The aftermath of the Clemson game left many thinking the ‘Canes were imposters yet again amongst the nation’s best teams. However, winning their next two conference games and building to a 5-1 record, Miami has slowly made their way back to the top ten after falling to 13th following the Clemson loss.
Moving forward, how do the Hurricanes matchup with similarly ranked teams? The answer seems to be ‘much better’ when compared to other recent Miami teams. Star quarterback D’Eriq King, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, and placekicker Jose Borregales are major reasons as to why the ‘Canes are improved, despite confidence in the system starting to turn doubtful.
Highest-graded QBs heading into Wk 9— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 31, 2020
1. Mac Jones, Alabama - 93.7
2. Zach Wilson, BYU - 93.2
3. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson - 91.3
4. Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma - 90.7
5. D'Eriq King, Miami - 89.1 pic.twitter.com/inMvDhePB3
Aside from this season, the last time Miami held near the top of the rankings for a significant amount of time was 2017. Similar to Miami’s recent win against Virginia, the ‘17 Hurricanes team barely snuck by inferior opponents and rode their defense to heart-pounding finishes. The factor that kept them from beating teams like Wisconsin and Pitt and making the College Football Playoff, however, was inconsistent quarterback play.
A lot of Malik Rosier's intangibles--which have helped carry him through some accuracy issues in 2017--just aren't coming into play today against Pitt.— Dave Miller (@Miller_Dave) November 24, 2017
It’s reasonable to suggest that D’Eriq King has been far from perfect, that the offense has started to sputter and Rhett Lashlee’s scheme appears a bit figured out. Regardless, it’s King’s leadership, maturity, and talent that puts this Miami team in a different category than 2017’s version.
Often the most overlooked area of a team has proven to be one of Miami’s best advancements of the season. The addition of Jose Borregales gives the ‘Canes a huge advantage in close games. Last season, Miami watched tight contests slip away due to placekicking troubles, an area that needed an urgent fix. Borregales is that, and more, even Manny Diaz commented on how he, “changed our team.”
Jose Borregales ties a Miami school record with a 57-yard field goal. In his second game as a Cane.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) September 20, 2020
So, with the quarterback, the scheme, and the kicker, Miami has improved since its Cinderella-esque run in 2017 and is far, far better than 2019’s edition. With all that being said, who in the top ten could Miami beat? Perhaps “beat” isn’t the right word, but compete with. Florida, BYU, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, and Texas A&M all seem like teams Miami could be in contention with, but speculation is just speculation.
What will validate this Hurricanes team is winning games like their next, a Friday night date on the road at NC State, or in the following week, a visit to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. If Miami plays to their strengths and executes solidly, they could have another chance against Clemson, or a shot at Notre Dame to prove that they’re truly one of the nation’s finest.