After last year’s 9-4 finish (which easily could have been 11-2), the Miami Hurricanes were declared a team on the rise once again after being down for almost 10 years. Head coach Mark Richt, former quarterback of the Hurricanes, has reinvigorated the program, and now has Miami sitting pretty at 3-0 and #13 in the country.
Despite losing Brad Kaaya a year early to the NFL Draft, Malik Rosier has looked comfortable stepping in as his replacement. The junior has completed 65% of his passes, for 820 yards with ten total touchdowns and just two interceptions. Of course, it’s easy to put up big numbers when Mark Walton (featured) is carving up defenses at a ridiculous rate. In three games, Walton has over 400 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. While the schedule gets tougher, more on that later, Walton is a proven, 1,000-yard rusher in the ACC, and came into this year as a very sneaky dark horse for Heisman.
Outside of Walton, there isn’t too much experience at the skill positions for Rosier.
Ahmmon Richards is the second leading receiver on the team, despite missing the first two games with an injury. as a sophomore, and had a really strong freshman campaign with almost 1,000 yards on 49 catches with three touchdowns. Braxton Berrios is a senior, but only had 44 career receptions through three years. He’s going to smash his personal bests, but there wasn’t much resistance offered. Lawrence Cager missed all of last year with a knee injury. Christopher Herndon IV isn’t the strongest option at tight end. Perhaps letting legacy child Michael Irvin II get more snaps at tight end will help open up the offense for Walton and Co.
As for the defense, it’s tough to gauge so far. Certainly only causing two turnovers in three games might be cause for concern, especially when two opponents (Bethune-Cookman and Toledo) are inferior opponents. I guess one positive to take out of their turnovers is that sophomore Malek Young’s (above) interception caught a lot of social media attention, showing that “The U’s” swagger is in fact back.
This team has done a nice job of getting after the quarterback, with four quarterback sacks, two via Trent Harris, and 25 tackles for loss. This defense is young, littered with juniors and sophomores, and thus is still trying to work out the kinks. Added with the effects of Hurricane Irma, they just haven’t been able to fall into a groove. The defense better learn quickly, as the meat of the ACC schedule is fast approaching.
Miami will travel to Tallahassee to face in-state rival Florida State on Saturday in what should be another chapter in one of the best rivalries in college sports. While Florida State’s offense is in shambles, the defense will give Miami fits. Last year, Miami lost a heartbreaker at home, 20-19, which began a four game losing streak for the ‘Canes.
They then get Georgia Tech at home, who they beat 35-21 on the road in 2016. After two cupcakes in Syracuse and North Carolina, #16 Virginia Tech comes to town in a game that could decide the ACC Coastal. The Hokies blew out Miami last year at home, but this year will be different. Virginia Tech is already battle worn, while Miami should come into this game fresher, assuming they don’t fall for the set of trap games ahead of this meeting. Miami will also have the huge home field advantage, and potential undefeated season on the line. This will be the true test to see whether this Miami team is legit or not.
After the meeting with Va. Tech is another rivalry game with Notre Dame before closing out the year against Virginia and Pittsburgh.
It’s highly unlikely this team runs the table in the regular season, but with how bad the Coastal is, they could very well only have one loss heading into the ACC Championship Game, where they’ll be matched up with Clemson.
We may have to wait a few weeks to see how legit this Hurricanes team really is, but make no mistake about it, Miami football is back.
Cover Photo via Miami Herald
Other Media via UPI.com