New Look Miami Offense Awaiting Louisville
In one of Louisville's worst losses of the 2019 season, Miami welcomed the Cardinals to Hard Rock Stadium and promptly greeted them with a decisive 52-27 loss that gave the Hurricanes bowl eligibility.
But for better or for worse, the No. 17 Hurricanes (1-0, 0-0 ACC) will be throwing out a completely different offense when they make the trip up to Cardinal Stadium this weekend to take on the No. 18 Cardinals (1-0, 0-0 ACC) in front of ESPN's College GameDay.
Then-quarterback Jarren Williams, who threw for a Miami record six touchdowns in last year's affair, transferred out of Coral Gables following the end of the 2019 season. But the Canes found themselves a more than worthy replacement.
D'Eriq King became one of the most sought-after graduate transfers in the country when he announced he would be leaving the University of Houston. In 34 games as a Cougar; he amassed 6,346 yards of total offense, threw 50 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions and rushed for an additional 28 more.
"What they've done adding (D'Eriq) King to their offense is dynamic," defensive coordinator Bryan Brown said. "He's a young football player that can throw the throw the football deep, short, as well as run with his legs. That puts a lot of pressure on the defense."
What makes King even harder to deal with from a team standpoint is that Miami is far from a one-dimensional team that is reliant on throwing the ball. After averaging just 118.1 yards per game on the ground last season, the Hurricane rushing attack is on fire to start the season - accumulating 337 rushing yards in their 31-14 season opening win against the UAB Blazers.
"That run game is awesome," Brown said. "Those guys do a great job up front of opening holes for their three dynamic backs that they have. We have to do a great job of having gap integrity."
That's not the only update to Miami's offense since their last meeting with the Cardinals. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee came over from SMU in the offseason, and brought his up tempo offensive system with him. In his Orange & Green debut, the Canes ran 78 offensive plays - well over their 64.9 average in 2019.
"It presents a challenge for any defense when a team goes really, really fast," Brown said. "It challenges your stamina, it challenges your mental capacity, you know, can you think at a fast pace when things are flying and going really, really fast."
While it's hard for the Cardinals to simulate game reps in a practice setting, especially for an offense like Miami's, Brown notes that the scout team has done an "excellent job" during the week leading up to the game, and that the players have been "responding very well" to the uptick in tempo.
On top of that, facing quarterback Micale Cunningham every day in practice gives the defense a bit of an advantage when facing a fellow dual threat signal caller like D'Eriq King.
"(Micale) is athletic, he can run the ball, he can do everything. He can pass too," senior defensive end Tabarius Peterson said. "Going against (Micale) definitely has been a tool for us to use against (D'Eriq) King."
Kickoff for Louisville's ACC opener against Miami is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m. on ABC.
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