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Mike Harley And Dee Wiggins Stepping Up At Receiver For Miami

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These two receivers have been huge for Miami’s offense

NCAA Football: Louisville at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past two games, the Hurricanes passing offense has been extremely proficient under quarterback Jarren Williams. In the two weeks, Williams has thrown for 565 yards and eight touchdowns. Five of those touchdowns and 308 of those yards have gone to receivers Michael Harley and Dee Wiggins, who have emerged as two of the Canes most prolific receivers.

Coming into the season, it was expected that Harley would take a big leap as 2019 would be his junior year. His speed and explosive play ability were shown at times the previous two seasons, and many were hoping that he’d start doing it on a more consistent basis.

Harley came into the season with just 30 career catches, 331 receiving yards and zero touchdowns.

Wiggins spent his freshman season of 2018 in and out of Miami’s starting lineup, and saw plenty of playing time throughout the year. However, he only totaled seven catches with no touchdowns, and several drops had people questioning Wiggins. However, there was also much to be expected as he entered his sophomore season.

Harley was quick to become a focus for Miami’s offense early on in the season, snagging five passes for 79 yards against North Carolina in week two, and then scoring his first career touchdown the following week versus Bethune-Cookman.

Miami’s new offensive coordinator Dan Enos and his scheme has worked perfectly with Harley’s speed and ability to get into space. The same goes for Wiggins, whose speed was showcased in that Bethune-Cookman game when his number was called not on a pass, but rather on a jet sweep.

As the games went along, both receivers had their moments where they contributed heavily to Miami’s passing attack. Wiggins had a then career day against Virginia Tech with N’Kosi Perry at quarterback, where he finished with four catches and 64 yards. Harley was similar, consistently grabbing 3-4 receptions per week.

There were several reasons why they weren't putting up bigger numbers at receiver. One is because Miami has a few weapons catching passes for whoever is quarterback, whether it be fellow WR’s Jeff Thomas or Mark Pope, or tight end Brevin Jordan. Also, it didn’t help that there was inconsistency at the quarterback position, plus poor offensive line play.

However, the two were needed even more when receiver Brian Hightower announced he’d be entering the transfer portal following Miami’s loss to Georgia Tech in late October.

Since then, Harley and Wiggins have filled that void, and then some. It started two weeks ago when the Canes were in Tallahassee taking on rival Florida State. Late in the second quarter, and on 3rd-and-4, Williams found Harley deep down FSU’s sideline on a beautiful play for 34-yards. That gain set up the Hurricanes second touchdown of the game, and put UM up 14-3. Though it was Harley’s only catch of the day, it was one of the biggest for Miami.

It was Wiggins, however, who made perhaps the game’s biggest play. In the fourth quarter and clinging to a 17-10 lead, Williams hit Wiggins in stride for a 56-yard touchdown that game Miami the momentum they needed to finish off the Noles. It was Wiggins first career touchdown, and he finished the day with four catches for 74 yards.

Then this past weekend against Louisville, the two receivers upped it to another level. Wiggins and Williams hooked up on the deep ball again, this time for 67-yards on the Hurricanes first play of their second drive.

He wasn’t finished however, as he again found the end zone in the second quarter, as Williams fired it in for a 10-yard touchdown. Wiggins ended the day with three catches, with a career high of 85 yards and two scores.

Just like Wiggins, Harley turned in a career day himself. He got going quickly for Miami’s offense on their first drive, including a 41-yard slant that he took deep into Cardinals territory. In the third quarter, Williams again hit Harley on a simple slant patter, which #3 then broke a couple tackles on his way for a 31-yard touchdown.

Amazingly, just a few minutes later in the third quarter, Harley was in the end zone again. Williams thew it perfectly to the junior receiver for the score. It was Williams’ sixth TD pass of the day, which set a new Miami record. Harley ended the afternoon with six catches, for a career high 116 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Harley is currently third on UM for receptions (34) and second for receiving yards (447). Wiggins is fifth on the Canes for catches (16) and yards (314), though he is highest for yards per reception (19.6) for those over 10 catches. Both Harley and Wiggins are tied for third with three touchdowns.

The evolution of Wiggins and Harley couldn't have come at a better time either. With Hightower gone, and Thomas possibly leaving for the NFL after this season, the Canes will need these two in the future. It’s also coming as Miami’s offense is hitting its peak for 2019, as well as the peak for Williams at quarterback. Let’s hope this passing connection continues its destruction of defenses.