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Mark Richt's first year with Miami could go in a lot of different directions

The Hurricanes made a very sensible hire, but it's hard to say if it will pay quick dividends. This is Bill C.'s 128-team college football preview. Here's more on the ACC!

Joe Skipper/Getty Images

Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.

1. "That makes sense."

Every coaching search takes on its own identity over time. Maybe there's an obvious front-runner from the start. Maybe there are 20 semi-sensible names. Maybe the fan base adopts one particular name while administration works from a completely different list.

Occasionally, a perfectly sensible name comes out of the blue.

From the moment Al Golden was formally done as Miami's head coach, a lot of names got tossed around. A large section of the fan base clamored for former Miami head coach Butch Davis, the architect of the Hurricanes' last run of dominance. We saw Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen's name. Former Rutgers and Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano. Former FIU head coach and 'Cane player Mario Cristobal. Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

Then Georgia fired Mark Richt. And within about three days, Richt was Miami's man.

Richt is a Miami alum who won 145 games over 15 years with Georgia. For those who were suitably spooked by Davis' NCAA issue at North carolina, Richt is the perfect antidote; he's won nearly twice as many games as Davis as a college head coach, and from an NCAA perspective, he did so while staying cleaner than just about any other major winner in that span. He's 56, which means he could have 10-15 years left in the tank if things go well.

After weighing the pros and cons of the Davises and Schianos of the world, Richt's name emerged, and the reaction was simply, "Ah, that makes sense."

Richt is a strong, proven coach. He's also a coach who could benefit from a fresh start. His marriage with Georgia grew stale, as most 15-year coaching marriages tend to do, with issues popping up just frequently enough to create memes. He "lost control!" of his program too many times to count. He made some great coordinator hires and some incredibly not-great ones. He proved himself a consistent winner but lost enough big games that he could be painted with college football's most ridiculous brush: "He can't win the big one!"

(Why is it ridiculous? Because almost everyone's season is done in because of some loss, and as fans, we tend to just add up those losses as "big ones" without noting how many games a coach won to make the "big one" matter. Richt won a lot of big games at UGA. He also lost a lot.)

Richt was successful enough to lose a lot of assistant coaches; as with hiring a head coach, every time you hire a new assistant, you run the risk of making an iffy choice, and Richt certainly made a few in Athens. His first staff at Miami is an interesting mix of proven entities (defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski), veterans with spotty recent records (offensive line coach Stacy Searels), unproven guys in larger roles (offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, safeties coach Ephraim Banda), and alums (cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph).

Richt won at least 10 games in 10 of the last 14 seasons at UGA; Miami incredibly hasn't pulled that off since 2003. The Hurricanes haven't won enough in recent years to even worry about having a coach who can or cannot "win the big one." Richt will almost certainly raise the bar at The U beyond where it's been since the midway point of Larry Coker's tenure. We'll worry about whether he can clear that bar at a later date.

2015 Schedule & Results

Record: 8-5 | Adj. Record: 9-4 | Final F/+ Rk: 62 | Final S&P+ Rk: 51
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Win
Expectancy
vs. S&P+ Performance
vs. Vegas
5-Sep Bethune-Cookman N/A 45-0 W 94% 100% +21.8
11-Sep at Florida Atlantic 96 44-20 W 87% 98% +8.6 +6.5
19-Sep Nebraska 36 36-33 W 81% 90% -0.6 -0.5
1-Oct at Cincinnati 72 23-34 L 42% 22% -27.2 -17.5
10-Oct at Florida State 12 24-29 L 39% 5% +12.1 +4.0
17-Oct Virginia Tech 59 30-20 W 71% 76% +7.1 +4.0
24-Oct Clemson 2 0-58 L 4% 0% -43.2 -51.0
31-Oct at Duke 74 30-27 W 68% 64% +19.7 +3.0
7-Nov Virginia 78 27-21 W 75% 92% -7.6 +6.0
14-Nov at North Carolina 24 21-59 L 23% 1% -28.7 -26.0
21-Nov Georgia Tech 64 38-21 W 84% 97% +11.0 +19.0
27-Nov at Pittsburgh 46 29-24 W 65% 64% +11.2 +11.0
26-Dec vs. Washington State 54 14-20 L 70% 69% -9.9 -3.5

