Manny Diaz has pieces in place for turnaround 2020 season

MIAMI, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 09: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 09: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Miami’s 2019 season, highlighted by a dominant win against arch-rival Florida State, and an impressive win against Louisville, came crashing down during its conclusion. Head Coach Manny Diaz and has made many changes to repair some of the team’s biggest needs.

After an embarrassing loss to FIU and lackluster showings against Duke and Louisiana Tech, many Miami football fans questioned whether head coach Manny Diaz was the right man to lead their team. With the 2020 season still months away, that’s still clearly a question that doesn’t have an answer yet.

If Diaz and the Canes fall flat in 2020, it won’t be because the head coach and his staff mismanaged this offseason. One large reason for Miami’s atrocious 6-7 finish in 2019 was poor quarterback play down the stretch.

Jarren Williams shined for Miami in the Louisville win but struggled mightily against FIU, only to do the same against Duke, and be benched in the loss to LA Tech. Just one day after the shoutout defeat to the Bulldogs, offensive coordinator Dan Enos was dismissed.

Enos’ replacement was the first major move by the Canes following the season. SMU’s Rhett Lashlee was announced as Miami’s new offensive coordinator on January 3rd. His prolific spread offense led the SMU Mustangs to an 8-0 start in 2019.

The biggest piece of the 2020 puzzle fell later that month when it’d be discovered who’d lead that offense under center. Houston transfer QB D’Eriq King announced his commitment to Miami for his final year of eligibility on January 20. King finished the 2018 season seventh among all FBS quarterbacks with 36 touchdown passes.

After playing four games with the Cougars in 2019, King smartly opted to sit out and maintain his eligibility for the following year. Consequently, Miami was able to secure one of the best transfer quarterbacks available to lead its 2020 offense.

Quarterback wasn’t the only area that needed improvement. Miami’s offensive line was in desperate need of a makeover. The 2019 Hurricanes OL allowed a whopping 51 sacks, the fourth-worst mark in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Six months after Miami’s season came to an end, the Hurricanes have a completely different outlook to protect King. Shortly after the arrival of Lashlee, Miami brought in UNLV’s Garin Justice to coach the offensive line. In May, the Canes were able to land four-star and Florida transfer Issiah Walker Jr.

Just last week, the Canes also landed one of King’s former teammates, tackle Jarrid Williams, who will be eligible and able to make an impact immediately. Walker may have to sit out the season unless granted a waiver, as the tackle enrolled at Florida before entering the portal and choosing Miami.

Miami’s defense is led by star defensive end Gregory Rousseau, who only trailed Ohio State Heisman finalist Chase Young for sacks with 15.5. But the future first-round pick isn’t the Hurricanes only star coming off the edge anymore.

With Rousseau drawing much of the attention from opposing offensive lines, the addition of Quincy Roche figures to pay huge dividends for Miami. Roche was five spots behind Rousseau among sack leaders with a dominant 13 sacks last season for Temple. Roche announced his move to The U the same day King did.

Rousseau and Roche are set up perfectly to complement each other en route to leading a lethal pass rush for Miami. Many of the criticisms of head coach Manny Diaz were justified, following a horrifying end to the 2019 season.

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Through coaching changes from within the program, along with major transfer acquisitions, Diaz and the Hurricanes’ staff have had an ideal offseason and set up Miami as well as possible for 2020.