Preview 2017: Miami Hurricanes

Preview 2017: Miami Hurricanes


Preview 2017: Miami Hurricanes


Preview 2017: Miami Hurricanes

Previewing and looking ahead at the Miami Hurricanes season – and what you need to know.

Contact @PeteFiutak

2017 Miami Preview: Will “The U” EVER Play For ACC Title?
2017 Miami Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Miami Previews: 2016 | 2015

What You Need To Know About The Miami Offense

Efficient, effective, and balanced, offensive coordinator Thomas Brown’s attack did a great job averaging 426 yards and 34 points per game. There’s reason to hope for even more production as long as the quarterback situation is figured out in a hurry.

The offense would be a killer if Brad Kaaya had returned for one more year, but there’s a talented trio to battle it out in his place. Malik Rosier is the veteran backup, Evan Shirreffs is the big passer, and N’Kosi Perry is the superstar recruit – all will get their chance to take over.

Leading receiver Stacy Coley is gone along with TE David Njoku, but Ahmmon Richards leads a good-enough receiving corps that won’t be a negative. They’ll be good, but the running game should be great, with Mark Walton and almost all of last year’s rushing production returning to a group that averaged 4.5 yards per carry.

Four starters are gone up front, but there are good options to fill in – even though there’s little depth to rely on now – and there was a good enough rotation to expect the production to continue. However …

Biggest Key To The Miami Offense

The running game has to always work. There wasn’t much happening on the ground in the bowl win over West Virginia – with just 81 yards – but the pinpoint passing game and the great performance from the defense overcame the issues. In the three other games Miami didn’t hit the 100 yard rushing mark, it lost.

Granted, the offense leaned on Kaaya and the passing game, but not being able to establish the ground attack mattered. Average four yards per carry, and there wasn’t a problem. Run into a brick wall – like the Canes did against Florida State, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame? Big problem.

What You Need To Know About The Miami Defense

The youth movement paid off. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz threw a slew of true freshman on the field and turned them loose – with tremendous results. With 37 sacks and 108 tackles for loss, the pressure came from everywhere. Now ten of the top 11 playmakers into the backfield return to what should be another amazing defense.

The linebacking corps made its share of mistakes, but it also was shockingly great under fire behind a great line that rocked up against the run for a D that finished 20th in the nation overall.

While the entire front seven is back, the secondary takes a hit with leading tackler Jamal Carter gone along with fellow safety Rayshawn Jenkins and top corner Corn Elder, but like everywhere else on the defense, there’s young talent ready to rise up.

Biggest Key To The Miami Defense

Keep that nasty attitude. All teams have their own brand of emotional fire and motivation, but this group had a different one last year considering all the youth. Under the new coaching staff and with so many new players, the idea was to overcome mistakes by being aggressive – and it worked.

And then came the all-star teams, and the Hurricanes were ignored with no one from the front seven getting anything more than an honorable mention. Ticked, the Canes went out and trashed West Virginia in the bowl blowout.

Miami Will Be Far Better If …

The penalties slow down. Miami was far better at not being naughty than it was in 2015, but the flags were still an issue in key games. The Canes were hit 121 times two years ago, and 95 last season.

The two times they were hit for double-digit flags – against Florida State and Notre Dame – they lost in nail-biters. It’s a bit much to think the flags were the reason for the one-point loss to the Noles and the 30-27 loss to the Irish, but they didn’t help.

Best Miami Offensive Player

RB Mark Walton, Jr. – The star of a loaded group of running backs, the 5-9, 205-pound pounder averaged over five yards per carry, running for 1,117 yards and 14 scores, while catching 27 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown.

Fantastic around the goal line, but with a burst to break off the big plays, too, he ran for over 100 yards six times with three scores against NC State and four against Florida Atlantic. With other great options to help the cause, Walton likely won’t wear down and doesn’t have to handle the ball more than 20 times – but he can.

2. RB Joseph Yearby, Sr.
3. WR Ahmmon Richards, Soph.
4. TE Chris Herndon, Sr.
5. QB N’Kosi Perry, Fr.

Best Miami Defensive Player

LB Shaquille Quarterman, Soph. – The leader of the youth movement at linebacker, the 6-1, 240-pounder is right out of central casting for a middle linebacker. He’s got the perfect size, the range, and the big-popping hitting ability making 84 tackles with 3.5 sacks in his true freshman season. Consistent, tough, and growing into a star of a leader, he should hover around the 100-tackle mark now that he knows what he’s doing.

2. DE Joe Jackson, Soph.
3. LB Michael Pinckney, Soph.
4. DT Kendrick Norton, Jr.
5. DT RJ McIntosh, Jr.

Key Player To A Successful Season

QB Malik Rosier, Jr. Or Evan Shirreffs, who has the pro-passer ability to stretch the field, or star recruit N’Kosi Perry, who’ll come in this summer as the most talented option on the roster, but in need of seasoning.

Miami would probably be a preseason top ten team with national title aspirations if Brad Kaaya had decided to come back for his final season. Instead, he was a sixth-round draft pick by Detroit, and now it’s up to Shirreffs, or Perry, or Malik Rosier to lead a loaded team.

The 6-1, 216-pound Rosier has been the backup over the last few seasons, and with the running ability to add something new to the offensive mix, but the team needs a consistent passer. Consistency will matter in fall camp.

The Miami Season Will Be A Success If …

It wins the Coastal Division. This was probably the best team in the division last year, but it couldn’t get the job done. Now, finally, this has to be the first time Miami goes to the ACC Championship in its 13 years in the league, with a team that has everything in place to finally be among the league’s elite. It might not be as good as Florida State or Clemson, but those two are in the other division. Get to the title game and roll the dice.

Key Game To The Miami Season

Sept. 16 at Florida State – For purposes of Miami’s season and going for an ACC championship, the back-to-back games against North Carolina and Virginia Tech are probably going to be more important. But in terms of setting a tone and getting that swagger back, winning at Florida State would be special.

After last year’s heartbreaker – losing on a blocked extra point – and with seven straight losses going back to 2009, beating the loaded Noles would be a big, big moment in Year Two of the Richt era. It would change the national narrative of the season.

2016 Miami Fun Stats

– Fumbles: Opponents 21 (lost 11) – Miami 7 (lost 3)
– Sacks: Miami 38 for 238 yards – Opponents 25 for 173 yards
– Time of Possession: Opponents 32:01 – Miami 27:59

2017 Miami Preview: Will “The U” EVER Play For ACC Title?
2017 Miami Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Miami Previews: 2016 | 2015


More College Football News