The 12th-ranked University of Miami (2-0) is heading into its second consecutive primetime Saturday night game on ABC, this one at 7:30 p.m. against Florida State. But before looking ahead to this rivalry game between the Hurricanes and Seminoles, let’s look back at how UM has fared in its two games so far this season – a 47-34 victory at then 18th-ranked Louisville and a 31-14 victory over Alabama-Birmingham.
Here’s a brief UM Report Card.
D’Eriq King (34 of 54, 469 yards, four touchdowns, 0 interceptions) has been excellent as a leader. He’s completing 62.9 percent of his passes and has 20 carries for 114 yards and one touchdown. King was better against Louisville than against UAB, which is what you want.
Rush offense: A
Cam’Ron Harris (26 carries, 279 yards, three touchdowns) has scoring runs of 75 and 66 yards, and in between he’s showed patience, speed and power. Freshmen Jaylan “Rooster” Knighton (13 carries, 68 yards, one touchdown) averages 5.2 yards per carry while Donald Chaney Jr. (15 carries, 62 yards) averages 4.1 ypc. The run game has been good for short yardage and big plays. Tip your hat to the offensive line.
Pass offense: C+
Too many drops against Louisville, way too many drops. Tight ends Brevin Jordan 10 receptions, 171 yards, two touchdowns) and Will Mallory (one reception, 17 yards) became factors against Louisville. Wide receivers Mark Pope (six receptions, 82 yards), Mike Harley (five receptions, 57 yards) and Dee Wiggins (five receptions, 40 yards) have been spotty through two games. The tight ends and running backs – Knighton has one reception for a 75-yard touchdown and Harris has five receptions for 14 yards – have provided more excitement than the receivers. And tip your hat again to the offensive line. They've been decent.
Rush defense: B+
Miami has controlled two respected running games. Yes, Louisville ended with 209 yards on 49 carries and Javian Hawkins had 164 yards on 27 carries, and there were holes to run through, but the Cardinals’ running game was reduced to threatening, never reaching scary. The same goes for UAB and running back Spencer Brown (16 carries, 74 yards). Credit UM’s front four of tackles Jonathan Ford and Nesta Jade Silvera and ends Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche as well as linebackers Zach McCloud and Bradley Jennings, Jr., strikers Gilbert Frierson and Keontra Smith and hard-hitting safety Bubba Bolden.
Pass defense: C+
We still need to see more from cornerbacks Al Blades Jr., and D.J. Ivey even though they improved against Louisville. Bolden and fellow safeties Amari Carter and Gurvan Hall Jr., have been solid. We also include the solid pass rush, led by Phillips and Roche, in pass defense. But the secondary appears vulnerable. They just tighten up.
Special teams: B+
Pope’s fumbled punt return is the only blemish. Kicker Jose Borregales is money. Punter Lou Hedley has been strong. The coverage units have been good and the return units, save for that blemish, has been good.
Coach Manny Diaz hasn’t been perfect and neither have defensive coordinator Blake Baker or offensive coordinator Rhett Lashley. But they’ve been good, especially considering it’s a COVID-19 season. We haven’t seen a slew of errors such as poor tackling or lining up in the wrong spot. The 11 penalties for 89 yards against Louisville are concerning. But going for it on fourth and one against UAB and getting that 66-yard touchdown run by Harris was strong.
Miami’s mental game is strong right now. The Canes fell behind early in both games and finished strongly. UM has also stayed clean from practice- or game-canceling COVID-19 issues. Despite having personnel concerns ranging from defensive end Gregory Rousseau opting out due to COVID-19 concerns or quarterback Tate Martell leaving the team, Miami has managed to stay strong through two games.
Let’s not get carried away. If the Big Ten and Pac 12 were playing and eligible for the polls, UM wouldn’t be a Top 25 team. And we don't yet know whether Louisville is, say, a nine-win team or a six-win team. However, the Canes are off to a good two-game start. Enjoy it. We’ll have a better judgment on UM after the first five games (FSU, Clemson and Pitt are next) but for now you’ve got to be pleased with what you’ve seen from this team in many areas.