It’s a chance for the Miami Hurricanes to end their 2019 season on a high note and at the same time, snap out of a disturbing postseason funk. However, they’re going to play short-handed in the Independence Bowl Thursday afternoon against Louisiana Tech.
Miami, 6- 6, will play a Bulldogs team that is seeking its first 10-win season in program history and the Hurricanes have been awful a recent run of postseason games. The Canes, who were almost unbeatable in the 1980s and 90s, have now lost eight of their last nine bowl games.
This includes back-to-back losses to Wisconsin the last two years in the 2017 Orange Bowl and then a year ago, to the Badgers in New York City in the Pinstripe Bowl.
As we wrote earlier this week, coach Manny Diaz and offensive coordinator Dan Enos have been “playing it close to the vest” on who will quarterback in this game? But, it’s believed that Jarren Williams who has started most of the season including Miami’s final two games, will get the nod to the game the game.
Diaz/Enos may very well turn to N’Kosi Perry, who has started games this year and last year and replaced Williams in both of the last two games for a couple of series.
Louisiana Tech’s best player is quarterback Jamar Smith and he has battled injury late in this season but still has put up 2,800 yards passing with 17 TDS and 4 INTs. The Bulldogs also have RB Justin Henderson who nearly ran for 1,000 yards with 5.8 avg and 15 TDs against mostly C-USA competition.
More bad news for the Hurricanes, as they will play shorthanded with LB Michael Pinckney, DE’s Trevon Hill and Jonathan Garvin, plus receiver Jeff Thomas having already announced they’re skipping the game and preparing for NFL draft.
The game also has an interesting angle from the two head coaches, as Tech’s Skip Holtz once hired Diaz after Diaz was fired by the University of Texas. Diaz helped the Bulldogs win the 2015 Heart of Dallas Bowl, as LA Tech’s defensive coordinator.
Hurricanes QB Williams intends to transfer
The only constant for the last two seasons with the Miami Hurricanes quarterback position has been change and with the addition of Houston transfer D’Eriq King earlier this week, it apparently means more changes are on the way for the competition.
Sports Illustrated college football Insider Pat Forde reported Thursday afternoon that the Miami starter for most of the season, freshman Jarren Williams, has entered the NCAA transfer portal:
SI source: Miami QB Jarren Williams is putting his name in the transfer portal. With the arrival of D’Eriq King, his circumstance has obviously changed at The U.
— Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) January 23, 2020
Williams won the starting job for first-year coach Manny Diaz and now-fired former offensive coordinator Dan Enos, during fall practice what had an up-and-down season. He played in all 12 games with a 61% completion percentage and had a 19/7 TD to INT ratio.
However, more importantly the Hurricanes offense as a whole went down the tubes. This was especially in their final three games Williams was at the helm for the stunning loss to Florida International, where he threw three interceptions.
He and the Canes followed that with a road loss at awful Duke, where Williams tallied only 142 yards with a TD. And, worst yet, with rumors swirling everywhere that Enos was about to be fired, a game in Independence Bowl where the QB had just 92 yards and an INT Miami failed to score in a 14 – 0 defeat to Louisiana Tech.
King is the presumptive starter after having a successful two seasons at Houston. His best year was 2018 with nearly 2,900 yards in the air with 36 passing TDs and only 6 INTS.
However, he was benched by new coach Dana Holgorsen earlly this year and is a graduate transfer that is immediately eligible.
Miami also has the part-time starter from the last two years N’kosi Perry, as well as former Ohio State quarterback Tate Martell, who transferred and was immediately eligible this past season. However, Martell couldn’t beat Williams or Perry out for playing time, but he did play briefly at time at wide receiver.
Back to Williams, he still has three years of eligibility remaining but unless he gained some kind of waiver he would have to sit hey transfer year next season.
Not so fast on QB D’Eriq King coming to Hurricanes?
24 hours later it doesn’t look dead certain that Houston transfer quarterback D’Eriq King will end up at the University of Miami after all.
In fact, it may be several days before we know the coveted grad transfer QB decides to do.
This after a report Sunday out of Houston from Fox 26 Sports director Mark Berman ,who got comments from King about his short term plans and visits:
D’Eriq King (@DeriqKing_), who is transferring from @UHCougarFB, says he has yet to make a final decision on where he’s going: “I haven’t committed to anybody yet. I’m still looking at my options. I visited Miami. I liked it, but there are other options I’m still trying see to..” pic.twitter.com/E4kz2xypWR
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) January 19, 2020
It is interesting that King is considering Maryland in the mix in addition to powerhouse LSU and possibly trying to revitalize Miami.
As our Jamil King wrote on Sunday it looked like the Houston standout quarterback was “e-ticketed” for Coral Gables and to come as a package deal with newly hired offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. Lashlee, who has previously been at Auburn and the SMU offensive coordinator the last couple of seasons, was hired two weeks ago to help jump start the Canes disastrous offense from the second half of last year.
Quarterback play plagued the Canes in 2019 with Jarren Williams showing flashes of great play followed by freshman mistakes and inconsistency. N’kosi Perry found his way into some games, but was also inconsistent in his own right. Miami suffered humiliating losses to FIU and at Duke to close the regular season.
Then, the Hurricanes were completely inept in the Independence Bowl, while being shut out 14-0. This, while rumors were swirling everywhere that coach Manny Diaz would be firing his first year offensive coordinator, Dan Enos. Enos, who had been the QB coach at Alabama, was fired the next day.
Back to King, if the Hurricanes are able to land him, they get a player who over his career at the University of Houston threw for 4,925 yards for an average of 8.2 yards per attempt and tossed 50 touchdowns with only ten interceptions.
King also completed almost 62% of his passes with the Cougars, adding another 28 touchdowns on the ground. He promises to bring some explosives, something the Canes desperately needed, if they can land him.
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