It’s time to preview the team that isn’t a rival but everyone likes to hate just as much anyway. That’s right it’s time to analyze the Miami Hurricanes, who just like their namesake are built up beforehand only to leave the state of Florida disappointed as they fizzle out just as things seem to get good.
Series Record: Georgia Tech leads 13-12
Last Meeting: Georgia Tech 28 - Miami 21
2019 Season Review
Record: 6-7 (4-4)
The 2019 season had Miami looking at a new era with Mark Richt retiring and Miami luring former defensive coordinator, Manny Diaz, back from the shortest head coaching stint from Temple. Diaz was a respected defensive mind and knew the Miami landscape well, being a native son of the area. All things pointed to a possible Coastal title with such a talented roster, manageable schedule, and new coordinator hires that included the likes of Dan Enos from Alabama to run the offense. It was the offense though that ultimately lead to a season that would be considered a disaster by many Miami fans.
The start of the season was a back and forth match with Florida, but a young QB and offensive line allowed 10 sacks that prevented Miami from sustaining drives late in the game. Still, it was a tight game against a Top 10 team and the defense showed off its ability. Another close loss came against UNC before walloping Bethune-Cookman and a close win against Central Michigan. The next three games were the wake-up call that things weren’t going so well in Coral Gables. Virginia Tech jumped out to a 28-point lead before it dwindled with QB N’kosi Perry replacing Jarren Williams. Perry gave Miami its best offensive performance of the year but it fell just short as they couldn’t convert ten yards short of the end zone. A win against Virginia helped but the offensive woes showed again in a 17-9 win. Then a reeling Georgia Tech team made its way down to Miami, the only ACC team Paul Johnson never won on the road against. It turned out to be the first ACC win for Coach Collins at Tech. The game was ugly for both teams but Tech found some magic with defensive and special team scores while Miami missed several field goals within chipping range. The next three games saw Miami back on track with wins against Pitt, FSU, and Louisville. It ended in terribly though with a loss to FIU and Duke. It left Miami with a 6-6 record and a bid to the Independence Bowl where Louisiana Tech shut out the Hurricanes 14-0. A season that was meant to rebuild the glory days turned into a season that needed to rebuild its culture.
Key Players Departing
RB Deejay Dallas: Dallas was one of the few bright spots on the offense who finished with 693 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns. If not for a weak offensive line he could have broke 1000 yards but was still selected in the 4th round by the Seattle Seahawks.
WR KJ Osborne: A grad transfer from Buffalo who was the leading receiver in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. He provided sure hands for a young QB group and will be missed as the main threat downfield. He was selected in the 5th round by the Minnesota Vikings.
LB Shaq Quarterman: This is undoubtedly the biggest loss to the Canes this year. Quarterman has been the leader of the defense for the past three years with a total of 327 tackles and 11.5 sacks. His was an immense talent and was quite frankly taken later than he should have been in the 4th round of the draft.
DE Gregory Rousseau: Rousseau was a force on the defensive line with 15.5 sacks for the year which was second-most in the FBS. Any player who can rack up double-digit sacks will have coaches game-planning just for him. Except Rousseau has decided to-opt out of the 2020 season so those coaches can breathe easier.
Some other mentions are DE Jonathan Garvin (7th round Green Bay), WR Jeff Thomas, LB Michael Pinkney, LB Romeo Finley, CB Trajan Bandy, and SS Robert Knowles.
Players To Watch For
QB D’Eriq King: King was a top recruit and standout player at Houston before taking a self-declared redshirt season and transferring as a grad student to Miami. A lot of Miami’s troubles stemmed from poor decision making at quarterback but King could provide a huge boost with his play-making ability and experience. He tallied 4,656 yards passing with 49 touchdowns along with 1,383 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns. Most of that came during his Sophomore and Junior seasons.
OL Jarrid Williams: Williams also came along as a transfer from Houston. He will probably continue to play Right Tackle and help shore up a line that gave up 51 sacks last season.
K Jose Borregales: Yes, a kicker will be a key player because Miami would have a better record had its kicking game not been abysmal last year. Borregales actually transferred from FIU and kicked the game-winner against Miami. He has made 50 goals against 65 attempts with a long of 53.
RB Cam’Ron Harris: Harris was second to Dallas last year but still got in 114 carries for 576 yards and 5 touchdowns. He will be the primary ball carrier this year and should benefit greatly from improved line and quarterback play.
Miami should be better a football team overall this year but it may be a flip from last year’s team. The offense added key pieces through transfer and returns most of a young line who now has valuable playing experience. Though they lose starters at the receiver and running back positions there is proven depth behind them. The defense won’t be as dominant as it has in the past but that’s not to say it won’t be productive. The line returns some solid players and adds a few transfers. Linebacker will take the biggest hit and may struggle early which has been the foundation for this defense the past few years. The secondary will need to replace a few starters, but Miami has never struggled with getting top defensive backs.
There was talk last year of a toxic locker room with some players not giving enough effort and bad team chemistry. Quarterback Jarren Williams was one player mentioned who has since left the team. If the team can drown out the noise and put in the effort then it should be a top team in the ACC. Year 2 will show if Manny Diaz is the man to get Miami back on track.
Georgia Tech will have to make another trip to Hark Rock Stadium with the revised schedule. Both teams should have improved by the time they meet late in the season but I think Miami has addressed a lot of their holes through the transfer portal. King is going to be a problem to stop if the offensive line is clicking. In all, it should be a competitive and cleaner game than last year, but I give Miami the edge: 31-24.