Miami football sense of urgency versus Alabama season opener

1 JAN 1993: MandatoryCredit: Tim Defrisco/ALLSPORT
1 JAN 1993: MandatoryCredit: Tim Defrisco/ALLSPORT /

Head coach Manny Diaz told Packer and Durham on the ACC Network on Monday that the Miami football program faces a sense of urgency during the offseason with the 2021 opener against Alabama. The Crimson Tide and Hurricanes will kick off the season on September 4 at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Sam Marsdale of 247Sports transcribed part of the interview Diaz did with Packer and Durham. Miami will open with an SEC opponent for the third time in the last four seasons. The Hurricanes lost to LSU in Arlington, Texas in the 2018 season opener and to Florida in 2019 in Orlando.

Diaz joked with Packer and Durham the quarterback D’Eriq King will be ready to play Alabama even if he has to be on crutches. King tore his ACL in the final game of the 2020 season in the Cheez-It Bowl loss to Oklahoma State. The culture of the Miami football team has changed with the presence of King.

Miami will have the edge in experience over Alabama with 19 returning starters. The Crimson Tide won their sixth title in 12 seasons under Nick Saban in 2020. Alabama defeated Miami 33-13 in the 1993 Sugar Bowl for the National Championship the last time the programs met. Alabama’s first National Championship since 1979.

"“It’s great because that adds a great sense of urgency to our entire offseason program. Really, what you’re talking about is how do we get us to the level that we want to get Miami at? If we concern ourselves about Miami, ultimately we’ll play better no matter what the opposition is.We have a lot of respect for what they’ve done there at Alabama. We know that will be a difficult contest. It’s still a new year. There’s new players on both teams. Look, if you want to be the best, you’ve got to play the best, and we’re excited to go line up against those guys.”"

Alabama often plays in big games in the season opener. The Crimson Tide have played their season opener at a neutral site against other Power Five teams since 2011 with the exception of 2020 when they opened at Missouri with their remade, entirely SEC schedule. Alabama finished the season 13-0.

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Miami finished 8-3 in 2020 which was a big improvement on and off the field from a 6-7, 2019 season. In the second year under head coach Manny Diaz and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, Miami is expecting to have more development in 2020. The decision by King to return in 2021 was a huge boost for the Hurricanes.