2019 was supposed to be the year that the Miami Hurricanes got their program back on track to restoring The U. With energetic and passionate first year head coach Manny Diaz at the helm, offensive coordinator Dan Enos coming over from Alabama, everyone was convinced 2019 would turn things around. We even created a hashtag for “The New Miami,” what could possibly go wrong?
However, it wasn’t winning games in 2019 that set UM on the right track, it was how poorly the year went. In what was perhaps the most discouraging season in Miami history, a 6-7 campaign, highlighted by a loss to FIU, and a 14-0 defeat to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl, it was exactly what this program needed.
It’s sad to see there is no talent difference between the Canes and LA Tech.— Colin McCarthy (@COLINMcCARTHY52) December 26, 2019
On that horrific afternoon against the Bulldogs in late December, it became clear to coach Diaz that significant changes needed to be made, as he realized what fans like myself had known for years, that this program had fallen.....hard.
Yep, Miami’s final three games were losses to FIU, to a Duke team which had lost 5 straight entering the game and a shutout at the hands of Louisiana Tech in the bowl game. Just needed to double check that.— Chris Fallica (@chrisfallica) December 27, 2019
Trust me, I'm the biggest Hurricanes fan on the planet, but I'm the first to admit that we have a certain cockiness at Miami, a false sense of reality. Every year, we all assume that just because of the U on our helmet, we can walk out there and beat anybody. But sometimes, it takes the most humbling of seasons or individual losses to realize something needs to be done. For LSU, it was losing to Troy at home in 2017. For Alabama (pre Saban era) and USC (pre Pete Carroll era), it was years of futility and five-to-six loss seasons.
LSU had won 49 straight nonconference home games.— ESPN (@espn) October 1, 2017
Troy was not interested in such streaks. pic.twitter.com/5SWeYCSmtU
For Miami, it was losing to Louisiana Tech. UM has suffered through plenty of other miserable years prior to 2019, but last season was the reality check that finally got through to the entire program.
In past years, head coaches like Al Golden and Mark Richt failed to make necessary changes, resulting in continual underachieving seasons. With Golden, it was the inability to get rid of defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio.
Golden didn't change after 4 1/2 years. D'Onofrio lasted 5 https://t.co/hWcimD44yI— rOmaN (@Romancane) December 27, 2019
And as for Richt, it was not firing his son, Jon, at the position of quarterback coach, or not being humble enough to give up play-calling duties. Need I say more?
Mark Richt retiring is the best for all parties. Coach didn’t really want to give up play calling, or fire anyone, but we all knew it had to happen.— John Michaels (@JohnMichaelsU) December 30, 2018
Time to move on and hire someone who fits the #Canes
Young, fiery and innovative. No more retreads, or safe hires
If either of those coaches had made certain changes, who knows what this team might’ve accomplished.
For a first year head coach, it’s hard to let go of your assistants after just one year. Ed Orgeron did it after his first season as HC for LSU, firing OC Matt Canada following 2017. He replaced Canada with Steve Ensminger in 2018, added passing-game coordinator Joe Brady in 2019, and won a national championship.
Ed Orgeron said he wanted to go to the spread in 2017 and was going to hire Lane Kiffin, but Kiffin got hired at FAU.— Shea Dixon (@Sheadixon) December 2, 2019
Decided to hire Matt Canada, but Orgeron said he knew he had to move back to Steve Ensminger for 2018.
LSU's gone 28-5 with Ensminger as OC.
Diaz followed in the footsteps of Orgeron, getting rid of Dan Enos, and unlike past Miami head coaches, who went with one pro-style offensive mind after the other, he went out and hired Rhett Lashlee, master of the spread-offense and up-tempo attack.
Lashlee is not the answer to ALL the problems this team has.— rOmaN (@Romancane) January 4, 2020
Lashlee however is the style of offense this team has needed for about a decade. https://t.co/Dp17NcjzqQ
Last season, you could say Diaz didn’t do enough due-diligence when putting together his staff on offense. Dan Enos? Quarterbacks coach from Alabama? He coached Tua? Sounds great. But alas, he learned his lesson in 2020.
Look. Manny dove into the deep end and went after a dude who was just given the OC gig at Alabama. He also had an offer from Georgia. And that’s awesome!— Scoop (@scoopontheU) January 11, 2019
My issue is they both run Pro. They both have the talent to do it. Schematically I don’t like the hire.
Prove me wrong.
It wasn’t just Lashlee either, Diaz made two more hires on offense this year that I believe was a huge step in the right direction. Added to the offensive staff was o-line coach Garin Justice, and wide receivers coach Rob Likens, two guys who have play-calling and OC experience, as well as being familiar with the spread offense.
Reminder on the offensive side of the ball on this Miami staff that Rhett Lashlee, Rob Likens, and Garin Justice have all been OC’s before! When you talk the same language, the team will follow.— Left Coast Cane (@IbisUM84) June 7, 2020
With the exception of Brad Kaaya and Stephen Morris, the quarterback position at Miami has been abysmal since 2003. Last year, the arrival of Tate Martell was supposed to be the answer to our prayers, though he wasn't. UM very well could’ve stuck with what they got for 2020 at QB with Martell or N’Kosi Perry, or even entertaining the thought of starting true freshman Tyler Van Dyke, but they didn’t. Diaz and Miami snagged D’Eriq King, a type of quarterback talent the Hurricanes have never had, and more importantly, a QB who is proven at the college level.
So D'Eriq King announces he will transfer to Miami. Immediately eligible. Difficult to overstate significance of this move. Pro Football Focus' 2nd rated QB in 2018, behind Kyler Murray. A true impact player at the position.— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) January 20, 2020
In 2019, Miami had arguably the worst offensive line in college football, literally unable to stop defenders from getting to the quarterback at times. Instead of rushing true freshman Zion Nelson into gaining weight and starting at left tackle like in 2019, Diaz and his staff landed Jarrid Williams, a proven tackle who Canes fans can be confident in.
Jarrid Williams played over 500 pass-blocking snaps for Houston and only allowed 13 pressures all season. pic.twitter.com/FpRoCyyw5n— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 5, 2019
The lack of a winning culture and championship mentality has been a problem at Miami for years, so Diaz made one of the biggest moves in program history, hiring Ed Reed as the football programs Chief of Staff. As an advisor to coach Diaz, the Hall of Famers presence alone, is something that has been needed in the Hecht Center for a long, long, LONG time. Reed was a national champion at Miami, he won a Super Bowl with the Ravens, he knows what a winning locker room is supposed to feel like.
Ed Reed is back at The U.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) January 30, 2020
The Pro Football Hall of Famer, College Football Hall of Famer, University of Miami Hall of Famer and Super Bowl champion is the new chief of staff for the Hurricanes' football program.
The latest get in a huge offseason revamping for the Hurricanes.
Like I said before, sometimes you need to be knocked flat on your back, and take a good long look at the mirror, to realize something isn’t working. As hard as 2019 was to watch as a lifelong Miami fan, it had to happen, it was needed, and it was necessary. Now that we’ve made these moves, let’s go win.