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3 Offensive Keys To Victory: Miami vs UAB

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Thursday will be the debut of new OC Rhett Lashlee and QB D’Eriq King.

Miami Hurricanes football practice Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

In the Miami Hurricanes first contest of the 2020 season against the UAB Blazers, it’ll also be the long-awaited debut of new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. With his exciting up-tempo spread offense, Lashlee looks to revive a Miami team that was near the bottom of college football in terms of offensive production last year, while he spent 2 seasons turning SMU into an offensive machine.

The Blazers will bring a plethora of defensive veterans into Hard Rock Stadium on Thursday night, so let’s check out some of the offensive keys to victory for the Canes in week-one.

  1. D’Eriq King

King is at the top of this list, obviously. Transferring to Miami from Houston in January of this year, King is the type of dual-threat quarterback that this program has never seen before. After months of waiting to see him, fans will finally get to watch King in action on Thursday.

With King directing the new Miami offense, all eyes will be on #1, not just by fans in the stands, but by the UAB defense as well. The Blazers know well how dangerous of a weapon King is, both as a passer and running the football. A defense that prides itself on bringing pressure, UAB will be blitzing King early and often, hoping they can contain him and not allow the electric QB the chance to scramble or set and find open receivers.

Although we’re all excited to see what King can do with his legs, hitting his receivers early will be crucial not just moving the ball downfield, but building up the confidence in his talented but unproven pass-catchers. Mark Pope, Mike Harley and Dee Wiggins are three guys I expect big things from this season, and that all starts on Thursday with King getting them the ball right from the start.

2. Miami’s Two Tackles

The Hurricanes offensive line was abysmal in 2019, but fans are hoping that the hiring of new OL coach Garin Justice will bring new life to the unit in 2020. On Thursday, two of the biggest names to know is right tackle Jarrid Williams, and left tackle John Campbell Jr. They’ll have the opportunity in taking on a ferocious UAB pass-rush, headlined by edge rushers Jordan Smith and Alex Wright.

Smith was tied for first on UAB in 2019 with 8 sacks and 3 forced fumbles, going along with 14.5 TFLs. As a freshman last season, Wright racked up 28 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 8.5 TFLs, and was named to the C-USA All-freshman team. In their first game against Central Arkansas last week, the two combined for 14 quarterback pressures.

It’s well documented how bad the o-line struggled last year for Miami, especially at left tackle. On Thursday, we get to see how much the unit has progressed, if Campbell is the answer at LT, and how big of an impact Williams can make for the Hurricanes.

3. Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory

UAB has several talented players at cornerback and in the secondary, so I see Miami using their talented tight end duo of Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory plenty against the Blazers in passing situations. UAB has playmakers on defense, no doubt, but they haven’t seen tight ends like these two yet. So I think Lashlee creating matchups with Jordan and Mallory against linebackers or smaller DB’s, could do serious damage for the Canes offense.

Mallory has the athleticism that makes him a nightmare to defend, and now that Jordan, one of the best tight ends in college football, is healthy, 2020 is the season fans are expecting the two-headed monster to unload on opposing defenses.

The Blazers have a stud at middle linebacker in Kristopher Moll, but he’s going to be tested against Miami if he’s asked to cover Jordan or Mallory. If Miami can make this a priority early on in the game, it’ll just open up more opportunities for the Hurricanes offense moving forward.