No one wants to say it, but I will. There couldn’t be a more perfect scenario for the Miami Hurricanes to win their sixth national championship as a program than this year.
Perhaps its a year (or two) too soon for Mark Richt and the Hurricanes, but you don’t necessarily control the things that make a championship run possible. And because of that, Miami has to capitalize in the best way possible this season and can’t afford to say ‘our best days are ahead’.
The way the stars have aligned for this 2017 season, it would take years for the exact scenario to play out the same way. Consider the following:
You won’t get Florida State on the road who comes into the season ranked in the top three and have them lose their star quarterback. You won’t get your toughest opponents to close out the season at home (No. 13 Virginia Tech, No. 3 Notre Dame). You won’t find No. 4 Clemson in an ACC title game with a first year starter at QB again coming off a National Championship. You likely won’t ever find a guy who can make you not miss your starting running back, if he went down (Travis Homer).
Your healthy quarterback Malik Rosier doesn’t know what it’s like to lose. Not sure he’s ever been asked but how often do you have a guy that doesn’t think about losing because he’s never lost? It’s rare. Every start he’s ever made, his team won. You have to ride this kid out and then Rosier should ride off to the draft.
Coming into this season, the optimism about Miami from those close to the program was that they would be very good on defense (they are) and would need to find ways on offense to put up points and not lose games. Redshirt junior quarterback Malik Rosier was relegated to “game management” status. That’s a distinction given to quarterbacks who you don’t know whether or not they can carry the load, so you just say ‘just don’t lose the game for us.’ Prior to his three interception effort against Virginia Tech, Rosier has been more than a game manager for the Canes. He’s been reliable with the football and made plays with his arm and legs.
And what about the reliance on Mark Walton coming into the year at the running back position. There were whispers of a “dark horse’ Heisman candidate with concern to the true junior. Since suffering an ankle injury necessitating surgery after Florida State and putting him on the sidelines for the remainder of the season. The hopes that Walton would guide this offense faded fast.
Enter Travis Homer.
All he’s done is come in and stabilize the running back position (612 yards rushing and six TDs) and before last game, he didn’t have a reliable backup. He’s been as steady as a rock in the process. True freshman DeeJay Dallas did look good running the ball against Virginia Tech but it’s too soon to say what impact he’ll have down the stretch through an ACC Title run. Nevertheless, running back isn’t a concern and Miami’s depth has struck gold yet again.
The depth at cornerback can’t be understated either. When Dee Delaney, an FCS All-American transferred in from the Citidel this off season, he was given ‘savior’ status. Miami needed rescuing at the position because of some poor recruiting classes at the position and transfers. After falling injured and missing the Georgia Tech and Syracuse games, he hasn’t been missed.
Hello Michael Jackson.
For a guy who has gone relatively anonymous in this first two seasons at Miami, this kid may actually be the best cover corner in the Coastal division. He’s been a special team stud for the first two years but for the former four star recruit, he’s finally coming into his own. Malek Young, who started at times last season, slid into Delaney’s spot without issue from the nickel position. Freshman Trajan Bandy has taken over for him and looked solid.
But these things just don’t happen. You don’t find a better player on the bench than the starter you had inked in. You don’t move Sheldrick Redwine from corner to safety (again to make up for poor recruiting from previous staff) and wind up with gold. You don’t get contributions from every one of your front seven and their back ups. Especially on the defensive line with Demetrius Jackson (now out for the year), Jonathan Garvin (true freshmen) Pat Bethel (first year of big production) et al.
This just doesn’t happen for college football teams. Unless of course, you’re on a special run. And that’s my case. Miami is just too good to be true and must embrace it.
To think, Rosier was asked to be a stop gap between this year and N’Kosi Perry. I haven’t heard fans mention Perry’s name since August. Perry who?
And let’s not forget the emergence at wide out of Darrell Langham and Braxton Berrios. The former is a kid who was over recruited and didn’t probably belong at Miami. He’s now proven he does with a walk off touchdown against Florida State on the road and a critical first down catch against Georgia Tech late in the game to win at home. He’s played in one game in his previous three seasons at Miami.
For his part, Berrios was always the guy who did and said everything right, but he never produced. He’s got 36 catches for 474 yards and seven touchdowns. That’s two more touchdowns than he had his previous three years. For a guy who came in as a four-star recruit, he has finally found his game. And it’s just in time for a championship run for the Hurricanes.
Did I mention the turnover chain? Miami is fourth in the nation in turnover margin with seven fumbles and 13 interceptions for a total of 20 turnovers. Seems like they’re bringing out the bling a million times a game and it’s a complete hit nation wide. Manny Diaz, a future head coach, had one of his best moments when he drummed this idea up. He’s not only in line for assistant of the year but his defense is playing the best it has since the glory days in Miami when his father was the mayor of the city.
Space and time prohibit me from talking about the depth at offensive line that has made up for injury including true freshmen Navaughn Donaldson and Corey Gaynor. And can’t forget about the true sophomore linebacking corps, the heart and soul of the Canes defense that saved (again) from poor recruiting as these kids all play ahead of their veteran backups.
This much right can’t happen without ending in a championship. You can’t waste this magic. The Canes have to capitalize and a national championship is the only way that is truly done.
The stars have aligned.