his NFL passer rating dropped to 72.6.

Ward was very effective on intermediate throws (10 to 19 yards): He completed 60 of 91 of those attempts for 1,150 yards, six TDs and five picks. That was a 108.2 passer rating on those types of throws.

He had five TDs, no picks and completed 76.7 percent of his passes on passes from 0 to 9 yards.

He also benefited from yards after catch; he had five TD passes on passes thrown behind the line of scrimmage.

He had a 103.7 passer rating when blitzed (10 TDs, 2 INT)and a 99.7 passer rating when not blitzed (15 TDs, five picks).

But he completed 69.5 percent of his passes when not blitzed, compared with 58.4 percent when he was blitzed.

Ward has a very good 100.8 overall NFL passer rating this past season, compared with 94.7 for Van Dyke, who transferred to Wisconsin.

Ward knows he must be selective when he runs or leaves the pocket.

“I’m my hardest critic on myself,” Ward said last offseason. “I think there’s more times just when you need to win from the pocket. Because where I want to get in this football life you have to be able to win from the pocket.”

NEWS NOTES

The Canes added depth to their running back room during the weekend by snagging FSU’s Rodney Hill in the transfer portal. Hill has averaged 4.3 yards on 77 career carries.

Hill ran 27 times for 144 yards and a touchdown as a freshman in 2022, then ran 50 times for 190 yards and a TD last season.

He had five receptions for 83 yards and two kickoff returns for 42 yards last season.

He didn’t get a carry against UM in their past two meetings. His best games were against Georgia Tech in 2022 (6 carries, 42 yards) and against Boston College last season (5 for 42).

With Don Chaney Jr. transferring to Louisville, UM now has seven scholarship running backs: Mark Fletcher Jr., Henry Parrish Jr., Ajay Allen, Hill, Chris Johnson (who preserved his redshirt by playing in only four games) and freshmen Jordan Lyle and Chris Wheatley-Humphrey.

UM is awaiting word from Washington starting guard Nate Kalepo, who visited Miami’s campus over the weekend.

Kalepo — who also is visiting Mississippi — likely would replace NFL-bound Javion Cohen as a starting left guard if he picks UM.

Per Pro Football Focus, Kalepo has permitted just one sack each of the past two seasons.

Keep in mind that Wednesday is the final day to enroll at UM and be eligible for the spring semester.

If Kalepo bypasses UM, UM’s starting left guard could be Matthew McCoy or another portal player.

If Samson Okunlola wins the left tackle job, UM could move starting left tackle Jalen Rivers to left guard. But Rivers played well at tackle last season.

The full Atlantic Coast Conference football schedule (with dates, but not times) will be announced at 5 p.m. Wednesday on ACC Network and ESPN2.

UM’s home games next season are Florida A&M, Ball State, Duke, FSU, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

UM’s road games next season are at UF, at USF, at California, at Georgia Tech, at Louisville and at Syracuse.

Here’s Part 1 of our Cam Ward series with a breakdown from Washington State’s radio analyst.

Here’s Part 2 of our series with something encouraging about his play and how he ended up at UM.

Here’s Part 3 of our series with Ward feedback from Washington State coaches and Fox’s Brock Huard, and more tidbits.

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