The 2019 College football season kicks off tonight with one of the most anticipated games on the season, certainly within the state. Florida and Miami will be facing off in Orlando for the first time in six years.
Here are three things we’re looking forward to watching:
The redshirt freshman was named starting QB earlier this month, beating out former Ohio State Buckeye and former 5 star recruit Tate Martell and last years end of season starter, N’Kosi Perry.
Williams saw action in one game with the Canes last season, completing 1 of 3 passes for 17 yards, and running twice for 2 yards and a touchdown in a win over Savannah State. With such little college experience, no one really knows what to expect from him tonight, but we do know he’s has been praised for having the best arm of the group and used that to win this job.
Williams has got some great targets on offense that includes veteran running back DeeJay Dallas, wide receiver Jeff Thomas and Buffalo transfer K.J. Osborn. What will be key is if Miami and produce some solid protection at the line with a group of less experienced OLs.
Gators living up to high preseason expectations
Dan Mullen lead the Gators to one the most improved seasons in all of college football last season, more than doubling the amount of wins for Florida from 2017 to 2018. The pressure is even higher for the second year coach, after fans have gotten a taste of what it’s like to be back in the elite status.
Earlier this week, the Gators were ranked number 8 on the AP preseason poll, which is the first time Florida has ranked in the top 10 since the 2013 season. They are one of six SEC teams, four of which are also in the Top 10, and the only Power 5 school in the state of Florida in the preseason poll.
With the best set of offensive players they’ve had in nearly a decade, Gators QB Feliepe Franks has a wide range of solid targets including running back Lamical Perine and wide receivers Van Jefferson, Freddie Swain, Trevon Grimes and Joshua Hammond.
However, Franks has had an interesting run as the Gator’s signal caller. Last season was much improved form his first, throwing for 2,284 yards and 23 touchdowns last season, with six interceptions. However, his pass completion rate was just 58.5 percent, which is much lower than most QB’s at Top 10 schools.
How much improvement Franks will show tonight could be an indicator of how much of a force Florida will be this season.
New offensive lines on both sides
Tonight will be a debut of mostly new offensive lineman, which could have their hands full against two really strong defenses. Florida lost four OL starters from last season and will be debuting four first-time starters up front, including tackles Stone Forsythe and Jean Delance.
There will also be some new faces on the Cane’s offense with Freshman tackle Zion Nelson and RS Freshman John Campbell making their first career starts on the line.
How well these lineman can protect each team’s quarterback against two solid defenses could likely be the determining factor in the sunshine state rivalry this evening.
Also important to note, is the history between the two coaches, as Manny Diaz was Mullen’s defensive coordinator — not once, but twice. The two have had a repeated crossing of paths throughout their coaching careers, and tonight Diaz gets to match wits with Mullen.
Manny not only has the advantage of knowing how Mullen thinks; he has been able to see how Mullen has evolved. We wrote previously that this game will be like an intimate chess match between the two coaches.
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.
Hurricanes land Houston QB transfer King
Miami Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz found out very quickly that the life if a head coach isn’t an easy one. He saw his Miami Hurricane offense move nothing like a “Hurricane” at all.
Instead of fast and lethal, it was often slow and stagnant.
Thus, Diaz had to go in a different direction for his offense replacing his first-year offensive coordinator Dan Enos, and he made what looks to be like a strong hire in Rhett Lashlee, bringing his spread offense over from SMU.
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.\
With New OC Lashlee coming in, it was going to be interesting if either Williams or Perry could run the new system or if seldom used 2019 transfer Tate Martell may be the best fit?
All of those questions may be answered for us already with news coming out today on a new Miami quarterback entering the fold. Houston transfer D’Eriq King has decided to play for the Canes in 2020.
— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) January 19, 2020
King is an immediate upgrade in the QB room for a few different reasons for the Hurricanes in 2020. First, over his career at the University of Houston (above), King has thrown 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. The young man can flat out play ball, something the Canes desperately needed.
King is also going to be a leader in the locker room and the quarterback room. He is an older guy and will be someone everyone can look up to and listen to another coach on the field. King also brings the most to this offense.
He has the ability to make deep throws to the far side or hit a man in stride. He also brings the running ability to the offense that opens up a Pandora’s box for Lashlee. He can use the QB designed run, an option here and there, and lots of RPOs.
The addition of King is certainly an exciting one, and once again, for the second offseason in a row, there is new optimism on the offense in Coral Gables.
The question is this time will the excitement last longer into the season, and will it produce?
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