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Do The 2018 Miami Hurricanes Have An Identity?

Alex Donno
September 13, 2018 - 10:46 am

The Miami Hurricanes have a 1-1 record and a Number 21 ranking. There are two knee-jerk reactions that can be drawn from the way this season has begun.

Glass half empty

If you become a "prisoner of the moment" during their uninspiring 33-17 loss to LSU, you believe this is a team that will struggle against decent opposition all year, and potentially fall short even of the ACC Coastal title, let alone the ACC Championship. They can't block, they can't punt, and the quarterback is completely lost.. Surely, those thoughts still run through your head. 

Glass half full

But, if you became a prisoner of the moment during their 77-0 thrashing of Savannah State, you probably believe backup quarterback N'Kosi Perry is about to ride in on his white horse and save the day. Now, we can immediately turn the page on the Rosier era, and pretend LSU never happened. After all, we can still make the College Football Playoff if we run the table.  Sound familiar?

The truth is...

We really don't know who the 2018 Miami Hurricanes are. Not yet, anyway. While I cannot completely discount the negatives from the LSU loss, I do put a certain amount of faith in the coaching staff to adjust from those shortcomings, and in the players to learn from that experience. 

As for the Savannah State game - while I admit that N'Kosi Perry looked sharpest among the four quarterbacks - I realize it will be a work in progress before the coaching staff is ready to hand him the reins. 

In Miami's official depth chart for Toledo this Saturday, Rosier is still listed as quarterback one, with Perry as the second stringer. You should not be shocked or angered by this. Rosier's experience still gives him a certain benefit of the doubt from Mark Richt. But make no mistake about it, Rosier's leash is getting shorter. 

Richt had this to say about Rosier on Tuesday: “The bottom line is, we’re going to play who we think gives us best chance of winning. As long as he is that, he’ll start. If we think someone else gives us a better chance to win, we’ll start that guy.”

That's not what you would call a ringing endorsement, is it? The opportunity for Perry to overtake him is there, but he has to earn it. 

Perry has and will continue to get some first team snaps in practice. Treat every snap as if it's your own personal college football playoff. That goes for both Perry and Rosier, of course. In games, Perry has a chance for playing time against Toledo and FIU if A) Miami scores big and the game isn't close in the second half or B) Malik Rosier struggles to the point where Richt has to try something different. Remember when Richt benched Rosier against Pittsburgh last season to bring in Evan Shirreffs? At least this time, Perry might be able to provide the spark that Shirreffs couldn't. 

Miami's identity will be

When they hit their midseason form, I envision these 2018 Miami Hurricanes as a speedy, smothering defensive team with an unstoppable running game and big play potential through the passing game. 

Miami debuted their new-look turnover chain against SSU, with the diamond-studded Ibis making four appearances on the night. They still have a long way to go after leading the nation in turnover margin in 2017, but it's a start. Sophomore CB Trajan Bandy, the first to put on the chain this season, should have a special year.

We've already seen what senior defensive tackle Gerald Willis is capable of. Despite Miami getting dominated by LSU in the opener, Willis may have been the best player on the field that night. 

At defensive end, Joe Jackson has been quiet so far, but will likely hit his stride soon. The junior has been one of Miami's best players over the past two seasons. At linebacker, Miami has a trio that can rival anyone in the country. 

Offensively, the Savannah State game gave Hurricanes fans some serious hope as to how special 5-star freshman running back Lorenzo Lingard can be. He's a track star with track speed to go along with his natural insticts at reading blocks and reversing his field when the opportunity presents itself. Between Lingard, Travis Homer and Deejay Dallas, Miami is beyond healthy at running back. 

At wide receiver, Jeff Thomas is virtually impossible to cover and has the speed to make plays in the open field. You saw him hit a second or even third gear in his long touchdown against SSU. Ahmmon Richards barely played against LSU and missed the SSU game entirely. If he can get and stay healthy, Miami's one-two punch of Thomas and Richards will give nightmares to opposing coaches. 

And I can't leave out the tight end spot. We saw touchdowns from both true freshmen: Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory. If all goes to plan, they'll spend at least three years together to become an even more dangerous version of the David Njoku / Chris Herndon tandem from 2016. 

The bottom line

Miami has winnable games coming up against Toledo, FIU and even a struggling North Carolina. The schedule presents a welcomed opportunity for this team to grow together on the field. By the time the Canes face rival FSU on October 6th, you'll either have a new starting quarterback entirely, or a more motivated version of Malik Rosier.

Miami doesn't have an identity just yet, and I'm looking forward to seeing what this team can become. 

The Canes will face the Toledo Rockets this Saturday at High Noon. You can listen to the game on 560 WQAM, with our pregame coverage beginning Saturday morning at 8:00 AM.