ESPN explains how Miami football can make 2021 CFP run

Dec 5, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports /

In an article published Wednesday morning, ESPN explained “How the 2021 Way-Too-Early college football top 25 teams can make a playoff run.”  The Miami football program ranks 25 in the way too early ESPN Top 25 behind programs like Coastal Carolina, Liberty and Louisiana. Miami has to prove themselves on the field.

ESPN acknowledged the step up the Miami football program took in 2020 improving from 6-7 in 2019 to 8-3 in 2020. The fair criticism was how the Hurricanes performed in blowout losses to Clemson and North Carolina last season. For Miami to take a step forward in 2021 they have to win or at least be competitive in big games.

No one will expect Miami to defeat Alabama in the 2021 season opener. Quarterback D’Eriq King is coming off a torn ACL suffered against Oklahoma State in the Hurricanes 37-34 loss to Oklahoma State in the Cheez-it Bowl. The other big question for Miami is having to replace their star pair of edge rushers.

Quincy Roche and second-team All-American Jaelan Phillips are expected to be first or second-day picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. Miami added cornerback Tyrique Stevenson, defensive end DeAndre Johnson and wide receiver Charleston Rambo as transfers to upgrade the talent at those much-needed positions.

"25. Miami HurricanesThe Hurricanes beat everyone they were supposed to beat in 2020, which represented a big step up for Manny Diaz’s team in his second year as head coach. But in big games against Clemson and UNC — the top competition in its conference — Miami was outscored by a combined 104-43 margin.Diaz has utilized the transfer portal to Miami’s benefit, and if D’Eriq King is healthy for the start of 2021, the Canes will certainly be in the mix. But much progress needs to be made at outside receiver and in the middle of the defense — along with replacing two star pass-rushers — if Miami is going to compete for a division or league title. — (David) Hale"

Stevenson upgrades the talent and adds depth that was desperately needed at CB. Johnson will help replace Phillips and Roche, but should not be expected to post the same numbers they did. Rambo gives Miami a much needed proven receiver who is a threat to blow off the top of a defense.

The middle of the defense still has problems. Miami did not add a linebacker through the transfer portal. Everyone is expected to return at the position led by 2020 starters Bradley Jennings Jr. and Zack McCloud who is entering his sixth season with Miami and could move to defensive end in 2021.

Next. Miami football can move on with Tate Martell officially entering transfer portal. dark

McCloud had two tackles against the Cowboys. Jennings finished seventh on the team and led the Miami LBs with 39 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Getting better play from their LB corps is critical for the Miami defense to improve in 2021. The Hurricanes took a huge step back defensively in 2020.