The Miami Hurricanes are nearing the middle part of their season and through five games have shown some good traits and some deficiencies. Miami began the season unranked by most polls and are now ranked at 11th, and at one point was as high as seventh. At this point last year, Miami already had three losses and were struggling to win against MAC schools like Central Michigan. So by that comparison the team has improved and playing against only conference opponents gives the Hurricanes a true barometer for their play. Head coach Manny Diaz after his first season addressed areas that needed upgrades and those additions have fared well for the Hurricanes.
Offensive Bright Spots
The biggest question mark around the team was how the Hurricanes would perform offensively. Through five games, the Hurricanes have only scored less than 31 points in one game and are averaging over 35 points per game. One of the biggest reasons for the improvement has been the play of quarterback D’Eriq King. The graduate transfer has been the bright spot of the offense and his leadership has elevated the team’s play.
Outside of King, the tight ends have shown the most consistency among the player’s on offense. The duo of Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory have accounted for six of the 10 touchdown passes that King has thrown for. Both tight ends have caused problems for the defense and shown to be mismatches over the middle of the field. In fact, more teams are now giving the duo most of their attention and allowing the wideouts to have one on one coverage.
Although his play has cooled off recently, running back Cam’Ron Harris started the season off on a tear rushing for over 300 yards and five touchdowns in the first three weeks. As more teams gameplan for the Miami Hurricanes offense, teams have pressured the rushing attack and taken away that element.
Areas That Need Improvement Offensively
Miami moving to a higher tempo offense has shown its benefits for certain position groups. But one group that hasn’t has been the wideouts. For a team that has plenty of blue-chip players at the wide receiver, the position has yet to find a consistent threat or even a go-to guy. Teams are now blitzing Miami up the middle and forcing the players on the outside to prove that they can make a play. This offense could have much better stats if any of the receivers stepped up and played up to their potential. The coaches have noticed this as well and are now giving the younger receivers an opportunity to play.
While the offensive line is in a much better position than last season, the group cannot yet be considered a strength. Playing at a faster tempo and getting the ball out quicker has allowed for fewer sacks. But, the group is still a question mark. Miami returned a group that saw a ton of playing time last season in addition to adding transfers, yet have struggled against some of the talented defensive lines in the ACC.
It seems every year that defensively Miami seems to reload with new players and still remain highly productive. This season has shown some of those glimpses as Quincy Roche and Jaelan Phillips have been impressive edge rushers. Standout safety Bubba Bolden is arguably the team’s best player. After missing last season early due to injury, Bolden has more than shown that he will make an impact on every level of the defense. Through five games he leads the team in tackles, has a sack, an interception. Additionally, he has three forced fumbles and also has blocked two field goals. Miami’s defense is still looking for a complete game of domination but there have been enough glimpses to see the overall ability of this defense.
Areas That Need Improvement Defensively
After graduating two seniors at linebacker that were four-year starters, the Miami Hurricanes are still looking to find their footing in replacing them. So much so that it seems the rotation at linebacker has opened up to a four-man rotation. The staff is looking to find out who will emerge as the best man for the job. There have been some young talent at the position now showing that the future is bright at the position.
Miami has gotten too fancy in some areas on defense and that has cost them during games. On third downs, Miami is becoming more of a heavy zone blitz team that relies on exotic pressure. In recent years, Miami has been more of a man to man press coverage team that relies on its speed on the defensive line to get to the quarterback. Another area needing improvement would be forcing turnovers. The Hurricanes are still searching for the game in which the team brings out the Turnover Chain multiple times.