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 32.5 45 26.6 54
Points Per Game 27.8 71 28.2 77

2. The breaking point

Sometimes you need a definitive event. Al Golden, on the hot seat for seemingly years heading into 2015, was on his way to another seven- to eight-win season, something questionable enough to infuriate fans and just decent enough to perhaps sway administrators.

Sometimes we get stuck in limbo, waiting for the other shoe to drop. You're waiting for either a breakthrough win or a breakthrough loss. Perhaps luckily for Miami, Clemson came to town and the other shoe indeed fell.

Dabo Swinney's awesome Tigers destroyed Miami in every way a team can be destroyed, and Golden was gone. Interim coach Larry Scott took over, and Miami was basically the exact same team as it was pre-Clemson.

  • Miami before Clemson:
    Record: 4-2 | Average percentile performance: 69% (~top 40) | Yards per play: UM 6.4, Opp 5.9
  • Miami after Clemson:
    Record: 4-2 | Average percentile performance: 64% (~top 45) | Yards per play: UM 6.0, Opp 5.6

Golden was 0-5 against Florida State and got blown out in his only chances against Notre Dame (in 2012) and Clemson (in 2015). That's not really the best way to ingratiate yourself to the fanbase. And in the middle of another decent-not-great season, Golden's last game was one final pantsing.

Granted, Richt had his own issues with a Florida-based rival at Georgia...

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.38 20 IsoPPP+ 105.9 48
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 40.3% 82 Succ. Rt. + 102.7 63
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 28.0 31 Def. FP+ 27.7 28
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 4.3 86 Redzone S&P+ 92.7 102
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 21.5 ACTUAL 14 -7.5
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 67 54 63 48
RUSHING 117 117 112 118
PASSING 29 17 12 21
Standard Downs 49 64 41
Passing Downs 60 50 65
Q1 Rk 53 1st Down Rk 47
Q2 Rk 69 2nd Down Rk 32
Q3 Rk 84 3rd Down Rk 56
Q4 Rk 52

3. A Thomas Brown offense

Thomas Brown only just turned 30 years old. The 2008 UGA grad rushed for 2,646 yards and 23 touchdowns under Richt in the mid-2000s, and after spending a couple of years in the pros, he initiated what has been a rather quick-rising coaching career. He was Georgia's assistant strength and conditioning coach in 2011, then coached running backs at Chattanooga (2012), Marshall (2013), Wisconsin (2014), and Georgia (2015).

Granted, he's inherited pretty strong running back units at each step of his career, but his guys have still produced. At Marshall, the trio of Essray Taliaferro, Steward Butler, and Kevin Grooms rushed for 2,408 yards at 6 yards per carry. At Wisconsin, Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement rushed for 3,536 yards at 7.2 per carry. And at Georgia last year, despite the midseason loss of star Nick Chubb and massive passing game troubles, Chubb, Sony Michel and Keith Marshall still combined for 2,258 yards at 6 per carry.

Brown's record as a running backs coach is good. His record as an offensive coordinator is completely unknown, as this is his first year in that job. Richt will call plays, but it sounds like Brown will shape and install the system. Via the Miami Herald:

"He's going to call the plays,'' Brown said of the head coach on Wednesday, when asked how the new system will work. "I'm going to organize everything else from the offensive coordinator's standpoint and obviously from an install concept. I'm going to introduce those concepts to the players and be able to coach it that way."

If his influences tell us anything, it's that we'll be looking at a pro-style attack of sorts, with plenty of two-back looks and vertical potential in the passing game. But while Brown spent the last two years helping strong backs run the ball well without much of a passing threat, at Miami, he inherits a great passer and a run game that was mostly dreadful last year.

