A sleeping giant is currently rising in beautiful South Beach, Miami and it comes in the form of the Miami Hurricanes football team.
Mark Richt, who is entering his third season as head coach for “the U,” comes into the 2018 campaign after leading Miami to their best record since 2003. Last season’s 10-3 record for the Hurricanes also featured two weeks in the College Football Playoffs.
Last year’s storybook season went off course with an anomalous Week 11 loss to Pitt. This loss, paired with two more losses to Clemson and Wisconsin, will be strong motivators for the ‘Canes this season as they will look to rise back to the top of the college football food chain.
The resurgence of Miami stems from a mix of experience and new talent coming in on offense.
The Hurricanes have seven returning offensive starters and a phenomenal offensive recruiting class this past year.
Miami’s two best recruits, RB Lorenzo Lingard and TE Brevin Jordan, are both offensive studs that have huge holes to fill on Miami’s system. Lingard, a 5-star recruit, competes with Junior Travis Homer for the starting RB position. Homer played very well for the ‘Canes last year as he rushed for 966 yards and 5.9 yards per carry.
Jordan replaces TE Chris Herndon, who ranked 17th in the nation among Tight Ends last year in receiving yards. Jordan is the No. 1 Tight End in the 2018 class and has a big 6’3, 250 lbs frame to help in the blocking game as well.
Miami lost WR Braxton Berrios after last season. Berrios had 679 yards on 55 catches last season and will be missed this year for Miami. His replacement looks like Junior Ahmmon Richards. Richards is an athletic threat and had 439 yards in just seven games played last season. If healthy, Richards should have no problem replacing the reliable Berrios.
The young man tasked with passing/handing the ball off to these players is Quarterback Malik Rosier. Rosier shined last year as he had 3120 yds and a 131.1 passing rating.
Defensively, Miami is returning eight starters, but losing a multitude of power and quickness up front. Three starting defensive linemen, DT RJ McIntosh, DT Kendrick Norton, and DE Chad Thomas, are all leaving for the NFL, which substantially changes the Miami defense. The three combined for 119 tackles last season including 31.5 tackles for loss.
The replacements at the Defensive Tackle position are inexperienced but also full of potential.
Gerald Willis, who took a year off last year, will be a frontrunner for one of the starting DT jobs. Before his redshirted 2017 season, Willis had 33 total tackles in just 14 games played in his college career.
The other DT spot will likely be filled by true freshman Nesta Silvera. Silvera is a 4-star recruit and the No. 2 DT in the country.
The Linebacker core of Michael Pinckney, Shaquille Quarterman, and Zach McCloud all return this year following their junior seasons. This trio plays consistently and racks up tons of tackles for Mark Richt’s defense.
The group that will be rocking the “turnover chain” the most this year will be the strong Miami secondary.
The two stars on the defense to look out for are Safety Jaquan Johnson and Cornerback Michael Jackson, who both had 4 interceptions in 2017. Look for these two upperclassmen to thrive for the Canes in 2018 as well.
Game By Game Predictions
Week 1 @ LSU:
Miami will defeat a very good out-of-conference opponent in Baton Rouge week 1.
Week 2 vs. Savannah State:
Savannah State is not powerful enough to overcome CFP hopeful Miami. Canes win easily.
Week 3 @ Toledo:
Much like Savannah State, Toledo will simply be out coached, out powered, and out classed by the U.
Week 4 vs. FIU:
Rounding out out-of-conference play is FIU. Miami will dismantle the Panthers and have full momentum going into ACC play.
Week 5 vs. UNC:
ACC play begins with a bang for the Hurricanes as they easily beat a UNC team who struggled in 2017.
Week 6 vs. Florida State:
Miami will win a close game against a young, but talented Seminoles team.
Week 7 @ Virginia:
The Hurricanes defeat the Cavaliers in statement fashion. This allows them to get a top 3 ranking in the country.
Week 8 @ Boston College:
BC, who is returning 73% of their starters, upsets Miami at Alumni Stadium. Miami drops many spots in the rankings and needs to win out in order to have a shot at the playoff.
Week 9 vs. Duke:
Miami absolutely pounces on Duke one week after an embarrassing upset to BC.
Week 10 @ Georgia Tech:
Miami defeats another decent team by a large margin as the Canes destroy the Yellow Jackets in Week 10.
Week 11 @ Virginia Tech:
This game is an instant classic as Miami, who is ranked No. 6 in the CFP ranking right this week, narrowly defeats No. 7 Virginia Tech in an OT thriller.
Week 12 vs. Pittsburgh:
Last year, this Miami team lost to Pitt in a late season game that broke the hearts of many fans… This year, the Canes clearly have learned from their past failures and steamroll Pitt en route to the ACC championship game vs. Clemson.
ACC Championship Game vs. Clemson:
At this point in the season, Clemson is ranked 4th in the nation and Miami is right behind them at No. 5. The experience this Miami team has returning allows them to finally get past Clemson and gain a CFP berth.
CFP Game vs. Georgia:
The miracle season ends with Georgia defeating Miami in overtime fashion. Miami gains the respect of the nation and the days of “The U” are finally back.