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Are The Miami Hurricanes Ready to Compete for the Playoffs?

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How a Diaz, Lashlee, King led Miami Hurricanes team stacks up against the Best

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Orange Bowl-Alabama vs Oklahoma
How a Diaz, Lashlee, King led Miami Hurricanes team stacks up against the Best
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes have a chance, for the first time since 2004, to be a complete team. The Hurricanes will be coupling a perennially great defense with what hopes to be a resurgent offense, led by new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. The bell has finally been answered, schematically, offensively and defensively, answering the fan outcry for a fast defense and a modern offense. On paper, this speaks to recipe for a return to prominence for the much-maligned Miami Football program. But what is the recipe for team success and how close is Miami to this recipe?

No surprise - Great Defense. Great Offense. Talent. QB Play.

But HOW GREAT does a team need to reach certain levels of competitiveness?

Conference Level

Before a team can pop bottles in the VIP section of the College Football Playoff, you must FIRST enter the club. Since the inception of the CFP IN 2014, that club has almost exclusively consisted of the top 2 two teams from each conference. The exceptions are Ohio St and Notre Dame, who were voted into the Playoffs without being in a conference championship.

During this era, since 2014, the top two teams in each conference ranked, on average, 28th on Offense and 27th on defense.

However, if we split off the champions of this group and look exclusively at the teams that were good enough to make their conference championship but lost, those averages lower to 41st on offense and 29th on defense. Only 2 teams of 60 teams ranked outside BOTH of those averages. Both came last year in Texas (47th offensively, 57th defensively) and Northwestern (100th and 41st, respectively).

And that Miami team that made it to the 2017 ACC game as the perennial Clemson sacrificial lamb? 59th on Offense, and 28th on defense, just barely sneaking in. (2019’s Sacrificial Lamb Virginia was 40th and 62nd)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 11 Notre Dame at Miami
The 2017 Miami team was 59th on Offense, and 28th on defense
Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Playoff Level

Once you are in the club, it becomes apparent quickly who belongs and who doesn’t. The next level of teams that went on to WIN their conference championship, or the exclusions that were included in the CFP, dramatically on the ranks of the also rans. For the championship teams, the averages on defense went up only slightly, from 29th overall to 26th. The noticeable difference was on offense, where the ranks jump from 41st to 16th.

It is here we begin to see a true change in the game of football over time as offense has become the separator between good teams and GREAT teams. of the 60 teams that qualified for Tier 1, all but 7 teams with a top 20 offense (31 teams total) topped their Conference. And of those 7 to not win, 5 lost out to a superior offense.

Championship Level

CFP National Championship - Alabama v Clemson
The 2016 Alabama team is the only team in CFP history to win without a premiere QB.
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

VIP! The Playoff Teams. Where the bottles have fireworks and everyone is trying to steal a

drink. This is where the rankings take a back seat to talent. As mentioned often by Managing Editor Cameron Underwood, the blue chip ratio is the key to being more than just a great team, but an ELITE team.

This is a massive point of separation between contenders and pretenders. This is the reason teams should always keep recruiting, stack great players and breed competition. Since 2014 there have been 30 College Football Playoff teams, and 26 of them have had a 52% blue chip ratio or greater.

Those 4 teams, however had the final and most important, KING SIZED quality.

A Heisman Contender at Quarterback.

  • 2014 Oregon - Marcus Mariota - 1st in Voting (Did God’s Work WHOOPING FSU)
  • 2015 Clemson - Deshaun Watson - 3rd in Voting
  • 2016 Washington - Jake Browning - 6th in Voting
  • 2017 Oklahoma - Baker Mayfield - 1st in Voting

Every Team to play for the College Football National Championship has had Heisman contending quarterback except for the 2016 Alabama team. They are also the only team to WIN without one.

What Does this Mean For Miami?

First things first.

On PAPER, the Miami Hurricanes football team has the ammo to, AT MINIMUM, to be a contender.

Lets apply this logic to the Canes. We would use the most recent versions of Diaz’s defense, Lashlee’s offense, our 2019 talent base and D’Eriq King’s most recent full season.

This would put us in the conversation for Playoff Level. The average ranks for a Playoff team over the life of the CFP are 4th on Offense and 26th on Defense. Miami would feature a 26th ranked defense, a 5th ranked offense, and a QB with 50 TDs. The only thing, on paper, that would hold us out of the Playoffs is a little team in Clemson, SC or SEC bias.

For all the heat his seat has gotten, Manny Diaz has always been elite at the twitter game. That apparently included hearing the fans overtures of a fast defense, a faster offense and grabbing an elite QB transfer (though I hope he truly DOES understand how to fix problems and isn’t simply just reading twitter). The boxes are checked across the board.

Houston v Tulane
A PRESEASON Heisman Contender at QB
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Once again, on paper, the Miami Hurricanes have the makings of major contender. The defense returns 7 starters. Quincy Roche, Jaelan Phillips and a talented linebacking core should step in as an exciting and athletically gifted group that should challenge for a legitimate top 10 status. The offense returns 9 starters, with one of those 9 supplemented by the injection of Heisman Hopeful D’Eriq King transferring from the University of Houston. This along with another top 20, hopefully top 15 class this year and the roster is arguably stronger than it has been since Manny Diaz has been in Miami, as head coach or defensive coordinator.