It doesn't make much sense to say it, but it's true. Miami's run game was a true "whole less than the some of the parts" attack. Joe Yearby is a great receiver out of the backfield, and Mark Walton was a 2015 blue-chipper. And there are a few former four-star recruits on the offensive line. But only 35% of Yearby/Walton's carries gained five yards, one in five Miami rushes either lost yardage or gained nothing, and the Hurricanes ranked a miserable 117th in Rushing S&P+.

That everybody's back will help. Yearby and Walton return, as does Gus Edwards, who missed the 2015 season with injury. Those three, plus efficiency back Trayone Gray and incoming freshman Travis Homer should give Brown plenty of options. Plus, those responsible for 63 of 65 of last year's line starts are back. [Update: Gray will miss the 2016 season with a torn ACL.]

Edwards' return is big -- he is an explosive back in a 240-pound package (assuming he's 100 percent recovered from last year's foot injury) -- and if Brown can figure out how to establish the run, then the passing game will be devastating. But it's hard to go from 117th to establishing the run.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Brad Kaaya 6'4, 210 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9356 238 389 3238 16 5 61.2% 16 4.0% 7.7
Malik Rosier 6'1, 218 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8438 29 57 338 2 3 50.9% 3 5.0% 5.2
Evan Shirreffs 6'5, 200 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8206
Jack Allison 6'5, 193 Fr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9253

4. And if the run doesn't work, you've still got Kaaya

That Miami still ranked 45th in Off. S&P+ without any sort of run game was impressive and revealing. Quarterback Brad Kaaya posted at least a 132 passer rating in eight games last year, and despite a midseason concussion suffered against Clemson, he helped the Hurricanes to a No. 17 Passing S&P+ ranking. Largely thanks to him, Miami is in a pretty good place on offense.

Kaaya has been asked to be a leader since the first game of his true freshman season, and he has mostly responded well to the role. He struggled on passing downs (and faced plenty of them), but his first- and second-down success (66 percent completion rate, 152.4 passer rating) hints at what he could be capable of if he has any run game to play off of.

With a rather new receiving corps at his disposal, Kaaya completed 29 of 45 passes for 345 yards in the spring game. I'm not sure how much he will improve on passing downs with new options out wide, but there's a decent chance that Miami is able to establish one of the better standard downs offenses in the country.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Joseph Yearby RB 5'9, 207 Jr. 4 stars (6.0) 0.9767 205 1002 6 4.9 4.4 39.0% 0 0
Mark Walton RB 5'9, 195 So. 4 stars (6.0) 0.9588 130 461 9 3.5 3.7 27.7% 5 2
Gus Edwards
(2014)
RB 6'2, 241 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8569 61 349 6 5.7 6.4 36.1% 1 1
Trayone Gray RB 6'2, 220 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8576 24 145 2 6.0 4.9 45.8% 1 0
Brad Kaaya QB 6'4, 210 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9356 14 4 2 0.3 6.3 7.1% 7 2
Malik Rosier QB 6'1, 218 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8438 11 22 0 2.0 1.1 27.3% 0 0
Braxton Berrios WR 5'9, 180 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8818 4 72 0 18.0 27.3 50.0% 0 0
Walter Tucker FB 4 8 0 2.0 0.5 25.0% 1 0
Gage Batten FB 6'1, 235 Sr. NR NR
Cory Giordano FB 6'1, 235 RSFr. NR NR
Travis Homer RB 5'11, 195 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.9081







Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
Yds/
Target
%SD Success
Rate
IsoPPP
Rashawn Scott WR 85 52 695 61.2% 19.5% 8.2 57.6% 48.2% 1.55
Herb Waters WR 66 41 624 62.1% 15.1% 9.5 65.2% 42.4% 2.07
Stacy Coley SLOT 6'1, 193 Sr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9714 65 47 689 72.3% 14.9% 10.6 69.2% 55.4% 1.68
David Njoku TE 6'4, 240 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8478 37 21 362 56.8% 8.5% 9.8 54.1% 45.9% 2.03
Joseph Yearby RB 5'9, 207 Jr. 4 stars (6.0) 0.9767 33 23 273 69.7% 7.6% 8.3 48.5% 42.4% 1.69
Christopher Herndon IV TE 6'5, 254 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8550 31 18 237 58.1% 7.1% 7.6 71.0% 45.2% 1.65
Mark Walton RB 5'9, 195 So. 4 stars (6.0) 0.9588 29 22 293 75.9% 6.7% 10.1 41.4% 51.7% 1.88
Tyre Brady WR 19 9 112 47.4% 4.4% 5.9 42.1% 42.1% 1.35
Braxton Berrios SLOT 5'9, 180 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8818 18 12 86 66.7% 4.1% 4.8 61.1% 50.0% 0.84
Lawrence Cager WR 6'5, 213 So. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8894 18 8 70 44.4% 4.1% 3.9 55.6% 27.8% 1.40
Standish Dobard TE 6'4, 265 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.9082 16 8 90 50.0% 3.7% 5.6 62.5% 43.8% 1.03
Malcolm Lewis SLOT 5'10, 197 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9028 12 5 47 41.7% 2.8% 3.9 83.3% 41.7% 0.93
Darrell Langham WR 6'4, 236 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8672
Dayall Harris WR 6'0, 185 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) NR
Sam Bruce SLOT 5'8, 180 Fr. 4 stars (6.0) 0.9572
Ahmmon Richards WR 6'1, 171 Fr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9307
Dionte Mullins WR 5'10, 180 Fr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9227
Jovani Haskins TE 6'4, 235 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8777
Michael Irvin Jr. TE 6'3, 220 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8599

5. So ... about that receiving corps

Miami improved in Passing S&P+ in 2015 despite Kaaya replacing his top three targets. Last year's top two targets had combined for just 20 catches the year before. So while it's never good to have to replace your top two guys, we know that Kaaya has at least been here before.

Stacy Coley returns after thriving in the slot in 2015, and tight ends David Njoku and Chris Herndon IV and running backs Yearby and Walton all averaged at least 7.6 yards per target. Coley was a possession option with explosiveness, and after an up-and-down career at UM, he could be ready for a massive senior season.

We don't know much of anything about the rest of the wide receivers, though. Braxton Berrios was reasonably efficient as Coley's backup, and Lawrence Cager caught eight passes as a four-star backup. But that's pretty much it. Blue-chip freshman Sam Bruce could make a quick impact, but aside from Cager and maybe sophomore Darrell Langham, there's little in the way of size out wide. [Update: Cager tore his ACL and is out for the season.]

Still, the possession options could come in handy if the running game still isn't quite where it needs to be. And if the run is good enough to suck defenses into play-action scenarios, there's more than enough speed to get open deep.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 88.7 2.52 2.75 34.2% 55.3% 21.4% 158.2 2.6% 5.5%
Rank 113 115 104 110 117 91 20 20 25
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. 2015 Starts Career Starts Honors/Notes
Danny Isidora RG 6'4, 310 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8861 13 26
Nick Linder C 6'3, 300 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8378 13 17
Trevor Darling LT 6'4, 316 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9541 13 14
Sunny Odogwu RT 6'8, 325 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8500 10 10
KC McDermott LG 6'7, 300 Jr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9764 8 8
Alex Gall LG 6'5, 305 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8489 6 6
Joe Brown RG 2 2
Hunter Knighton C 6'5, 290 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8473 0 0
Tyree St. Louis RT 6'5, 305 So. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8984 0 0
Jahair Jones RT 6'4, 325 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8614 0 0
Tyler Gauthier RG 6'5, 300 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8442 0 0
Bar Milo LT 6'6, 285 RSFr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9107

Brendan Loftus OL 6'7, 290 RSFr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8518

Hayden Mahoney LG 6'5, 290 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8494


