The 2017 season was a return to prominence for the Miami football program. After recent ACC struggles, the Hurricanes finally broke through, winning the ACC Coastal division. However, the season ended in disappointment. Miami looks poised to win the Coastal again, with eyes on a conference crown and national prominence. On offense, there are plenty of weapons. There is also an up and down quarterback and the offensive line that’s unsettled. On defense, forcing turnovers and big plays should be a strength again, led by one of the best linebacking crews in the nation. As Miami returns to prominence, the biggest question will be can they win the biggest games down the stretch this season.
Miami Hurricanes 2018 Season Pros
Miami, whoever the quarterback winds up being, will have a plethora of offensive weapons, including junior wideout Ahmmon Richards. Richards is coming off knee surgery. However, he is expected to be healthy and return to the form when he broke Michael Irvin’s record for first year yardage in his freshman year. Also returning are speed receivers Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley, as well as talented running backs Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas. Both have excellent playmaking ability. And when they have the ball in their hands, they can take it the distance every time.
On defense forcing turnovers should again be a strength with the Miami defense. They are extremely fast and physical. Linebackers will be one of the best crews in the nation, with Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, and Zach McCloud all returning. Defensive ends Joe Jackson and Jonathan Garvin are expected to be high round NFL talent and Gerald Willis returns, who is a big favorite of head coach Mark Richt.
Miami Hurricanes 2018 Season Cons
If they are going to return to national prominence, the biggest issue they face is at the quarterback position. Malik Rosier won 10 games and is a 5th year player. But Richt has said that if Rosier does not improve his accuracy, then one of his bevy of freshman quarterbacks will get the starting nod. This includes N’Kosi Perry, Cade Weldon, and Jarren Williams. The most likely option here will be Perry, who is both a talented scrambling QB and also has a strong arm.
The Offensive line, Secondary, & Kicking game. Oh my!
The offensive line will also be a question mark, as only 3 returning players from last year are sure things. On defense the secondary is a concern with inexperience other than safety Jaquan Johnson and cornerback Michael Jackson. The kicking game is also a worry for the Hurricanes with freshman Bubba Baxon taking over for Michael Bagley. Baxon has a strong leg but was just 4-10 as a high school senior.
Newcomers to Watch
The quarterback position is Malik Rosier’s to lose, who is a 5th year returning starter and won 10 games last season. But expect N’Kosi Perry to take over if Rosier struggles at all. Perry was a Top 200 4-star recruit coming out of high school. During his senior season in high school, Perry threw for 24 touchdowns and completed over 64 percent of his passes. No one should be shocked if at some point Perry is the starting quarterback.
Gone to the NFL is leading WR Braxton Berrios who led the team in both yards and TDs last year. Someone is going to need to pick up that lost production. While Ahmmon Richards will return from injury as we’ve already mentioned, keep an eye on this name: Mark Pope. He was a Top 75, 4-star recruit. The incoming freshman is a hometown guy, hailing from Miami Southridge, and he has all the makings of the next great Hurricane wideout. Separation speed, soft hands, fearless over the middle, playmaking ability with the ball in his hands, and a home run threat every time he steps on the field. He’ll need a little time to get acclimated to the offense. But once he does, watch out! He has a superstar ceiling.
Miami far exceeded their modest expectations in 2017. Las Vegas set the over under for wins at 8.5 and the Hurricanes posted 10 wins. They would have probably had another, if not for an early season hurricane cancelling their game against Arkansas State. Expectations are even higher this year, as the o/u is set at 10.5 wins.
The schedule is very favorable. Their biggest tests will be an early season tilt versus Florida State and a late season game at Virginia Tech. The rest of the schedule sets up very nicely with the opening game against LSU in Arlington, TX. Then it’s Savannah State, Toledo and FIU, before entering the ACC campaign.
Expect the Hurricanes to exceed the 10.5 wins total with at least 11 wins. This should be the new norm, as Miami returns to its glory days. Coming off their first place finish in the Coastal Division, we have Miami repeating that with another spot in the ACC title game. Expect them to be in the Top 10 this season and challenge for a Top 4 spot, if the QB position improves.