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2016 Fierce 40 Previews: #22 Miami

by DJ Boyer on Jul. 28, 2016

#22 Miami Hurricanes

2015 Recap:

Are the Miami Hurricanes back? An 8-5 record suggests maybe they are not back to their glory days of the late 80's and early 90's but four of the five losses came against ranked teams. The only two games where Miami was not competitive and blown out were against Clemson (58-0) and North Carolina (59-21), and those were the teams that played in the ACC Title Game. I think it's safe to say Miami is a second tier power but they are close to knocking down the door of being a consistent top 20 program.


Coaching:
The Mark Richt era begins in Miami after he leaves Georgia where he won 145 games over a 15-year period. Richt should help infuse an offense that was ranked 68th a year ago and a running game that was a dismal 117th overall. Richt will serve as the offensive coordinator as well as the head coach while leaving the defense in the hands of Manny Diaz.


Offense

Brad Kaaya is becoming one of the hot names for the 2017 Draft at quarterback providing he makes himself eligible. Kaaya threw for 3,238 yards and 16 TDs a season ago. Kaaya has had a few concussions while at Miami and this will be a concern moving forward. For a Hurricane standpoint the lack of running punch is the most concerning feature of the offense. With Mark Walton getting better and Gus Edwards back after injury the running game looks stable. We haven't even talked about last years starter Joe Yearby. What was viewed statistically as a weakness going into the season may wind up a strength and help Kaaya and the passing game. Four of the starters from last years offensive line are back so the running game will have some blocking help and they are led by center Nik Linder and OG Kc McDermott. the hidden gem on this team may be wide receiver Stacy Coley who brings something the Hurricanes value above all else at the position, speed. Kaaya will have some weapons to spread the ball around to but Coley looks like the receiver who could launch himself into elite status within the ACC.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Brad Kaaya QB 1st Round 2017 (Early Declaration).

                                       Stacy Coley WR 2nd Round 2017.


Defense

Al-Quadin Muhammad led this team in sacks last year with only 5 and the 26 for the team was the lowest total in 15 years. The Huricanes have long been known for a fast penetrating defense and spectacular linebacker play. The lack of pressure from the linebackers and the countless missed tackles took its toll on the defensive line as Miami did not perform up to par. There is plenty of speed and Muhammed will be joined up front by returning starter Chad Thomas, a disruptive force in his own right but a player who is more suited as a run-stopping defensive end. Gerald Willis and Kendrick Norton will join Courtel Jenkins to form a three-man rotation at defensive tackle. The uneven play at linebacker looks like it will lead to a couple of freshman getting the nod at linebacker in Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pickney. Corn Elder has the most experience in the secondary and this unit boasts a number of cabapble players but below the normal standards of individual excellence we are used to seeing at Miami.

Best Draft Prospects: Rayshawn Jenkins S 4th Round 2017.

                                      Chad Thomas DE 4th Round 2018.


Special Teams:

Miami has always been known as having tremendous special teams and this was an area where they delivered last season and should continue to do so this year. Justin Vogel is one of the better punters in the ACC while kicker Michael Badgley is one of the best in the entire country. Miami plans to use some other options at kickoff and punt returner since Corn Elder is the top cornerback oln the team but expect to see him in return mode occasionally and it is why his draft stock will be boosted. Expect Mark Walton to handle kickoffs while the punt return job is still up in the air.


Schedule:

The September 17th game at Appalachian State will prove more difficult than many believe and it will be a measuring stick for both programs. Miami will then begin their ACC schedule on the road against Georgia Tech and then having back-to-back home contests with Florida State and North Carolina. Miami will have to go on the road in late October and play in South Bend. Miami has a much improved offense that allow allow them to be competitive but this is a tough schedule for the new coaching regime.

Draft and Overall Outlook:

Getting Mark Richt will prove beneficial in the long run as Miami tries to get the faithful excited about football once again and get the standards to where we are used to seeing them. Miami will always recruit well but they have lost a little steam over the last five or six years. This is a team that is still a year or two away from contending for the ACC crown but they will make some noise.

DJ Boyer