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Miami’s improved offense gives the program some needed stability

Miami v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Manny Diaz didn’t walk into an ideal roster situation when he took over Miami’s program following Mark Richt’s abrupt retirement in 2018, and the first season of his tenure was erratic, to say the least.

The Hurricanes put a true freshman quarterback under center behind an offensive line that was a substantial liability every week, so it wasn’t a terrible shock to see the offense’s output all over the place.

Miami still had a talented roster in general—the Hurricanes tend to recruit well regardless of what’s going on with their coaching situation—and that shined through for stretches, but not often enough to punch through the haze of this team’s chaotic inclinations.

They beat Pitt and Louisville and Virginia while coming close against Florida and UNC, while also losing at home to Georgia Tech and finishing the season with losses to Duke, Florida International, and Louisiana Tech.

Miami needed to find a greater source of consistency in 2020 and in an effort to do that, it replaced its offensive coordinator and brought in graduate transfer quarterback D’Eriq King, who was a standout at Houston. But even if Diaz had done nothing, the Hurricanes were likely to get better, because it ain’t like the offensive line could be worse.

And so far so good, as the Hurricanes have taken care of business outside of a disappointing blowout loss to Clemson—a result that can be forgiven under the circumstances. Their scoring output has improved by a touchdown per game, and they’re getting more from the ground to go with King’s solid passing.

Though they haven’t seen a dramatic change in quarterback performance:

Hurricanes Passing in ACC Games

Miami Offense Comp% Yds/Att Att/INT QB Rtg
Miami Offense Comp% Yds/Att Att/INT QB Rtg
2019 57.0 7.3 56 137.3
2020 59.5 7.8 34 140.53

Miami has improved its situational play this year, which has made a big difference; the Canes converted on only 27% of third downs in 2019, and they’ve got that up to 44% in ‘20. They’ve also been better in the red zone. Both of those things obviously help with consistency.

This team’s defense was as bright spot last year and remains a strength, and now that it is getting more support from the offense, suddenly Miami doesn’t look so much like it’s downing crazy pills every week. Funny how that works!

Is this a top-15 team? Maybe not. But it isn’t far off, either.