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Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.15 16 IsoPPP+ 101.3 60
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 45.5% 102 Succ. Rt. + 98.4 69
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 31.2 40 Off. FP+ 31.2 35
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 4.6 80 Redzone S&P+ 92.7 100
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 23.2 ACTUAL 25.0 +1.8
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 69 70 69 60
RUSHING 103 115 107 110
PASSING 38 33 27 32
Standard Downs 89 96 77
Passing Downs 21 15 28
Q1 Rk 88 1st Down Rk 50
Q2 Rk 58 2nd Down Rk 54
Q3 Rk 36 3rd Down Rk 87
Q4 Rk 93

6. A Manny Diaz defense

"Most teams all meld into one. There's such a thing as a 'college football offense;' 90 percent of America runs 60 percent of the same plays. So we're going to say, 'What do they do that is unique, by play or formation? If you've got a kid that's been sick all week, and he shows up on Thursday and asks what this team does differently, we'll be able to tell them." [...]

"We want you to beat us left-handed because we're going to stop the one thing you do best. There's not enough time to practice all of your running plays against all of the stuff we have."

The ethos behind a Manny Diaz defense is simple: Attack them before they can attack you. If the offense is reacting to what the defense is doing, instead of the other way around, then that's a victory right out of the gates.

When he has the right attacking personnel, Diaz can do impressive things. His 2009 MTSU defense cracked the Def. S&P+ top 50, his first Texas defense in 2011 ranked seventh, and in his one season at Louisiana Tech in 2014, he engineered improvement from 109th to 24th.

A Diaz defense is going to spend quite a bit of time behind the line of scrimmage, even when it doesn't totally click. Last year, in his first season back at Mississippi State, his Bulldog D ranked only 40th, combining characteristic aggressiveness (18 percent havoc rate, 98 tackles for loss) with a more flexible than normal pass defense (61 percent completion rate, 122.7 passer rating). And like Brown, he inherits a unit that is the opposite of what he might be used to.

As with the Miami offense, the opponent had the advantage when the ball was handed off, and Miami had the advantage when the ball was in the air. The Hurricanes ranked 115th in Rushing S&P+, 122nd in power success rate, and 127th in stuff rate. No lineman made more than 3.5 non-sack tackles for loss, and opponents got a running start at the Miami defense. When the Hurricanes were able to force passing downs, they closed out drives incredibly well. But passing downs were far more rare than they should have been.

Diaz's first defense will feature a lot of experience in the front seven (where there were struggles) and some turnover in the back. It will be interesting to how much havoc the 'Canes are able to wreak after a relatively feckless 2015.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 90.8 3.50 2.92 46.1% 80.0% 13.4% 105.7 4.9% 6.1%
Rank 103 127 41 125 122 127 51 70 88
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Al-Quadin Muhammad DE 6'4, 250 Jr. 4 stars (6.0) 0.9750 12 44.0 6.4% 8.5 5.0 0 1 1 0
Trent Harris DE 6'2, 240 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8987 13 38.5 5.6% 5.0 3.5 0 1 0 0
Ufomba Kamalu DE 13 34.5 5.0% 4.0 1.0 0 0 1 1
Calvin Heurtelou DT 13 20.5 3.0% 3.0 0.5 0 0 0 0
Courtel Jenkins DT 6'2, 320 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8425 12 19.0 2.8% 3.0 1.5 0 0 1 0
Kendrick Norton DT 6'3, 315 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8860 12 14.5 2.1% 1.5 1.0 0 0 0 0
Chad Thomas DE 6'6, 265 Jr. 5 stars (6.1) 0.9877 12 12.5 1.8% 1.5 1.0 0 4 1 0
Anthony Moten DT 6'4, 317 Jr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9266 11 10.0 1.5% 2.0 1.5 0 0 0 0
Demetrius Jackson DE 6'3, 252 So. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8755 7 8.0 1.2% 2.5 0.5 0 0 0 0
RJ McIntosh DT 6'4, 280 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8544 5 3.0 0.4% 1.0 0.5 0 0 0 0
Scott Patchan DE 6'6, 240 So. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8752
Gerald Willis DT 6'4, 280 So. NR NR
Ryan Fines DT 6'2, 300 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8464
Joe Jackson DE 6'5, 245 Fr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9147
Pat Bethel DE 6'3, 260 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.9009








Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Jermaine Grace OLB 6'1, 205 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8970 13 61.5 8.9% 6.0 2.0 0 5 1 0
Juwon Young OLB 6'2, 248 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8535 11 46.5 6.7% 3.0 0.0 1 0 1 0
Raphael Kirby ILB 6 30.5 4.4% 1.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Tyriq McCord OLB 13 26.0 3.8% 7.5 3.5 0 1 1 0
Marques Gayot OLB
3 6.0 0.9% 2.5 1.5 0 0 0 0
Mike Smith ILB 6'1, 233 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8805 6 5.5 0.8% 0.0 0.0 0 0 1 0
Terry McCray OLB 6'3, 235 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8320 2 4.0 0.6% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Darrion Owens ILB 6'3, 243 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8832 2 3.0 0.4% 1.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
Gage Batten ILB 6'1, 235 Sr. NR NR 13 1.5 0.2% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Charles Perry OLB 6'1, 225 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8762 8 1.5 0.2% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Jamie Gordinier ILB 6'4, 235 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8544
Shaquille Quarterman ILB 6'1, 245 Fr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9466
Zach McCloud OLB 6'2, 220 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.9081
Michael Pinckney OLB 6'1, 215 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8690








7. Get to work, Kul

Craig Kuligowski spent the last 15 seasons as Gary Pinkel's defensive line coach at Missouri and made a name for himself for creating four-star production out of three-star talent. At Miami, he inherits a group that is simultaneously more well-touted and less proven than the unit he left behind at Mizzou.

Ends Al-Quadin Muhammad, Trent Harris, Chad Thomas, and Demetrius Jackson appear to have solid pass rushing potential, but while the pass rush could certainly stand to improve, it wasn't last year's biggest issue. Somehow, Diaz (both as DC and linebackers coach) and Kuligowski have to solve what were some serious run issues last year. [Update: Muhammad is under investigation by the school, but no suspension has been announced yet.]

The Miami defensive front has plenty of size, especially at tackle, where the top three returnees average 6'3, 317. But play-making was an issue, and a banged-up linebacking corps didn't help. Of the eight LBs to finish with at least three tackles last year, only two played in all 13 games. Youngsters like Mike Smith, Terry McCray, and Darrion Owens were barely able to get their feet wet, and now-senior Jermaine Grace was overworked. There might be potential here, but we didn't get to see much of it last year. [Update: Grace is also under investigation by the school, and like Muhammad, has not been disciplined as of August 17.]

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Deon Bush S 13 41.5 6.0% 3 1 1 6 0 0
Rayshawn Jenkins S 6'2, 208 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8525 13 41.0 6.0% 2.5 0 3 4 0 0
Corn Elder CB 5'10, 175 Sr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9185 13 36.0 5.2% 4 2 2 11 0 0
Jamal Carter S 6'1, 210 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9061 12 35.5 5.2% 0.5 0 1 2 1 0
Artie Burns CB 13 31.0 4.5% 0.5 0 6 5 0 0
Dallas Crawford S 13 30.0 4.4% 2 0 0 0 0 1
Tracy Howard CB 13 27.0 3.9% 0 0 0 4 0 0
Jaquan Johnson S 5'11, 190 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.9133 13 21.5 3.1% 0 0 1 0 1 0
Sheldrick Redwine CB 6'1, 195 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8563 11 10.5 1.5% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Michael Jackson CB 6'1, 195 So. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8643 13 4.0 0.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ryan Mayes CB 6'1, 200 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8412
James King S 6'1, 203 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8013
Terrance Henley CB 5'11, 175 So. NR 0.7883
Tyler Murphy CB 5'8, 175 So. NR NR
Robert Knowles S 6'1, 193 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8269
Romeo Finley S 6'1, 198 Fr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8931
Malek Young S 5'9, 182 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8690








