It’s possible that you’ve heard within the last two seasons that Miami could possibly be back. Well it would be hard to confirm that in week six of Mark Richt‘s third year at Miami. With an upcoming rivalry game against Florida State this Saturday, now is the perfect time to believe in the Hurricanes football program.
Many use the history of Mark Richt, and whether he can take a team from being good to great, as reason to doubt Miami. However Richt and his staff have already displayed that Miami will be a force. This year’s current team has already undergone a transition at quarterback and could fare better down the stretch because of it.
Time to Believe In Miami Again
What Makes The 2018 Miami Hurricanes Different
N’Kosi Perry started his first game against coastal foe North Carolina last Thursday, and only threw 12 passes. That actually would be more than enough as the defense scored three touchdowns of their own. Furthermore the running attack was also able to rush for over 200 yards. With that combination, it makes starting a redshirt freshman an easier task.
This current Hurricanes team is much different with Perry at quarterback. The first reason being that Perry is just more talented than his predecessor Malik Rosier. With his arm talent, every receiver is a viable option. This fares well for the Hurricanes because of the depth among their skill positions.
Brevin selling the wham on this play action. You have the sense brevin is open on this in practice.
Mike does a good job following to the play and then redirecting on brevin
The defender over Harley does not. He looks like he blew his assignment Harley out and up.
Big play pic.twitter.com/Dg6xSbjyW2
— rOmaN (@romancane) September 30, 2018
Another key factor for the Hurricanes is the youth of Perry. Often times youth could be seen as a negative, and freshman mistakes will happen. However as Perry gets more comfortable during the season, he’ll also grow more confident. The development of Perry at quarterback could also help shed negative labels about Richt, if he is able to max out the potential of Perry.
Development and Competition
Mark Richt has kicked players off teams before at Georgia and at Miami. It’s common among every program to have a few bad apples, as they’re perceived. He had to suspend Gerald Willis, earlier in his career at Miami. He certainly could have given up on him last season when Willis decided to take a year off for personal reasons. Instead Miami welcomed him back to a standing ovation and trusted him. He’s now the leader they hoped for.
Another example is wideout Jeff Thomas, who Miami recruited from East St.Louis, Illinois. The coaching staff was well aware of a troubled past with Thomas as well as academic concerns. A documentary on Thomas’ high school team displayed even deeper red flags, as he was habitually late and a bad teammate. However both Thomas and Willis have done complete turnarounds and are heavily relied upon as team leaders. Thomas is the NCAA leader in yards per reception and Willis is second in the country in tackles for loss.
The Hurricanes have developed a knack for taking players that rarely saw any playing time and having them thrive in key roles. Darrell Langham played two snaps against Florida State last season but caught the game winning touchdown. This off-season the defensive staff altered the defense to become more athletic. That meant replacing a linebacker with a safety to play faster pace offenses. Romeo Finley has thrived in the new position, catching an 83 yard pick-six against North Carolina. Hayden Mahoney is in his first season starting on the offensive line and already has multiple games grading out the best.
The coaching staff has had direct imprint on each of these players and it’s strongly affected the team. They’ve taken players that weren’t consensus blue chip prospects and have given them roles in which they could flourish. Not only does this create more depth on a team but it gives younger players more time to develop for when they’ll be needed.
The best teams in college football are usually the teams with the highest level of competition. Richt has already done an impressive job transforming certain position groups, that were weaknesses into strengths. He’s also created a culture around the team where playing time must be earned.
Miami brought in a top ten recruiting class for the first time in almost a decade. Yet some of the most highly rated players from that class have yet to see playing time outside of blowouts. In recent years since Richt took over, Miami has also been dependent on graduate transfers. Richt’s rationale behind targeting these players are that they provide quality depth for a season while also bringing in a wealth of experience.
The Miami Hurricanes have also began recruiting at a higher level, with an emphasis on keeping the homegrown talent at home. Currently the Hurricanes have 17 commitments currently with only two prospects being from outside the state of Florida.
In a short span the Hurricanes have a revamped fan base along with heightened expectations. That should be viewed as a positive because it’s been quite a while since Miami has been relevant for championships.
For that reason, it bodes well for the future of the team because in order for Miami to be considered “back”, championships must be won. Not just playing for championships, like the 2017 season, but winning them. Which means knocking off a national power like Clemson and taking a seat among the elite teams in college football.