The college football season can’t come soon enough. With every season comes new faces and possibilities. Who will be the teams to watch out for this season? This will be the 16th of many posts covering the top 25 teams in the country and will cover no. 10 Miami Hurricanes.
Mark Richt almost restored “the U” to its former glory, but faded down the stretch last season. They were undefeated and then lost the regular season finale, the ACC Championship Game and the Orange Bowl. With 13 returning starters, Miami will be the favorites in the ACC Coastal.
While the offense wasn’t the greatest, they were decent last season. The Hurricanes ranked 59th in scoring, 71st in rushing and 54th against the pass. Six returning starters give Miami some hope of improvement in 2018.
Malik Rosier is back after leading the Hurricanes to a 10-3 record last year. The dual-threat quarterback threw for 3,120 yards, 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions on 54% completion. He needs to improve his accuracy and decision-making this season. Rosier added 468 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns last season. If Rosier isn’t the answer, the ball will likely go to redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry.
One of the best receivers in the country, Ahmmon Richards, will suit up for Miami in 2018. He only played in seven games, but amassed 439 receiving yards. With a full season, and possibly better quarterback play, he is in store for a big year numbers-wise. Braxton Berrios and Christopher Herndon are gone, but both Jeff Thomas and Lawrence Cager had some production last year and will be looking to take more steps forward as pass-catchers in 2018. The bad news for the Hurricanes is that tight end Michael Irvin II will be out for four months with a knee injury.
Travis Homer took over for Mark Walton when he was lost for the season last year with injury. Homer led the team in rushing with 966 yards on 5.9 yards per carry. He got to the end zone eight times on the ground and once as a receiver. Freshman Lorenzo Lingard will give him breathers and is a threat to take it to the house on any play.
The offensive line brings back three starters, but can really help the offense get better by being more consistent this season. If they can keep the pressure off of Rosier, he can be successful.
If Rosier completes a higher percentage of his passes, this offense could have a nice balance. With that balance, they can be much more effective in 2018.
The defense allowed 21 points per game, which ranked 24th in the country. They were 43rd against the run and 56th against the pass last season. Although they did lose some talent to the NFL, they return seven starters. With a good linebacking core and secondary, the Hurricanes just need to prove themselves up front.
Joe Jackson is the only starter reclaiming his spot from last year. He had 10.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in 2017. Not having players from the starting lineup last season can create some anxiety, but there are a lot of juniors and seniors that will be filling out the rest of the defensive line. They’ve been waiting for their time to shine and have some talent.
The linebackers are one of the most talented units in all of college football. All three are juniors who have been starting from their freshman seasons. Shaq Quarterman leads the way and is coming off an 83 tackle, seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, five passes defended and one fumble recovered campaign. Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud, in addition to Quarterman, have NFL potential.
Michael Jackson had a fantastic season last season with four interceptions. He could have gone pro, but decided to take another year at Coral Gables. Jaquan Johnson and Sheldrick Redwine are back at safety for the Hurricanes. Johnson is the team’s leading tackler and is a turnover machine.
All in all, the Hurricanes just need to answer the questions along the defensive line. If they do, they can be one of the best defenses in the country.
To start the season, Miami plays LSU (Arlington, TX), Savannah State (home), Toledo (away) and FIU (home). The LSU game is intriguing, but they struggle on the offensive side of the ball. Miami should be able to win by a decent margin and sweep the non-conference schedule.
Their tough games in conference include Florida State (home), Georgia Tech (away) and Virginia Tech (away). The quality of the team they play may not be the deciding factor in them losing though, as evidenced by their loss to Pittsburgh last season.
The schedule is somewhat easy and Miami has plenty of athleticism to spare. Miami can win nine to 11 games in the regular season and win the ACC Coastal.
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