8. Play-makers (and shaky depth) in the back

Miami has to replace four of its top seven defensive backs, which isn't optimal, but perhaps the two most important are back. Rayshawn Jenkins is a proven playmaker at safety, and Corn Elder is the kind of ballhawk Diaz knows how to use at corner. With Jamal Carter also back, that gives Miami three seasoned seniors. That is all sorts of valuable.

It would be preferable if these three didn't get hurt, though, because it's nothing but freshmen and sophomores behind them. There's plenty of athletic potential here, especially with corners Sheldrick Redwine and Michael Jackson, but a couple of injuries in the back could drastically affect Miami's defensive ceiling this year.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Justin Vogel 6'4, 210 Sr. 67 42.5 6 20 19 58.2%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Jon Semerene 64 61.0 26 5 40.6%
Michael Badgley 5'10, 175 Jr. 8 62.8 3 0 37.5%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Michael Badgley 5'10, 175 Jr. 40-40 17-20 85.0% 8-10 80.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Mark Walton KR 5'9, 195 So. 17 17.6 0
Corn Elder KR 5'10, 175 Sr. 5 33.8 1
Corn Elder PR 5'10, 175 Sr. 11 13.8 1
Braxton Berrios PR 5'9, 180 Jr. 11 4.2 0
Category Rk
Special Teams S&P+ 29
Field Goal Efficiency 30
Punt Return Success Rate 77
Kick Return Success Rate 118
Punt Success Rate 47
Kickoff Success Rate 42

9. 30 field goal attempts is too many

That Michael Badgley was so good in the place-kicking department was unquestionably a good thing. That he was asked to attempt 30 of them, sixth-most in the country, was a sign of an inability to finish drives. That 20 of them were inside of 40 yards almost made it worse. Miami's abominable run game came back to haunt them near the goal line. Badgley's good, but if he's asked to do less, that's probably a pretty good sign.

2016 Schedule & Projection Factors

2016 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. S&P+ Rk Proj. Margin Win Probability
3-Sep Florida A&M NR 56.8 100%
10-Sep Florida Atlantic 100 21.2 89%
17-Sep at Appalachian State 59 2.9 57%
1-Oct at Georgia Tech 54 2.1 55%
8-Oct Florida State 5 -6.1 36%
15-Oct North Carolina 27 2.2 55%
20-Oct at Virginia Tech 32 -2.8 44%
29-Oct at Notre Dame 11 -10.2 28%
5-Jan Pittsburgh 29 3.2 57%
12-Nov at Virginia 68 4.7 61%
19-Nov at N.C. State 40 -0.8 48%
26-Nov Duke 51 8.9 70%
Projected wins: 7.0
Five-Year F/+ Rk 12.7% (42)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 21 / 17
2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin* 11 / 1.7
2015 TO Luck/Game +3.6
Returning Production (Off. / Def.) 70% (78%, 62%)
2015 Second-order wins (difference) 7.8 (0.2)

10. The upside and lack of depth are obvious

Al Golden was a decent coach in a job that demands better than decent. He leaves Richt with some high-upside pieces and a pretty soft underbelly. If the injury bug isn't particularly cruel to the Hurricanes, there are plenty of potential wins on the schedule.

In fact, there's only one game on the slate that falls in the "likely loss" category (which I tend to be define as anything with a win probability under 33 percent): the trip to Notre Dame. Meanwhile, there are seven games between 36 and 57 percent.

  • If Miami falls a little bit below its No. 30 projection, the 'Canes might have to scuffle to reach bowl eligibility. But if the starters remain on the field, a top-25 performance and a nine- or 10-win season are on the table. Life in the ACC means quite a few tossup games; Richt is probably used to that.