Miami Football picked second in ACC Coastal by Athlon Sports

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - SEPTEMBER 19: (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - SEPTEMBER 19: (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Miami football team is picked second in the ACC Coastal Division behind North Carolina by Athlon Sports. After losing two straight games to North Carolina including a 62-26 blowout last season, the Hurricanes are going to have to prove they can defeat the Tar Heels under Mack Brown.

The Miami football team returns 19 starters. Replacing defensive ends Jaelan Phillips a first-round pick of the Dolphins and Quincy Roche a sixth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers will be the most glaring question for the Hurricanes entering the 2021 season. Will Mallory will replace Brevin Jordan at tight end.

The Miami offense improved significantly in 2020. The Hurricanes defense declined in 2020. Poor play from the Hurricanes linebackers Miami has to do a better job of limiting long rushing plays in 2021. The Hurricanes were last in the ACC in rushing plays allowed of 40, 50 and 60 plus yards.

The return of D’Eriq King as the quarterback is who Miami will build the foundation of its 2021 team. King provided the Hurricanes a dynamic presence on offense and changed the culture throughout the team. Miami did not have leadership at QB in 2019. King has changed the Miami QB room for the foreseeable future.

"“2. MiamiThe Hurricanes were a much-improved team in coach Manny Diaz’s second year at the helm. Quarterback D’Eriq King gives this team a chance to earn a trip to a New Year’s Six bowl, but the defense has to reload in order to defeat North Carolina at the top of the division.Previewing the OffenseStrength: King is recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the bowl loss to Oklahoma State, but all signs point to a full recovery. The Houston transfer is one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the nation. An improving offensive line is in place, and the receiving corps is deeper with the addition of Charleston Rambo.The ‘Canes also have a couple of options at running back.Concern: Getting King back to full strength is a must if Miami wants to win the Coastal Division. The line still has room to improve in pass protection (30 sacks allowed), and the ground game needs to take a step forward after generating just 4.2 yards per carry in 2020.True Freshman to Watch: K Andres BorregalesIncoming Transfers: WR Charleston Rambo; OL Justice OluwaseunBreakout Player: TE Will MalloryPreviewing the DefenseStrength: After Miami’s defense gave up 27 points a game and 5.8 yards per play last season, Diaz hopes to improve this unit by taking over the play-calling duties. The line has potential with Nesta Jade Silvera leading the way up front, and the secondary gets a boost at cornerback with the arrival of Georgia transfer Tyrique Stevenson.”"

Miami returns their entire offensive line and its top three running backs. The OL is not guaranteed to have the same five starters in 2021. Cam Harris will be pushed by Don Chaney Jr. and Jaylan Knighton to remain the starting RB. Chaney had offseason shoulder surgery and might not be ready for the season opener against Alabama.

Rambo provides the consistent deep threat the Hurricanes did not have in the passing game last season. Miami also returns leading receiver Mike Harley to give the Hurricanes a potentially great duo at WR. Mallory is expected to step in and completely produce at the same level Jordan did.

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Stevenson can affect the entire Miami defense. The potential for Stevenson to be a shutdown cornerback for the Hurricanes will help the pass rush. Improved linebacker play will be critical for Miami in 2021. The October 16 game at North Carolina could be the defacto 2021 ACC Coastal Division Championship Game.