The No. 25-ranked Miami Hurricanes football team has welcomed some new things this season: a new coaching staff, a new system and a refreshed excitement among fans for what the future holds for this program. The team is 2-0 so far. The season is in too early of a stage and the opponents haven’t been competitive enough for the Canes to celebrate anything yet. However, the Canes have defeated their opponents by a combined 95-point margin and have shown good signs in many areas of the game. Let’s take a look at what we have learned so far about this Miami football team.
Head Coach Mark Richt trusts his coaching staff. He has repeatedly made it clear that he will continue to give freedom to his assistant coaches and trust them to make the right decisions. That has been evident throughout both of the first two games. Richt has focused on play-calling, while leaving Offensive Coordinator Thomas Brown and Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz to take care of their respective parts of the field. It has worked out beautifully to this point. The running game has been tremendous and the defense has been surprisingly stout considering all the injuries that the team has had to deal with on that side of the ball.
“I want to give props to [defensive coordinator] Coach Diaz and [special teams coordinator] Coach Hartley, because I’ve not spent much time at all getting in the middle of defense or getting in the middle of special teams or the kicking game, so I can focus on the job I’ve got to do as a play-caller,” Richt said after the FAMU game.
There is more to this offense than Brad Kaaya. Yes, the junior quarterback is extremely talented and will surely bear more weight on his shoulders to carry the team against better opponents, but he does not need to do everything. This team has a very good run game, one that they have relied on heavily in each of the first two matches of the season. It has paid off. The team has combined for 652 yards on the ground to this point, an outstanding number. The offensive line has been terrific, opening up plenty of running lanes. Opposing teams have had no answer. Sophomore running back Mark Walton is No. 11 in the country in total rushing yards, and he and junior running back Joe Yearby have created quite the tandem. Between Walton’s elusiveness and Yearby’s downhill speed, Miami has rushed their way to victories. That should be able to continue as the season goes on.
“We told the quarterback and the offensive linemen that we can put it on our back and let us take the show,” Yearby said after the win over FAU.
This team has grit. Players on the offense and specifically the defense have shown fight. The defense lost two experienced players from NCAA violations before the season even started and lost others to injuries. Many teams would have accepted the fate of a bad defense for the season, but not the Canes. The players have not allowed either FAMU or FAU’s offense, specifically the run game, to get anything going, which is huge considering the majority of Miami’s losses came at the defensive lineman, defensive end and linebacker positions.
“We come in here with a mindset, and that is to always keep up to the standard,” freshman linebacker Shaq Quarterman said. “We go out there and do what we are supposed to do, which is to play as hard as we can, stop the run and play as a unit.”
It is obvious that the team has not met a true challenge quite yet, but nonetheless, the Hurricanes have shown that they are prepared for when those challenges come. They have taken care of business so far this season, and will look to continue to do so as the schedule moves forward.