SPORTalk, Anthony Newton
The U is back! That is what every Miami Hurricane fan and former player wants to hear. Every since Mark Richt returned to Miami 3 years ago this Miami team has been trending upwards. In Richt’s first year the team went 9-4 and was 5-3 in the division. They finished the 2016 season off with a victory in the Russell Athletic Bowl. In 2017 Miami was determined to take a step forward by getting back in the race of competing for one of the 6 big bowl games. Miami surprised the country when they started off 10-0. They shocked the nation being one of the last undefeated teams in the nation. Going into the last week of the regular season Miami was ranked #2 in the nation and on their way to their first ever college playoff game! They lost 3 straight to end the season, but Miami’s future looks promising!
Everyone this year has Clemson pegged as the ACC champion once again, but this U team has other plans in mind. Let’s talk about the pieces that they lost. Braxton Barrios and Chris Herndon had much production in the pass game and were reliable targets in Rosier’s first year as quarterback. The D-line also loses a couple of key starters including Chad Thomas, R.J. McIntosh, Anthony Moten and Kendrick Norton. On the offensive line we lose our left tackle in K.C. McDermott which they will need to get someone to fill that position fast. Maybe they will move their Right Tackle Tyree St. Louis.
Now, why should you be ecstatic about this upcoming season? First off, our defense has not missed a beat even though we lost many members on our defensive line. We return a really great secondary led by Jaquan Johnson and Michael Jackson. Johnson had 96 tackles, a sack, 4 interceptions, 1 returned for touchdown, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. Jackson had 43 tackles, 1 sack, and 4 interceptions. The Hurricanes linebacking core is full of juniors who have been starters since they were freshmen. Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, and Zach McCloud combined for around 200 tackles, 8 sacks, an interception, and a couple forced fumbles. The young defensive ends Joe Jackson and Jonathan Garvin also show promise on this defensive line. Although NCAA had Miami ranked number 38 in total defense in the nation; they were ranked top 5 and top 3 in turnover margin and turnovers gained. Manny Diaz is also back and is starting to be looked at as a brilliant defensive mind. Lastly the turnover chain has a possibility of rearing its beautiful brilliance once again. Bringing the ‘Swag’ back to the U!
The strength of this Hurricanes offense is going to be the running game. D.J. Dallas, Travis Homer, and now freshman running back Lorenzo Lingard are going to have a big impact in this offense. The Quarterback position is still in question as there are two freshman studs behind Rosier. Rosier has had a full year at starting quarterback and is looking for redemption as nobody believes he can take Miami to the Promise Land. Rosier came up big in some crucial moments last season; including both the Georgia Tech and Florida State games. They are also returning Ahmmon Richards who is a force when healthy. Cager and Langham also came up with some big catches last year.
Miami won ACC coastal division and finished the season at 10-3. Since Richt has been there, the program has been trending up and they are hoping to take that next step and put themselves into the conversation with Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, and Georgia. Is the U back? Stay tuned for this 2018 season that kicks off in less than 2 weeks!