We are less than one month from the opening of college football with the primetime matchup between our beloved Miami Hurricanes, and the hated Florida Gators. This off-season has been full of change for Miami. Mark Richt retired and Manny Diaz was hired as the Head Coach. Most of the coaching staff was turned over, and a new attitude emerged as The New Miami. The transfer portal has allowed Miami to add a bunch of talent, and has helped return optimism to Coral Gables. That optimism can be turned into the same old story from the past 15 years if the play on the field doesn’t change immediately. We all know the story of 2018, preseason number 8, blown out by LSU, and a disappointing 7-6 season followed. It is imperative that the Canes fix some of the issues that ailed them in 2018.
The Biggest Areas That Need To Be Better
- QB Play – The struggles from 2018 are well documented, and must improve for the team to succeed in 2019. N’Kosi Perry was the Spring MVP, but he will be pushed throughout fall camp by Jarren Williams and transfer Tate Martell. Whoever wins the job must be ready for a huge opener against Florida, and shouldn’t be looking over their shoulder at the first sign of trouble. Judging by previous Dan Enos disciples, a season of 3000 yards passing, 25 plus TD passes and less than 10 interceptions shouldn’t be too much to ask.
- O-Line Continuity – A year ago Miami shuffled people along the offensive line looking for the right combination of players, but they never really found it in a lackluster season. There is plenty of talent along the front, but Butch Berry must find the right group, and keep them in the same positions as the year progresses. The talent is there with players such as Navaughn Donaldson and Delone Scaife Jr returning for another year. One big key will be which underclassmen emerges and plays up to their recruiting billing.
- Win the Games They Should Win – Florida, Florida St, Virginia and Virginia Tech are toss-up games, and if the Canes split these games the fan base should be OK. The problem has been losing to the likes of North Carolina, Duke, Georgia Tech and other teams that Miami should beat 9 out of 10 times. Miami must get back to Big East days of blowing out lower tier teams, and getting valuable playing time for 2nd and 3rd string players in the process.
- Don’t Let 1 become 2 – Miami has had a bad habit of letting one loss become two, or three. Through the last 15 plus years, the Canes would lose an emotional game, and that feeling would linger for another couple of weeks. That usually resulted in one of the losses to a lesser team that would train-wreck a season. How does Manny Diaz fix that? That is a million dollar question and why he is paid the big money to be Head Coach. Unfortunately I don’t think Miami will go undefeated, so when this is put to the test, the Canes must pass.
- Turnover Chain – I need to hear Solo D “Turnover Chain” blaring over the Hard Rock Stadium sound system a lot. In 2017 the Chain came out 31 times, which was the most for the Canes since 2003. That number dipped to 24 times in 2018, which isn’t a huge difference, but the magic of The Turnover Chain seemed to inspire Miami many times to victory. The defense must find a way to get that number closer to 30, and this time have the offense to capitalize on the other teams mistakes.
- Special Teams - Bubba Baxa was solid as a true Freshman going 45/46 on XPs 9/12 on FGs, and was decent kicking the ball off. Jeff Thomas was electric as a punt returner averaging 24.6 yards per return, with 1 TD. That was the good for 2018, but the bad/terrible was the punting game which constantly gave the opposition great field position with shank after shank. Enter internet sensation Louis Hedley, who arrives at 6’4” 215 lbs via Australia. If he can be average at worst, Miami will be much better on Special Teams.
The 2019 Miami Hurricanes are very talented, so expectations are high. I’ve already mentioned in previous article that anything less than an ACC Title Game appearance would be a failure. If they can fix the issues that have plagued them since 2003, then those goals should be attainable.
August 24th can’t get here soon enough! See you in Orlando.