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Why Louisville Will Be Manny Diaz’s Most Important Game Of His Early Head Coaching Career

Michael Laughlin, Sun Sentinel

For the past few seasons, we’ve seen what happens when the Miami Hurricanes start their season off on the wrong foot.

Since 2014, the Canes have lost to its first ranked opponent in 5 of the last 6 seasons, starting with No. 24 Nebraska and most recently against No. 8 Florida in 2019.

Excluding 2017, Miami’s struggles early on set a repetitive chain of issues that would damage them throughout the rest of the season.

Attempting to put a hold on that cycle, Miami meets No. 18 ranked Louisville in Week 2 of their 2020 campaign, unarguably their toughest battle before they take on No. 1 Clemson on October 10.

Seemingly just an intense game for UM in the eyes of others, I see it as the most difficult task of Manny Diaz’s early heading coaching career.

For starters, Diaz and the Canes sit as the No. 17 ranked team in country, a spot that the Miami native has never experienced as a head coach. An opportunity to hold that position for another week or so opens the door for a pleasing start and a difficult road ahead.

Taking down the Cardinals would only boost the moral’s of players and coaches for their upcoming matches against long-time rivals Florida State and the top-ranked Tigers.

To put it into simpler terms, a win on Saturday has the capabilities to make or break their efforts at a successful season. While it won’t solidify that from happening, the past deems to say so.

On the recruiting end, it would be the first time in a long time that UM commits and targets would see them hold a comfortable position in the Top 25 rankings. Considering that many of Miami’s recruits possess offers and interests from big-time Power 5 programs, a pleasing spot in the polls would mean so much.

Especially against Louisville, who have taken some of South Florida’s top prospects, a hometown pipeline that UM has dominated.

From Lamar Jackson, Teddy Bridgewater and Tutu Atwell Jr., among others, those types of special talents have slipped past Miami and landed in the hands of the Cardinals. Even in the 2021 class, Louisville has already garnered 4 commits — Rance Conner, Derrick Edwards, RJ Sorensen, Ashton Gillotte — from the South Florida area.

So to put that into simpler terms, too, a victory gives Miami a recruiting pitch like no other.

Saturday’s primetime is all about making a statement.

Michael Yero covers all of South Florida’s major pro teams, along with high school sports for 305 Sports. He also covers sports for Immaculata-La Salle High School’s student newspaper, the Royal Courier.

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