Russell Athletic Bowl grades: Miami’s offensive weapons lead the way

Pro Football Focus analysts reveal the highest-graded players and top takeaways from Miami's 31-14 Russell Athletic Bowl win over West Virginia.

| 5 months ago
(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Russell Athletic Bowl grades: Miami’s offensive weapons lead the way

Miami Hurricanes 31, West Virginia Mountaineers 14

Here are the top-graded players in Miami’s 31-14 win over West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl:

West Virginia Mountaineers

Quarterback grade: Skyler Howard, 53.2

Howard plagued by inefficiency

On designed runs, West Virginia QB Skyler Howard averaged 4.5 yards per carry and the longest of those runs ended with a lost fumble. Howard averaged a meddling 5.2 yards per pass attempt and only completed three passes of 10 or more yards the entire game.


Top offensive grades:

HB Justin Crawford, 63.0
Kyle Bosch, 57.3
Jovon Durante, 57.2
QB Skyler Howard, 53.2
Daikiel Shorts Jr., 52.1

Nothing to see here

When your highest-graded offensive player sits at 63.0 (HB Justin Crawford), the sensible path toward clarity would be to examine what went wrong. Four starting West Virginia offensive linemen finished with run-blocking grades south of 50.0 and four finished with pass blocking grades below that mark. A recipe for an offensive disaster.

Top defensive grades:

ILB Justin Arndt, 84.4
Al-Rasheed Benton, 84.2
Noble Nwachukwu, 83.0
Kyzir White, 79.9
Darrien Howard, 77.6

Defense keeps ship afloat

While the offense did next to nothing with their 68 official snaps on the field, much of the Mountaineers’ defense submitted solid efforts. Only three players on defense finished with a grade less than 65.0 and each started in the secondary (LCB Rasul Douglas, SS Jarrod Harper and RCB Antonio Crawford). ILB Justin Arndt led the way with an 84.4 overall grade and ILB Al-Rasheed Benton accumulated a game-high five defensive stops.

Miami Hurricanes

Quarterback grade: Brad Kaaya, 58.4

Kaaya benefits from work after the catch

While Miami QB Brad Kaaya amassed 282 passing yards, 65 percent of his yardage was collected after the catch by his receivers. Regardless, Miami walked away with the bowl victory and Kaaya led the way by tossing four touchdown passes to four different receivers.


Top offensive grades:

RG Tyler Gauthier, 76.2
David Njoku, 75.4
Ahmmon Richards, 71.3
Alex Gall, 70.9
Malcolm Lewis, 68.9

Receivers key victory

TE David Njoku submitted another performance that should have NFL teams taking notice and true freshman WR Ahmmon Richards provided further evidence that he’s ready to lead the receiving group in 2017 and beyond. Richards displayed elite speed and agility weaving through traffic on a dig route to get the Hurricanes on the board midway through the second quarter. Njoku stiff-armed his way around the initial defender on a screen pass, raced 25 yards down the right sideline, and dove over another defender to reach the end zone to put Miami ahead by 21 in the third quarter.

Top defensive grades:
FS Rayshawn Jenkins, 86.2
Joe Jackson, 83.2
Jaquan Johnson, 82.7
Adrian Colbert, 79.9
Zach McCloud, 79.5

Speed advantage front-and-center

The Miami defense had an answer for everything the West Virginia coaching staff threw at them. The Hurricanes limited Mountaineers running backs to 2.4 yards per attempt and much of that success came from the work of edge rusher Joe Jackson (83.0 run-defense grade). FS Rayshawn Jenkins posted the highest overall grade by a safety from all 2016 bowl games played to date thanks to earning an 87.7 pass-coverage grade.

| Analyst

Wes is an analyst and fantasy correspondent at Pro Football Focus. He's been with the company since 2014, and his work has been featured on DraftKings Playbook and FantasyPros.

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