Miami Hurricanes: CFN College Football Preview 2021

·11 min read

College Football News Preview 2021: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Miami season with what you need to know.

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– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Miami Schedule Analysis
– Miami Hurricanes Previews
2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2020 Record: 8-3 overall, 7-2 in ACC
Head Coach: Manny Diaz, 3rd year, 14-10
2020 CFN Final Ranking: 20
2020 CFN Preview Ranking: 19
2019 CFN Final Ranking: 60

Miami Hurricanes College Football Preview 2021: Offense

It wasn’t amazing, but the offense was far better after closing out the 2019 season with 227 yards in a 14-0 bowl loss to Louisiana Tech. Having QB D’Eriq King around helped, and new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee was. spark, but the attack still didn’t attack like it was should’ve and it couldn’t sustain any consistency with the ground game.

The O averaged 440 yards and 34 points per game, but the production came against a whole lot of mediocre teams. That’s the deal, though. The ACC doesn’t have a ton of killers – the Canes were stuffed by Clemson – and it just has to find something that keeps on working as long as King is okay.

King is still trying to come back from a torn ACL suffered in the Cheez-It Bowl loss to Oklahoma State, but before that he threw for 2,686 yards and 23 touchdowns and ran for 538 yards.

He was exactly what the Canes needed after a shuffling quarterback situation, but now the spotlight is on freshman Tyler Van Dyke. The 6-4, 224-pound freshman has to be ready to roll if King isn’t 100%.

Key target TE Brevin Jordan is done, but 6-5, 245-pound junior Will Mallory is a strong receiving option to go along with all the veteran receivers. The top wideouts are back, starting with leading man Mike Harley and juniors Mark Pope and Dee Wiggins.

There are plenty of big play and emerging targets to work in – getting Charleston Rambo from Oklahoma helps – no matter who’s under center.

It was a weird year for the offensive line. It started out 2020 by blasting away on UAB for 337 rushing yards, but it struggled the rest of the way at keeping defenses out of the backfield. There’s size and talent returning after a few parts were out of the mix last year. More than anything else, there should be more cohesion after the right five are set in fall camp.

It isn’t a deep group of running backs, but the Canes have three in what should be a great rotation. King is the most dangerous rusher if healthy, but Cam’Ron Harris is coming off a team leading 643-yard, ten touchdown season, second-year freshman Donald Chaney appears ready to explode, and Donald Chaney showed flashes in his first year.

– What You Need To Know: Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Miami Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Miami Hurricanes College Football Preview 2021: Defense

4. Miami Hurricanes College Football Preview 2021: Defense

The defensive line never had Gregory Rousseau last year, but now it’s without Jaelan Phillips on one side and Quincy Roche on the other – they combined for 12.5 sacks and 30 tackles for loss. The Canes were fourth in the nation in tackles for loss, but the D as a whole was just okay allowing 408 yards and 27 points per game.

No pressure, senior Zach McCloud and redshirt freshman Jahfari Harvey – or Tennessee transfer Deandre Johnson – but the spotlight will be on to keep up the production. There’s good size to work around in 318-pound Jonathan Ford and 305-pound Nesta Silverà inside.

Defensive end might get the attention, but linebacker might be the early concern with some shuffling going on. 230-pound second-year freshman Corey Flagg made 15 tackles and should push Bradley Jennings for time in the middle. 205-pound Gilbert Frierson was a safety playing linebacker, and now the third-leading tackler will play the hybrid Striker role.

When the Miami secondary is healthy and ready to roll, it’s going to be fantastic. There were some bumps and bruised that kept some parts out this spring, but all should be fine in time for Alabama.

Leading tackler Bubba Bolden is back at one safety spots after coming up with 74 tackles, and Amari Carter will play a role somewhere – even if Frierson takes over the Striker spot – after finishing second on the team with 53 tackles.

The corners are deep with a nice rotation if needed. DJ Ivey is a good hitter who’s been around long enough to be set at one side, but again, the position is strong enough – transfers are playing a huge role helped by getting corner Tyrique Stevenson from Georgia – to play around with the lineup.

– What You Need To Know: Offense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Miami Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Miami Hurricanes College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

Miami Hurricanes College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

Best Miami Hurricanes Offensive Player

QB D’Eriq King, Sr.
It’s been a rough career in so many ways both on and off the field, and now he’s trying to quickly come back from the knee injury that knocked him out of the bowl loss to Oklahoma State.

At Houston he grew into a statistical superstar – throwing for close to 3,000 yards and 36 touchdowns to go along with 674 yards and 14 scores on the ground in 2018 – but 2019 got strange as the team went into shut down mode. He transferred to Miami and was fantastic hitting 64% of his throws and being exactly what the team needed. Now he has to get healthy.

