It’s plain and simple, Miami has a championship-caliber defense and Defensive Coordinator on its hands. Manny Diaz had his work cut out for him coming into this season after losing impactful players such as RJ McIntosh, Kendrick Norton, and Chad Thomas. This season’s output proved to be even better than last year’s though, as ‘Canes are still ranked #2 in total defense. Sadly, Miami’s offense is a light-year behind, but we can only hope for changes and that Mark Richt is able to put the pieces together in the near future. Regardless, Miami’s defense is one of the nation’s best and has been their most reliable unit all season long.
Miami beat Florida State for the 2nd consecutive season in dramatic fashion -- scoring 21 unanswered points in the 2nd half and hanging on to a 1-point victory. N’Kosi Perry threw 4 touchdowns in his toughest test of the season -- looking like a seasoned starter throughout the 3rd and 4th quarters. After dropping 7 straight games to the ‘Noles until 2017, dishing-out a heartbreaker to Florida State will always be a highlight regardless of the season’s conclusion.
Blowing Out North Carolina
Miami’s defense scored 3 times and forced 6 turnovers in their dismantling of North Carolina. The Tar Heels are a Coastal team that has given Miami fits over the past decade, most famously when Marquise Williams paid the ultimate disrespect to the U in 2015. Last season’s meeting between the two programs was closer than most expected, but Miami was able to come away with a victory by forcing a North Carolina fumble late in the 4th quarter. However, this year’s contest was far from a nail-biter, as Miami scored 33 unanswered points -- cruising to a 47-10 victory.
The Development of N’Kosi Perry
Hurricane fans had been calling for Perry ever since the end of the 2017 season -- their wishes were (finally) granted when Malik Rosier was benched in Miami’s contest against FIU. N’Kosi Perry’s upside was immediately displayed as the offense seemed rejuvenated with him at the helm. As the season has progressed, it’s obvious that he isn’t perfect, but that he is a quarterback with great potential. Despite being involved in some concerning antics and making an occasional ‘rookie’ mistake, he’s still Mark Richt’s best shot at reaching 8 wins on the year.
Heading into their Pinstripe Bowl matchup against Wisconsin, Miami has a chance to gain solid momentum heading into the off-season. If we look past the turmoil for just a second, we can see that this year’s campaign has contained some enjoyable things, and it’s important to appreciate the positives sometimes. Yes, this season has been disappointing; but a bowl win, and ending the season on a 3-game win streak could be just what the ‘Canes need to get back on track.