The Hurricanes 2019 season left the legitimacy of a once powerhouse football program in a deep hole, finishing with a 6-7 record and embarrassing losses to FIU, Louisiana Tech, and Georgia Tech. However, with 20 new faces entering Miami’s foundation, fans are hopeful and excited that head coach Manny Diaz could take the Canes out of over a decade-long slump.
There are lots of if’s and but’s when predicting a successful season. I put together on what factors will downplay a strong or disappointing 2020 season.
Reasons Why The Canes Can Succeed
1. D’Eriq King
The former three-star recruit has had an impressive college football career so far, totaling 50 total touchdowns and a career completion percentage of 62%.
Miami has had incompetent quarterback play over the past decade. Last year, the Canes QB situation was a nightmare with freshman Jarren Williams and sophomore N’kosi Perry struggling to remain consistent as the season went on.
D’Eriq King fits perfectly into the offensive scheme that Miami Offensive Coordinator, Rhett Lashlee, will implement the 2020 football season. Lashlee led the SMU Mustangs to finish the 2019 campaign with a 10-2 overall record, totaling 3rd in the FBS in plays per game at 80.9 yards. King has the X-factor that all elite college football players have.
His mobility will be a significant impact for the undersized offensive linemen at Miami. With King’s elite speed and accurate arm, Miami can match up well against ACC Coastal opponents.
2. Lashlee’s Spread Offense
Rhett Lashlee is one of the top spread offense minds in college football. The U ranked 90th in team offense in 2019 under former OC Dan Enos, averaging 25.7 points per game. Miami took care of this horrifying offensive performance, hiring Lashlee as the Canes offensive coordinator.
Under Lashlee, SMU ranked 7th in team offense, scoring 41.8 ppg. If Rhett Lashlee can pile up similar numbers for the Hurricanes, they will cruise their way to the ACC Championship Game.
3. Strength and Conditioning
For the Hurricanes to compete, they must be in the best shape possible. A hard-working mindset must be engraved into the young men that play football for the University of Miami.
David Feeley, the strength and conditioning coach for Miami, has instilled this mindset into his players. Many players have bulked up through Feeley’s training methods. Two players that have shown drastic improvements in their physique are defensive linemen Gregory Rousseau and Jaelan Phillips.
Feeley has done a great job restoring the championship culture in Miami. If the returning and incoming players adapt to this culture, there’s no doubt in my mind that the Canes will have a great season.
4. Defensive Line
In 2019, the Canes ranked 23rd in team defense, giving up 20.1 points-per-game. Miami also finished No. 6 in sacks with 46. Together with redshirt freshmen Gregory Rousseau, who totaled 15.5 sacks in 2019, Jaelan Phillips, the former number one recruit in 2017, and Quincy Roche, the AAC Defensive Player of the Year, all on one team, Miami can be a force to be reckoned with.
Roche was acquired through the transfer portal this offseason after registering 36 solo tackles along with 13 sacks at Temple. As soon as Roche put his name in the transfer portal, he instantly spiked the interests of many universities. Luckily for Canes’ fans, he’ll be wearing orange and green in 2020.
Miami has a big 3 on the defensive line that can wreak havoc on opposing offensive linemen and quarterbacks. Miami increases their chances of making it to Bank of America Stadium, the location for the 2020 ACC Championship with the elite talent on the defensive end.
Reasons Why The Canes Can Fail
1. Offensive Line
The offensive line was a huge factor in the Canes’ lack of productivity rushing and passing the ball. Sure the Canes dealt with injuries towards the end of the season, but there is no excuse for the inconsistent pass protection throughout the entire season. The OL struggled immensely in run blocking, placing 120th in rushing offense. Also, the Canes gave up 51 sacks in 2019 (third-most in the nation).
Miami has realized this issue and replaced former OL coach, Butch Barry, with current OL coach, Garin Justice. Justice was the former OC at UNLV for the past two seasons. Here’s what HC Manny Diaz had to say about Justice: “He boasts an extensive and impressive background as a position coach, coordinator and head coach, and we’re looking forward to seeing him work with our offensive linemen.”
Justice sounds like a good hire for the U, but there haven’t been any additions to the OL. The real concern for the Hurricanes is the depth chart. Most of the back-ups are young and inexperienced, which is a recipe for disaster. It is highly unlikely that the OL will do a full 180, therefore, they’ll be a liability for the Canes in 2020.
2. Newly Acquired Coaches
Miami has brought in several coaches that have credible resumes that are well capable to do the job and lead Miami to success, right? At the end of the day, fans don’t know what will happen until the 2020 season arrives. Canes fans had high expectations for Dan Enos and look how that turned out. It might take a while to see improvements fans are expecting.
With all the new additions to the team, it hurts the overall chemistry. As a Miami Hurricane fan myself, I hope that all these coaches we have acquired are a big step in the right direction. The fact of the matter is, when you have new coaches it takes a while for players to get used to their system, plays, attitude, etc.
Last offseason, fans were ecstatic about the new coaches that were hired and expected immediate success. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out the way they planned and there is a possibility that it can happen in 2020.
Michael Pinckney and Shaquille Quarterman declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, is a huge hit defensively for the Canes. Thankfully, Zach McCloud will be back since he redshirted last season. Surely, McCloud will be the glue that holds this defense together in 2020. Other than McCloud, there are a lot of question marks for the “Mike” and “Sam” positions.
McCloud will be a key defensive player due to his experience and his NFL attributes, however, the Canes have some inexperienced players that will have to step up to the plate. Two players that the coaching staff has spoken highly of are 6’3 redshirt freshman, Avery Huff, and 6’2 sophomore, Sam Brooks. Although the future is bright for these young men, both of them combined have played a total of 3 games.
The linebackers have to take some of the pressure off of McCloud or else they’ll turn out to be the Achilles heel of the Miami Hurricanes 2020 defensive campaign.
4. Same Offseason Hype, Different Season
The Miami Hurricanes have cemented themselves as one of the most decorated and successful football programs in NCAA history. They have 5 national championships (1983, 1987, 1989, 1991, 2001), 2 Heisman Trophy Winners, and 9 College and Pro Football Hall of Famers. However, since the 2005-06 season, Miami has plummeted to mediocrity and it has been that way ever since.
The truth hurts, doesn’t it? The Canes have been stagnant for the past 14 years. Every year fans have been disappointed in their Miami Hurricanes. What makes 2020 any different? The Canes have had the same false hope and hype every offseason. Will 2020 place the Hurricanes back into relevancy? Or will 2020 be the birth of another decade of mediocrity?