Last season Miami struggled mightily on offense (They ranked 104th out of 129 Division I programs for Total offense), but in 2019 Miami is poised to explode. With dynamic playmakers at every skill position, a proven quarterback developer and offensive mind shaping the playbook, and a new head coach rocking an overt “Miami attitude” this phase of the game should finally be fun to watch again.
The nation will get its chance to see the debut of “The New Miami” #TNM as the Hurricanes headline the kickoff of college football’s 150th season. ESPN will broadcast the Week 0 match up against the Florida Gators on August 24th, 2019 at 7pm. In order for Miami to secure a convincing win, each player on Miami’s offense will be expected to raise their level of play.
Now let’s take a closer look at each position group.
As mentioned in the OLine breakdown article I wrote previously, 11 of our current 14 offensive lineman are redshirt Sophomore’s or younger. With youth and inexperience across the line, Coach Barry needs to field the best 5 lineman regardless of their position. This position is critical to Miami’s success, and lineman will need to shuffle around until a fit is found. Coach Barry seemed to agree during the spring evaluation period.
My projected starters at OL: LT - Zion Nelson, LG - Cleveland Reed, C - Corey Gaynor, RG - Navaughn Donaldson, RT - Delone Scaife
Justification - I based my opinion here on prior contributions (Donaldson, Scaife, and Gaynor), spring lineups and staff feedback (Nelson), and a coin toss (Reed and Hillary).
Wow. What coach wouldn’t want to start his first season with a squad of running backs like this? Coach Eric Hickson has a stable of quality backs to choose from in Junior DeeJay Dallas, a vocal leader and the most productive returning back in rushing attempts (109), rushing yards (617), receptions (10), receiving yards (85), and rushing touchdowns (6); sophomore Lorenzo Lingard, a 5 star prospect that suffered a season ending knee injury in practice last season; sophomore Cam’ron Harris (formerly Cam’Ron Davis) who had a great second half of the season coming on after Lingard went down; and Robert Burns, a hulking back that has yet to fulfill his potential on the field due to injuries. Auburn transfer Asa Martin deserves an honorable mention, but due to NCAA transfer rules he will not be eligible to play this season.
My projected starter at RB: DeeJay Dallas
Justification - I based my opinion here on prior contributions, but with a new OC in charge of the reins don’t be surprised to see multiple backs on the field together to stress the defense beyond its capacity. The dynamics here are plentiful, and this group should be very productive this season.
As college teams look to spread the field and go vertical more often than not, not many options are left for fullbacks. Blocking, short yardage situations, and the occasional slip into the flats will likely be the go to for this position. Much remains to be seen about how Coach Enos will utilize the fullback position at Miami, but Realus George, Jr. and Michael Parrott are going to have to duke it out for the starting role.
My projected starter at FB: Realus (Booman) George, Jr.
Justification - With only two true fullbacks on the roster, the tie breaker for me was their measurables. Pops has 3 inches and several pounds on the older Parrott, and I believe that will come in handy as he fights to keep the offense moving down the field.
With an immensely talented and deep position group, Wide Receivers Coach Taylor Stubblefield will have his pick of size and speed to create mismatches against opposing defenses. This young, but gifted, receiving corps will be lead by Junior Jeff Thomas and Grad Transfer K.J. Osborn. As a Redshirt Senior, Osborn has brought his lunch pail and hard hat to Miami, and his work ethic is rubbing off on the other receivers. Mike Harley, Mark Pope, Brian Hightower, Dee Wiggins, Marshall Few, Evidence Njoku, and true freshman Jeremiah Payton will all see snaps this season. Payton has been consistent in his short time on campus, and Coach Stubblefield will likely call his number early and often.
My projected starters at WR: Z - Jeff Thomas, X - K.J. Osborn, Slot - Mike Harley
Justification - I based my opinion here on prior contributions and leadership potential. Upperclassman balling provides leadership where it matters, especially when there is so much talented youth at the position. Expect many differing formations, and receivers lining up at multiple positions throughout a game, to cause matchup problems for opponents. #Scheme
Sophomore Brevin Jordan, who earned second-team All-ACC honors last season, will look to get back on the field after hyperextending his knee in practice this spring. He was a force to be reckoned with last season as the teams second leading receiver with 32 catches and 4 TD’s. His main competition will be fellow Sophomore Will Mallory, who is poised for a breakout year.
