The Miami Hurricanes will kickoff the 2020 college football season tonight against UAB at Hard Rock Stadium. The game is scheduled for an 8 p.m. start and will be televised on the ACC Network.
Miami head coach Manny Diaz enters year two in leading the UM program and he is hoping to unveil a new-look spread offense after that side of the ball struggled to find any consistency in production in 2019.
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Diaz has made plenty of changes on the offensive side of the ball, starting with the hire of offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, who arrives from SMU.Lashlee is set to install a no-huddle spread offense at UM after a successful stint with SMU in 2019 that included the Mustangs averaging 41 points, 489 yards, and 80 plays per game. By comparison, Miami’s 2019 offense averaged 25 points and 367 yards per game.
Diaz and Lashlee landed D’Eriq King from Houston through the NCAA Transfer Portal to run the new offense and the hope is that his dynamic dual threat ability can help the Hurricanes score more points.
King has thrown for 4,925 yards with 50 touchdowns while rushing for 1,421 yards with 28 touchdowns. King led a similar style of offense back in 2018 at Houston when Kendal Briles was his offensive coordinator. That season, King threw for 2,982 yards with 36 touchdowns while rushing for 674 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Lashlee hired new assistants to help install the new spread offense in wide receivers coach Rob Likens and offensive line coach Garin Justice–with both coaches having experience as offensive coordinators in their careers.
Will all these changes on offense unlock the potential of UM’s talent on that side of the ball? That’s the key question for Miami in 2020.
Defensively, Miami enters year two with Blake Baker as the coordinator. The Hurricanes must replace four-year starters at linebacker in Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney along with star pass rusher Gregory Rousseau, who opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.
Ever since Manny Diaz arrived at UM as defensive coordinator, UM has upheld a high standard of being a Top 25 defense while playing an aggressive, attacking brand on that side of the ball.
The Hurricanes finished the 2019 season ranked No. 13 overall in the country in total defense at 309 yards per game allowed. UM ranked No. 23 overall in the country in points per game allowed at 20.2 points. Miami also ranked No. 6 in the country in sacks at 3.54 per game in 2019.
Even with Rousseau opting out of the 2020 season, UM’s pass rush figures to be a strength once again in 2020. The Hurricanes added the 2019 AAC Defensive Player of the Year in Temple graduate transfer Quincy Roche, who finished with 13 sacks while collecting 19 tackles for loss. Former No. 1 overall player Jaelan Phillips is up to 6-foot 5-inches and 266-pounds and is primed to be a threat off the edge for the Hurricanes defense as well.
UAB doesn’t offer much name recognition to the average college football fan, but the Blazers are a team the Hurricanes—and the UM fanbasebetter not sleep on.
The Blazers are the preseason favorite to win Conference USA in 2020 and it is a program that won 28 games from 2017-19. UAB is a Group of Five team that features plenty of future NFL players on its roster.
UAB started its 2020 season last Thursday with a match-up against FCS opponent Central Arkansas. The Blazers comfortably won that game, 45-35.
After watching UAB against Central Arkansas last Thursday, Diaz made it clear that the Blazers are a good, well-rounded team.
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