The Miami Hurricanes begin spring football on March 20th. Spring usually heralds new beginnings, and after a disappointing finish to 2017, Miami is looking for just that. The Hurricanes started last season with ten straight wins and then fell in the final three games.
Miami Hurricanes Spring Football Outlook
Miami reached new heights last season clinching a berth in the school’s first ACC Championship Game. Senior quarterback Malik Rosier returns as the starter, but will be in competition with redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry. Travis Homer leads the group of Miami running backs after being named second team All-ACC last season.
Miami Hurricanes Offensive Outlook
For as good of a season Miami experienced last season, the offense was inconsistent at best. With Malik Rosier leading the offense at quarterback, some of the overall production declined. After having eight games in 2016 where the offense scored 30 or more points, in 2017 that number fell to five. The third down conversion rate of the offense fell to an abysmal 28% rate, which ranked Miami 125th out of 129 FBS schools.
Potential Quarterback Battle
Although Mark Richt stated during the signing day press conference that Rosier is the starter heading into the spring, he will have to compete. Perry redshirted last season, after being a late summer arrival and reports have raved about his arm strength. He is not the only competitor as Jarren Williams, a true freshman, has enrolled early to enter the competition. A surprising name to keep an eye on would be redshirt freshman Cade Weldon, he has to mature more but has the physical tools to be a future starter.
Home-Run Running Backs
There was a new hope last season in the backfield after Mark Walton was lost for the season during the Florida State game. Travis Homer produced 1,185 yards from scrimmage last season while scoring nine touchdowns. He also made history becoming the first offensive player to wear the ‘Turnover Chain’. Freshman DeeJay Dallas, by the end of the season, became another key figure in the offense. He averaged over seven yards a carry against Clemson and Wisconsin. In the Notre Dame blowout he scored two touchdowns and is also the feature back in Miami’s version of the wildcat. This spring Miami adds another back in five-star recruit Lorenzo Lingard, another early enrollee.
Big Play Wideouts
One position that looks good on paper is the returning group of wide receivers. Miami will have Ahmon Richards in a limited role, as he recovers from meniscus surgery. The dangerous speed of Jeff Thomas and Lawrence Cager, who was clutch late in the season, both return on the outside. Miami adds a group of young pass catchers, with Brian Hightower and Dee Wiggins joining the spring roster. The offense will only have two scholarship tight ends on the spring roster but will be awaiting two more tight ends once training camp arrives.
Miami Defensive Outlook
The Hurricanes featured one of the best defensive groups last season. Miami’s “Turnover Chain” became a national sensation. But it was more than social media success–the Hurricane’s defense was third nationally (first among Power 5 schools) in turnovers gaines last season.
Looking beyond the turnovers, Miami ranked top five nationally in a number of categories. The team voted defensive back Jaquan Johnson as team MVP and he returns after having nine turnovers and 96 tackles in 2017. Former five-star prospect Gerald Willis returns to anchor the defensive line after taking a leave of absence last season. Add that to Joe Jackson, who is responsible for 14 sacks the past two seasons, and there are some building blocks. It’s not going to be easy, though. In addition to losing a number of key contributors to the NFL Draft and graduation, defensive line coach Craig Kuliogowski departed for a position at Alabama.
Miami still returns more than enough on the defensive side of the ball with Sheldrick Redwine at safety with Johnson. Michael Jackson headlines the group of corners, his four interceptions notched him second team All-ACC honors. There is also plenty of buzz around Trajan Bandy, the freshman that returned an interception 65 yards against Notre Dame.
Miami hopes this spring will be a strong start to the 2018 campaign. And that’ll the spring will lay the ground work for an even stronger finish to the 2018 campaign.
Embed from Getty Images