Things didn’t go well for the Miami Hurricanes last season. They did not seem to have a direction on offense all year long. They have tried to address that. But can they convince BetOnline customers things can be solved? That would seem to be part of the scenario as they face the UAB Blazers. The scene is Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens for the season opener. It takes place next Thursday at 7 PM ET on ESPN.
Miami Tweaks the Staff
Miami was erratic at best on most occasions last year. They lost to FIU, which is inexcusable in the Miami area. Another lost to Georgia Tech, which was horribly inept switching from an option to a pro-style offense. They were shut out 14-0 by Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl. And clearly that was one of the more depressing moments of a 6-7 campaign.
Manny Diaz had skipped out on Temple and took the head coaching job after Mark Richt retired. They really could have fired him after a season where he got very little out of a lot of talent. But they gave him a chance to blame those under him. Ultimately that led to him canning offensive coordinator Den Enos. And he made a bold choice, bringing aboard Rhett Lashlee, who’d had the same job at SMU the previous four years. The Mustangs had brought themselves back to life with a new offense. And the ‘Canes got themselves an outstanding dual-purpose trigger man in D’Eriq King, who had established himself as one of the better quarterbacks in the nation before transferring from Houston.
Will the “O” Thrive?
King can run or pass, and should be a good match with Lashlee. Not having spring practice doesn’t help. But there are weapons around. There is little doubt that they are going to get something useful from the running backs. That inclides Cam’Rom Davis, who averaged 5.1 yards per carry last year.
Much will depend on how Lashlee can work Brevin Jordan into the attack. Last season he was a finalist for the John Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end. Word is that the Hurricanes will employ the two-tight end formation on occasion, as Jordan would team with Will Mallory.
Here are the numbers……
In the college football odds that have been posted on this game at BetOnline, the Hurricanes are the sizable favorite.
Miami Hurricanes vs. UAB Blazers Betting Odds
|UAB||+16 (-110)||48 (-110)||–|
|Miami Florida||-16 (-110)||48 (-110)||–|
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Can UAB step up in class?
The Blazers’ program has made an amazing comeback. UAB has flirted with the national rankings while reaching the Conference USA championship game two years in a row. Generally they have done it with defense. Last season they were ranked eighth in the nation in Total Defense. And they are bringing back eight starters. When you look at Jordan Smith and Kristopher Moll, you’ve got a pair of linebackers better than anything else in C-USA. We’re anxious to see what Brontae Harris can do; he missed last year with an injury and assumes a corner slot.
Being able to elevate themselves on offense is going to be a challenge. But they are fortunate to have ten starters returning. They might be deep in the backfield, with Jermaine Brown having a successful freshman season. If Spencer Brown can recapture his 2018 form (1227 yards), they’re going to threaten more people. Austin Watkins was a 1000-yard receiver last year. But we haven’t necessarily seen anything other-worldly out of QB Tyler Johnston, who threw 15 picks.
Miami “D” primed for big stuff
As bad as the Hurricanes were on offense, the defense held up its end of the bargain. The stop unit was 13th nationally, and might be even better. The key to what they can do might lie in the pass rush. Opposing quarterbacks have to get the ball away in a hurry. Defensive end Gregory Rousseau, an All-American, had 15.5 sacks last year. That was second only to Ohio State’s Chase Young. Now the ‘Canes have added a monster bookend. Quincy Roche had been with Diaz – at least for that week Diaz was at Temple. But now he’s transferred. And he had 13 sacks last year, fourth-most among returning pass rushers. They’ll be tough to deal with.
The difference between Miami’s proficiency on defense and that of UAB is that the ‘Canes have done this against better opposition. It seems that when the Blazers move up, they struggle to compete. Tennessee beat them by 23 points last year. FAU buried them 49-6 in the conference title game. And Appalachian State beat them by two TD’s in the New Orleans Bowl. In 2018, they went with a lot of hope to Texas A&M and lost by 21 points.
That’s part of it. But we like Miami’s chances of being a lot more explosive on the offensive end. And if King has adapted to Lashlee’s approach, h