CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Mediocre.
Miami tight end Clive Walford paused a second before giving the one-word assessment his production to date. After heavy competition in August, the sophomore emerged as the top tight end in the passing game. But it's his battle with consistency that's typified the struggles of the Hurricane tight ends through six games.
Walford has 11 of the 15 catches made by his unit and 124 yards, but also had several costly drops. Against NC State, he let a sure touchdown pass through his hands for an interception. On the flip side, he had the two longest catches in Miami's two losses. A 56-yarder at Kansas State set up a Jake Wieclaw field goal while his 28-yard catch Saturday against Notre Dame put Miami in scoring position.
He's not satisfied, though. Not even close.
“It's not what I expected,” said Walford, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound target from Belle Glade. But, I mean, I feel like it could be going a lot better.”
A number of factors figure into tight end production in the passing game. Miami (4-2, 3-0 ACC) is spreading the ball around with seven different players catching at least 11 passes. North Carolina, the Hurricane opponent at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Sun Life Stadium, has only five with double-figure receptions.
The Tar Heels (4-2, 1-1 ACC) have Eric Ebron, the team's third-leading receiver, at tight end with 19 catches and 312 yards.
Coach Al Golden, a tight end at Penn State from 1987-91, doesn't work directly with that unit in practice but he'll speak up in the meeting room.
“To be honest with you, they're not grading out poorly,” Golden said. “We would just like to see them account for six or seven catches per week and we haven't got that. And I'm no different from you guys or the fans. I'd like to see that output from that position. I think Clive showed us on that (Notre Dame) play that he can be explosive and we have to continue to get him the ball more.”