2. OT Zion Nelson, Soph.
3. WR Mike Harley, Sr.
4. RB Cam’Ron Harris, Jr.
5. TE Will Mallory, Jr.

Related

2021 Miami Football Schedule: Analysis, Best and Worst Case Scenarios

Best Miami Hurricanes Defensive Player

S Bubba Bolden, Jr.
The talent was always undeniable, but he never meshed at USC. The former super-recruit has 6-3, 204-pound size and tremendous range, but he wasn’t able to show much in his first year with the Canes – he couldn’t shake injuries.

But last year it all came together, generating a team-high 74 tackles with an interception. Now he’s growing into a strong pro prospect who should be a lock for All-ACC honors again.

2. DT Nesta Silverà, Jr.
3. LB/S Gilbert Frierson, Soph.
4. DE Deandre Johnson, Sr.
5. S Avante Williams, Fr.

Top Incoming Miami Hurricanes Transfer

WR Charleston Rambo, Jr.
The Miami receiving corps was already good with a whole slew of top targets returning, but the 6-1, 180-pound transfer from Oklahoma added even more flash to the mix.

A great recruit for the Sooners, he busted out as a sophomore with 43 catches for 743 yards and five scores – averaging over 17 yards per catch – and last year he caught 25 balls for 312 yards and three scores. Now he’s looking for a bigger role on the outside.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Miami Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Miami Hurricanes College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

Miami Hurricanes College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

Miami Hurricanes Biggest Key: Offense

Pass protection. To be fair to the offensive front, D’Eriq King tried to make things happen with his mobility and took his share of sacks, and it wasn’t the line’s fault he got hurt. However, Miami’s line allowed 30 sacks and 87 tackles for loss.

Also to be fair, it was a big improvement.

As mediocre as the line was in 2020, it was far, far better than the 2019 version. Now the O gets several parts back who missed time last year to create one of the deeper and more talented lines the program has had for a while. There are too many positives to come up with another disappointing year.

Miami Hurricanes Biggest Key: Defense

Stop allowing so many first downs. The pass rush was a killer and – strangely enough – the D wasn’t that bad on third downs. However, there were way too many first downs allowed.

The Canes allowed 219 first downs in 2019 in 13 games. They gave up 258 last season in 11 games. There were way too many penalties from the defensive side against Clemson, there were too many problems against run against North Carolina, and there too many lost opportunities against Oklahoma State.

The 2015 Canes allowed 30 first downs to North Carolina in a loss. They hadn’t given up more than 28 until last year and they did it four times, and three of them were in the three losses.

Miami Hurricanes Key Player To A Successful Season

DE Deandre Johnson, Sr.
Is he the Next Man Up?

Pass rush hasn’t been an issue over the last few years for Miami, but that’s because the shelves kept getting stocked with new star talent.

The hope is for Johnson – a transfer from Tennessee – to be a solid replacement for Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche, or at least become a huge part of the rotation. The 6-3, 260-pound Miami native made ten career sacks for the Vols, but the line will get a big boost if he can just push for five.

Miami Hurricanes Key Game To The 2021 Season

at North Carolina, Oct. 16
Are the Tar Heels really the stars of the Coastal? If Miami wants the division, it probably has to win in Chapel Hill along the way.

UNC ran wild in a 62-26 win last year after winning the year before. Miami rolled 47-10 in 2018, but the Tar Heels have won four of the last five. The rest of the ACC schedule isn’t all that bad if the Canes can pull this off.

Miami Schedule Analysis

2020 Miami Hurricanes Fun Stats

– Average Yards Per Play: Miami 8 – Opponents 5.6
– Field Goals: Miami 20-of-22 – Opponents 13-of-20
– Time of Possession: Opponents 32:18 – Miami 27:42

NEXT: Miami Hurricanes College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

Miami Hurricanes College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

Miami had a slew of issues and flaws last year but it was still able to win eight games. This year’s team should be far, far better, it’s far deeper, and it’s more talented, so now the bar can be reasonably set at getting to the ACC Championship.

Maybe.

Start with this – no Clemson, no Notre Dame. There’s a date with Alabama to start the season, and facing Appalachian State and Michigan State in Hard Rock aren’t layups, but the Canes miss the two stars of the ACC – or whatever the Irish are to the conference.

There can’t be slips on the road against Florida State or Pitt, and taking care of Virginia Tech, Virginia and NC State at home are hardly a breeze, but it’s Miami – it’s supposed to own home games.

Set The Miami Hurricanes Regular Season Win Total At … 8.5

But it all comes down to whether or not QB D’Eriq King really is healthy and ready to go coming off a torn ACL. However, it’s not the end of the world if he has to miss the first few games of the year if he can be back for the ACC opener against Virginia.

There’s experience at the skill spots, and the offensive line has steadily worked to this moment when it has the depth and talent to be terrific, but the defense has question marks about the pass rush and linebacker. They’ll both be fine, but Alabama has a way of making things look bad.

No, Manny Diaz hasn’t been able to take the program back to national superpower status, and this year’s team doesn’t appear to have the chops to be that.

That doesn’t mean it can’t and shouldn’t push to be the second-best team in the ACC.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
Miami Schedule Analysis