Miami football rise in ESPN FPI due to 19 returning starters

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 07: (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 07: (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /
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The ESPN Football Power Index takes into account the amount of returning experience a program has especially at quarterback. The Miami football team returning 19 starters plus QB D’Eriq King led to their rise in the adjusted FPI released earlier this week. ESPN realized data and modeling errors in FPI released this spring.

The Miami football program rose from 20th in the initial FPI for the 2021 season to 10th in the updated list released on Thursday. Miami had the biggest move up among top 20 teams. ESPN defines the FPI as “FPI is a predictive rating system designed to measure team strength and project performance going forward.

ESPN continues to explain the determining data in the FPI. “Each team’s FPI rating is composed of a predicted offensive, defensive and special teams component. These ratings represent the number of points each unit is expected to contribute to the team’s net scoring margin on a neutral field against an average FBS opponent.

In the preseason, these components are made up entirely of data from previous seasons, such as returning starters, past performance, recruiting rankings and coaching tenure.” The last sentence all involves positives for Miami. Miami returns nearly all of its production on offense and defense.

Tight end Brevin Jordan was the only starter and player with significant production lost on offense. Will Mallory returns to inherit first-team TE from Jordan. On defense Miami has to replace 2021 NFL Draft picks, defensive ends Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche. Kicker Jose Borregales also departed for the NFL.

Miami is the second-ranked team in the ACC in the FPI behind Clemson who is second nationally. North Carolina who is the consensus favorite in the ACC Coastal Division is 14th in the FPI. Miami returns 91 percent of its 2020 production. The Hurricanes return 95 percent of its offensive production and 86 percent on defense.

The biggest task for Miami will be replacing the pass rush generated by Phillips and Roche. Miami had 12.5 of its 30 sacks in 2020 from the pass-rushing tandem. Tennessee transfer DeAndre Johnson and Zach McCloud who moved from LB late in the 2020 season are the projected starters at defensive end.

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The FPI gives Miami a 47.3 percent chance to win the ACC Coastal, a 10 percent chance to win the ACC and a 6.3 percent chance to make the College Football Playoff. The Hurricanes would likely have to finish the regular season with one loss or upset Clemson in the ACC Championship Game for a spot in the CFP.