There’s no denying that 2019 was a disappointing year for the Miami Hurricanes football program. One could give them a pass because of Mark Richt’s surprise retirement and the program bringing Manny Diaz back as head coach despite him already accepting the head coach job at Temple. But two years removed from winning 10 games and playing in the ACC Championship Game, the Hurricanes expected better than going 6-7 under Diaz in 2019. However, with Houston quarterback D’Eriq King transferring to Miami, the 2020 season could be a big one for the Hurricanes.
To say that the quarterback position was an issue for Miami last season would be an understatement. Both Jarren Williams and N’Kosi Perry saw extended playing time but failed to claim the starting job on a permanent basis. In the end, Miami’s inability to find a solution at quarterback led to the Hurricanes losing three in a row to finish the season, including a 14-0 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl.
However, King’s arrival has a chance to change all that. While he played at a slightly lower level while at Houston, he’s an established college quarterback and one most power-conference teams would be happy to have as their starter. As the full-time starter at Houston in 2018, King threw for 2,982 yards with 36 touchdown passes to just six interceptions. He completed 63.5% of his passes and averaged 8.6 yards per pass. Even for a quarterback in the American Conference, those are enviable numbers. On top of his passing skills, King is an incredible athlete. In 2018, he ran for 674 yards, gaining 6.1 yards per carry while accumulating 14 rushing touchdowns.
In short, King will immediately become one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC. He also has a solid supporting cast around him at the skill positions. Of course, if there was one weakness on Miami’s last season it was the offensive line. However, the Hurricanes return six linemen with starting experience, which means that unit should be set up for significant improvement.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Hurricanes were solid in 2019. They gave up a respectable 20.8 points per game with only one team scoring more than 30 points against them in 13 games. Considering that Miami ended up playing 10 of its 13 games against teams that played in bowl games, the Hurricanes should feel good about their performance on that side of the ball.
Oddly enough, a graduate transfer is set to lead the Miami defense in 2020 much like King is expected to lead the offense. Quincy Roche is transferring from Temple after racking up 13 sacks last season. He and Gregory Rousseau, who amassed 15.5 sacks as a redshirt freshman for the Hurricanes in 2019, could form one of the best pass-rushing tandems in college football. With two of the best pass rushers in the country and most of the two-deep returning in the secondary, the Miami defense could be even better than last year.
Year after year, the ACC Coastal Division is one of the most wide-open and unpredictable divisions in college football. At the start of the season, all seven teams feel like they have a chance to win it. If any of them turn out to be a top-20 team, they might have a chance to run away with the division and reach the ACC Championship Game. With an elite-dual threat quarterback in King leading the offense and a ferocious pass rush leading the defense, the Hurricanes have a chance to be a top-20 team that becomes the dominant force in the ACC Coastal and returns to the national conversation.