When the Miami Hurricanes take to the field on Saturday for their glorified scrum against Central Connecticut State, D’Eriq King will look well placed on the sidelines in his UM booty.
Because the Hurricanes starting quarterback won’t be in uniform because he’s resting his injured right shoulder. And if for some reason he is – there’s a better chance the SEC will add CCSU in its next expansion round – then Manny Diaz is just looking to ignite the trolls.
Of course, Diaz is more concerned with trying to fix what’s going on at Coral Gables and so far the third-year coach has been as successful as any of his predecessors in the past 15 years, or ever since. ‘The U’ stood for ‘Underachieving.’
And again, the Hurricanes program is at a crossroads. Something we have seen many times over the past fifteen years. But playing an FCS program won’t tell us anything about the path they take. It will come from next week.
D’Eriq King has no problem for the 1-2 Cannes. Of course, he’s not the same player who took this team to seven wins a year ago. King is a strong college quarterback who can make plays due to his athletic ability, but is physically limited, mainly due to his size. And now the severity of his shoulder injury is unknown.
But 2021 presented some challenges. First of all, do we really know if he’s 100% after having surgery to repair a torn ACL in January? It certainly doesn’t look like it. He was hesitant and didn’t show the explosiveness of a year ago. King is averaging 2.4 yards per carry up from 4.2 a year ago.
How much of this is due to an ineffective offensive line that has regressed. That line, which started three senior five-year-olds, was dominated in last week’s 38-17 loss to Michigan State. Miami ran for 52 yards and King was sacked three times.
Now the best player in that row for three weeks, red-shirted rookie Jalen Rivers, is out for the year after injuring his knee against the Spartans.
But it will all be covered up this week, even with sophomore rookie Tyler Van Dyke (the likely starter) and real rookie Jake Garcia splitting the time at quarterback. The Blue Devils’ defense is slashed for 306 rushing yards per game and has a total of three sacks. And Miami’s offensive line tops the Blue Devils’ three linemen by over 53 pounds per man.
It won’t be Jacksonville State versus Florida State.
This game is an audition to see if Van Dyke or Garcia will start Thursday against Virginia in the UM ACC opening game … if King is unable to play.
What Van Dyke and Garcia cannot control is that the ball ends up on the ground after hitting a receiver in the hands or on the numbers, a persistent problem at UM. Just like the defense that knocks down the man with the ball.
The Michigan state loss wasn’t nearly the most embarrassing or inexcusable in Diaz’s three years, but it amplified the noise. And last Saturday was not a good day to celebrate the 1991 Championship squad, which was introduced to a crowd at Hard Rock Stadium who showed as much enthusiasm for this team’s accomplishments as they did for the start of the season. the ’21 team.
The 91 Hurricanes were 12-0, reminding fans not only of the dominance of this program in its heyday, but also how far it has fallen. And the players of that time have become oblivious to what Miami has become. Former players are dejected by the mediocrity that has defined this agenda for much of the past decade and a half. Those present a week ago left the stadium in a bad mood.
âIt’s just frustrating,â said one of them.
Diaz hasn’t lost his faith, as he shouldn’t, and still believes that better days are ahead under his watch. But he turned defensive this week when asked if player development was an issue … A very fair question when you look at the offensive line, running backs, receivers and lack of fundamentals in defense.
And what has been glossed over this week is the conditioning, and how a Michigan team can show up in South Florida and beat Miami 21-3 in the fourth quarter.
âPlayer development is ongoing,â said Diaz. “We believe in our guys, we trust our guys and we also trust the younger ones we have behind them.”
This confidence, however, is mostly confined within the walls of the Hecht Athletic Center.
Diaz said the number of drops was down from a year ago, but was more noticeable because they were “catastrophic” at times.
“I think it’s more of a confidence issue. I think it’s correctable and I think you’ll see that come true over the course of the season,” he said.
As for tackles and the lack of physical play on both sides, Diaz believes this is resolved by reverting to “training camp type” drills in practice.
âWe have done what you are authorized to do by the new letters of the law on the way you practice,â he said of the physical nature of the practice. âIt was physical for everyone and everyone got to watch, so if someone wasn’t physical they were looking. There had to be a winner and a loser in every repetition.â
Diaz’s optimism stems from three rounds of recruitment starting in 2020. Diaz said Wednesday that “the future of this program” lies in the last two classes and the 2022 class. And while the last two have been strong on paper, injuries and suspensions have slowed the progression of the 2020 class and this year’s one remains a work in progress.
The top two players in each category – safety back Avantae Williams (2020) and defensive lineman Leonard Taylor (2021) have yet to play. Williams was reinstated after dropping battery charges but remains suspended for the first half of the season. Diaz said Tayler was “learning what to do.”
Rivers, wide receiver Key’Shawn Smith, linebacker Corey Flagg, injured running back Don Chaney and defensive end Chantz Williams are among the 2020 class contributors.
âOur older guys are going to play better,â Diaz said. “They are. But we continue to grow the talent on our roster.”
Now you have to see thatâ¦ and not just on Saturday when the competition would be tougher playing an intra-team scrum.
Central state of Connecticut in Miami
12:30 p.m., BSN