There’s no doubting where the strength of the 2018 Miami offense lies. This year’s team has plenty of players with big-play potential; it’s only fair to expect some fireworks. From the starters to the rotation and depth players, down through the new comers, the success of the Hurricanes’ receiving talent likely has more to do with the team’s QB than its receivers.
Best Case Scenario
Ahmmon Richards has a season we couldn’t hope for in our wildest dreams. He dominates right from the jump, taking Greedy Williams to school in a precursor of what’s to come. He’s virtually unguardable thanks to a combination of speed, route-running and body control. All season Richards leads the WR corps and game in and out is the offense’s biggest and most consistent playmaker.
Richards’ dominance allows his fellow receivers to feast on single coverage, where Jeff Thomas rounds into a great WR2 with potential to be a no. 1 in 2019. Mike Harley and Lawrence Cager fill their roles in the slot and redzone respectively and the young guys like Brian Hightower and Mark Pope flash promise.
The entire group of receivers makes Malik Rosier’s job a lot easier and allows him to take what the defense gives him. In this case, it’s the wide receivers making the quarterback look good.
Worst Case Scenario
Richards’ injury bug hits again and he can’t remain healthy for the year. Whether out for the year or in and out of the lineup, he simply won’t have the chemistry with Rosier that is desired for the two to be successful, especially Rosier.
The injury to their top receiver means the rest of the wideouts’ production suffers. Jeff Thomas doesn’t prove himself a no. 1 type player in his sophomore year and Cager and Harley are spotty at best. Hightower and Pope aren’t quite ready, leading Richt to play guys like big but slow Darrell Langham.
Miami doesn’t have a receiver sniff 1,000 yards and without Braxton Berrios, no one takes control of the Richards-less group and the entire offense suffers badly.
Richards stays healthy and looks great, producing the best season in a long time by a Miami wide receiver. He isn’t quite undefendable but generally he gets the best of his match-ups. He could struggle against LSU’s Williams and Duke’s Mark Gilbert.
The rest of the receivers play well behind him, Jeff Thomas flourishes in his sophomore season and between himself and Richards, Rosier hits a lot more deep passes in 2018. Someone between Harley and Cager makes a big enough impact to grab a good-sized role, perhaps even a dark horse like one of the freshman. The third receiver may not go over 500 yards but makes an impact in the majority of Miami’s games.
The odd man out between Cager and Harley doesn’t get much work and players like Langham and Harris, who had small roles last season, have even smaller ones this year.