Tight ends Coach Stephen Field has raved about Mallory this spring, so I expect that the “two headed monster” will have significant roles in the offense this coming season. Rounding out a very talented position group are Michael Irvin II and Brian Polendey who are both looking to make an impact this season as each was injured for a majority of the season last year. While all of the returning tight ends are working their way back from injury last season, Jordan has remained relatively healthy out of that group by only missing 1 game last season. Freshman Larry Hodges joined the fray last week, but I am projecting him to play minimal, if any, snaps this season. There's just too much depth at the position for him to actually see the field.
My projected starter at TE: Brevin Jordan
Justification - Brevin was our all everything TE last season as a true freshman, earning All ACC 2nd team honors (could have easily been 1st team), and there is no reason to believe he won’t be equally as productive again this season. How can you project ANYONE else here?
There have been few positions that evoke the type of arguments I've seen on twitter like the quarterback position at University of Miami. Objectively speaking, none of the potential starters has separated themselves from the pack with enough ferocity for Coach Manny Diaz to name a starter coming out of spring evaluations. Honestly, even if one had, I doubt the staff would call it this soon. This is a position group that is going to battle into the fall, and I have no problem with that. Miami has needed true competition on Greentree for some time at the QB position, but for any number of reasons (sanctions, staff, etc) it hasn't materialized. Until now.
N’Kosi Perry - Returning with the most experience under his belt, N’Kosi has a cannon on his shoulder, and wheels that can get him to the next level. Expect him to go down swinging in this battle as he has the goods, but the question is has he matured enough, on and off the field, to be the man?
Jarren Williams - The protege has the highest ceiling of the group, but has not put together a consistent enough performance for the staff to label him as the one. Yet. He is a pure passer with great accuracy, and this is vital to being a Quarterback and not just a ball thrower.
Coach Enos went through touch drills with the QB’s recently and explained the importance of the two in the video below.
Tate Martell - The talented OSU transfer didn't have a good showing for the first half of spring evaluations, but was able to close the period out strong. The best runner of the “Big Three”, Tate has the killer instinct and moxy most fans want to see out of their starting QB. His limited experience under center is a hindrance, but nothing disqualifying.
With these notes expressed, I had to make a decision. I feel like I made the best decision available under the circumstances, and with the information that is available at this time.
My projected starter at QB: N’Kosi Perry
Justification - N’Kosi has the most experience of the three quarterbacks seeing action in 11 games (6 starts) last season, he threw for 13 TD’s with 6 INT’s, and was ranked as the “Best Red-Zone QB” by Pro Football Focus in 2018. PFF had this to say about his red zone play:
There have been 92 FBS quarterbacks to attempt at least 25 passes inside the red zone and Perry tops them all in grade inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. While he’s been subjected to three dropped passes in the red zone (something that is a common occurrence this year for the Hurricanes), he’s thrown for an adjusted completion percentage of 61.5 percent and 11 of his 13 completions have been for a touchdown. He’s not been afraid to push the envelope with his throws, showing off his arm strength into tight red-zone windows yet he’s taken care of the ball admirably and not made a single turnover-worthy play in the red zone this year.
The last sentence is a good synopsis of N’Kosi’s play in clutch situations, and exactly what I want to see at the helm. Perry has wised up and dropped the off field shenanigans that have plagued him in the past, and he is exhibiting the leadership, maturity, and consistency necessary to earn the privilege of starting at quarterback for the Miami Hurricanes.
Overall, I welcome the best man at each position to take the field for each game. No seniority. No favorites. No gimmes. This is big time football, and it requires preparation, scheming, and calculated gambles.
I’ve made mine, so now its your turn. How do my projections compare against yours?
Let me know in the comments below, but justify your picks.