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Miami Hurricane Football Madness

Which position group will be the most productive in 2018?

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

It’s March, Spring is in the air, and the Madness is in full swing with College Basketball’s “Big Dance”. With the frenzy of bracketology, picking ‘Cinderellas’, predicting upsets and wishing my bracket didn’t fall apart after the first round, I’m in full tournament mode. Since Canes Hoops were “1 and done” I decided to move all that built up bracket energy to Canes Football. With Spring practice on the horizon (Tuesday, March 20th), I began to wonder what better way to decide which position group will be the most productive in 2018 than to put them in a “survive and advance” tournament. I welcome you to Hurricane Football Madness. Get ready to complete your bracket.

Setup: The bracket is split into halves with 10 different position groups from the offense, defense and special teams. Based on fan votes and opinions, each group will compete head to head to determine who we think will be the most valuable and productive group in the 2018 season. Representing the defensive side of the ball we have the Defensive Line (DL), Linebackers (LB), Defensive Backs (DB) and Special Teams-Def (Kickoff, Punt and Field Goal coverage). On offensive side of the ball you have the Quarterbacks (QB), Running Backs (RB), Offensive Line (OL), Tight Ends (TE), Wide Receivers (WR) and Special Teams-Off (Punt Return, Kick Return and Field Goals).

The Bracket: The position group seeding is based on last year’s statistics and everyone’s favorite, “the eye test”. This can result in a possible “upset” with key contributors for certain position groups graduating, declaring for the NFL draft or unfortunately, medically retiring. In addition, the Storm 18 recruiting class is poised to have immediate impact players on both sides of the ball and special teams.

MIAMI HURRICANE MADNESS

Donovan Hutchins

The Seeding: Why are they here:

The #1 Seeds:

Wide Receivers - Despite having their #1 target, Ahmmond Richards, hobbled for the majority of the season, this group used a collective effort approach to production with 6 WRs catching TDs. The front runner of this group was Braxton Berrios (679 Yds/9 TDs) who used his senior season as a coming out party. This group also contributed to multiple memorable moments with spectacular game winning/saving catches by Darrell Langham and others. Even when they weren’t catching the ball, they continually blocked downfield in the run game, and even on bad balls you could see the speed of slot WR Jeff Thomas and Mike Hartley impacting the game.

Defensive Line - The hurricanes ended the season ranked 4th in tackles for loss and 1st in sacks. This effort was spearheaded by the men in the trenches up front. In addition to the numbers they put in the stat sheets, their upfront performance made the lives of the those behind them considerably easier by eating up run blocks and putting consistent pressure on the quarterback. Going into 2018, they will need to replace a lot of production upfront with 3 Defensive Tackles leaving as well as DE Chad Thomas. The 2018 rotation will feature a mix of young guys (Jonathan Ford, Jonathan Gavin and Nesta Silvera) and old guys (Joseph Jackson, Demetrius Jackson and Gerald Willis III) to go along with a new D-Line Coach, Jess Simpson.

The #2 Seeds:

Tight Ends - This group was mostly a one man show with Christopher Herndon IV, but he was very productive ending the season ranked #2 in yds, TDs and catches. His value was felt after he went down for the season late in the year. With Herndon going to the next level, the TE position will be young but talented with top ranked TEs in the 2018 class #3 Brevin Jordan and #19 Will Mallory set to start their UM careers. Redshirt Soph Michael Irvin II will also be looking for an increased role this year.

Running Backs – This group entered the 2017 season thin, but with a proven workhorse in Mark Walton. After his injury, Travis Homer and converted WR DeeJay Dallas provided a formidable 1, 2 punches with Homer coming 34 yards short of the 1K mark. In 2018, this group will enter with a lot more depth and talent with 5 Star Lorenzo Lingard and 4 Star Cam’ron Davis into the fold as potential immediate impact players.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The #3 Seeds:

Linebackers - This was a solid group all year even with the backups. Now we have the addition of the New Bermuda Triangle of Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zack McCloud who were number 2, 3 and 7 in total tackles last year in their second year. Now in their Junior campaigns, they will look to take their game to the next level and should be the anchor of the defense.

Special Teams (Off) – This group was led by the Canes all-time leading field goal maker in Michael Badgley. This season he scored 96 points on 74% on FGs and 98% on XPs and a game beautiful game winner vs Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the pouring rain. The main contributor was Berrios on punt return and while he seldomnly provided that electric play, his sure-hands ensured the Canes had an opportunity on offense every time. With both of these players graduating, the stage is set for incoming freshman Bubba Baxa to take over kicking duties and for someone to set themselves apart as a returner between Jeff Thomas, DeeJay Dallas and a slew of others.

Nebraska v Miami Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The #4 Seeds:

Quarterbacks - If seeding was based solely on “2nd half” Rosier, this position would be a #1 seed, but if it was “1st half” Rosier then they would have missed the NIT tournament. Much like 2017, the story line of the 2018 season will be who wins the quarterback position. But, let’s not forget that Rosier holds the Canes record for TDs in a season and will be looking to close his final season on top despite the talented young guns behind him. May the best man win.

Defensive Backs - I wanted to rank this group higher given that they were ball hawks accounting for 18 turnovers (14 INT/4 FR) but while they feasted on the turnovers and the chain that came with it, they all too often made mediocre QBs look like first round draft picks late in the season. Just ask PITT, UVA, WISC and Clemson.

The #5 Seeds:

Offensive Line - This group had its ups and down, but their seeding is mostly based on the staggering fact that during short yardage 3rd downs they couldn’t get the push up front to convert. While this group is losing Senior KC McDermott and Trevor Darling, they have some young talent headlined by Navaughn Donaldson and incoming freshman Kia-Leon and some older yet to be proven transfers in George Brown and Venzell Boulware. If this group is the most valuable, it will be a great year in 2018.

Special Teams (Def) - This group left a lot to be desired at times. The best special teams play is when you don’t mention it, but all too often bad punts and kick offs out of bounds were the topic of conversation. This is not to put all the blame on the kickers, but the coverage wasn’t all that spectacular. In 2018, Feagles can use his freshman year as a spring board, and with the Canes adding talent across the board they will have more skilled bodies to support special team defense. I suspect this group to be more of a footnote than the topic of conversation this year.

What position group do you have leading the way for the Canes in ROUND 1?

Poll

#4 DBs VS #5 O-Line

This poll is closed

  • 84%
    DB
    (374 votes)
  • 15%
    O-Line
    (68 votes)
442 votes total Vote Now

Poll

#2 TEs VS #3 Special Teams (Off)

This poll is closed

  • 79%
    TE
    (349 votes)
  • 20%
    ST-Off
    (90 votes)
439 votes total Vote Now

Poll

#2 RBs VS #3 LBs

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    RB
    (174 votes)
  • 60%
    LB
    (266 votes)
440 votes total Vote Now

Poll

#4 QBs VS #5 Special Team (Def)

This poll is closed

  • 73%
    QB
    (322 votes)
  • 26%
    ST-Def
    (117 votes)
439 votes total Vote Now