Miami Hurricanes special teams lead FBS through two games

MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 05: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 05: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Through the first two games of the 2020 season, the Miami Hurricanes special teams have been the best in college football.

One of the biggest tasks for Manny Diaz since being hired as the Miami Hurricanes head coach has been to rebuild the special teams. Through the first two games of 2020, Miami has the highest-rated special teams in college football. Led by punter Louis Headley and kicker Jose Borreagales the Miami special teams have been elite.

Borragales received all the accolades after kicking four field goals including a Miami record-tying 57-yard FG in the 47-35 victory over Louisville. Borregales’ excellence has been more than making field goals. Borregales has also been elite on kickoffs. Headley has yet to have a punt returned in 2020.

Hedley currently ranks fourth in FBS averaging 45.78 yards per punt. The fact that none of his nine punts through two games has been returned is remarkable. Miami does not qualify as a team because none of their punts have been returned, but the Hurricanes punt coverage would be tied for fifth allowing zero yards per game.

Borreagales has been a revelation for Miami after the inconsistencies the Hurricanes had at kicker the last two seasons. With five field goals through two games, Borregales already has as many as 2019 first-team kicker Bubba Baxa had all of last season. Borregales has not missed an attempt through two games.

Against Louisville, Borregales made field goals of 22, 48 and 40 in addition to the 57-yarder. Borreagales has also been among the national leaders averaging 64.06 yards on kickoffs to rank 11th out of 48 qualifiers. ESPN SP+ guru Bill Connelly who developed the metric summarized Miami’s improved special teams.

"Miami — yes, Miami — is No. 1 in special teams“Last year, Manny Diaz’s Miami Hurricanes ranked 94th in special teams SP+, and honestly, that felt high. Missed kicks were devastating and played a key role in their losing five one-score games. Watching transfer Jose Borregales bomb in a couple of long field goals against Louisville, then, felt pretty jarring.So, too, is their current No. 1 ranking in special teams SP+.As you see, special teams aren’t worth much in the SP+ equation early on — it’s far too much of a small-sample exercise to be very predictive — but Miami’s ranking is noteworthy all the same. If Diaz has fixed The U’s offensive and special teams woes, this is an awfully intriguing team.”"

The special teams’ coverage units for Miami have been exceptional. Miami is averaging 16.75 yards per kickoff return against to rank 12th nationally which is in line with where Borregales has ranked on his kickoffs. Miami has not been as good returning kicks in 2020. Miami is 19th averaging 7.5 yards per punt return.

The only turnover Miami has had in 2020 was after Mark Pope fumbled on a punt return trying to do too much against UAB. Miami is ranks 20th nationally out of 49 teams averaging 20.5 yards per kickoff return. Both return units could improve. The loss of K.J. Osborn from the 2019 team was big on punt returns.

With the problems the Hurricanes had at kicker in 2019 and punter in 2018, Miami has one of the best tandems in the country this season with Hedley and Borregales. Manny Diaz knows he can rely on both. Borregales makes the Miami offense much better and takes a lot of pressure off them.

dark. Next. Miami football primary goal to wear down opponents

Hedley not allowing a punt return in 2020 takes pressure of the Hurricanes defense. It helps field position and flips the field much quicker for Miami. Special teams coach Jonathan Patke has done an excellent job all-around. Once Pope becomes a more reliable return specialist the SP+ numbers on special teams will improve more.