augusta free press news

Manny Diaz faces tall order with latest Miami rebuild

Manny DiazMiami failed to live up to expectations in 2018, starting as a preseason Top 10 team, then fading to a 7-6 finish.

But then, Miami failing to live up to expectations, not exactly a new story there, right?

The most recent coach to flail out was Mark Richt, who at least had UM fans thinking, if only briefly, that he had things going in the right direction.

The 2017 ‘Canes, under Richt, started 10-0 and was ranked #2 in the country at one point, before losing their final three.

The strength of that team, and for that matter, the 2018 Miami team, was on the defensive side of the ball.

Miami ranked first in the ACC in total defense and second in scoring defense in 2018.

The new man in charge is the man responsible for putting that defense together, Manny Diaz.

The D returns six starters from that 2018 unit, and figures to be solid again in 2019, with the core of the defense – starting linebackers Michael Pinckney, Shaq Quarterman and Zach McCloud – being guys who have been starters since they were freshmen.

The elephant in the room: quarterback.

Diaz told reporters at last week’s ACC Kickoff that he feels the best recruit he signed in the offseason may have been a guy named Dan Enos.

Enos, the offensive coordinator, comes from a year on the staff at Alabama, where he served as quarterbacks coach under Nick Saban.

Enos was credited with helping make ‘Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa a Heisman candidate in his first year as a starter in 2018.

“The minute Dan walked on campus, I think all of our quarterbacks improved,” Diaz said. “I get the opportunity to sit in his meetings every day. Dan is outstanding with the way he mentors and tutors those guys. They have all improved. They all showed during spring practice they all can be the quarterback for the University of Miami Hurricanes.”

The problem is, none of the candidates for the starting QB job – sophomore N’Kosi Perry, redshirt freshman Jarren Wilson and Ohio State transfer Tate Martell – has grabbed the brass ring.

Diaz enters training camp still looking for who will be his QB1, which is the issue that derailed the 2018 ‘Canes.

“Two of the guys want to be the quarterback at Miami, one of the guys has to be the quarterback at Miami. I don’t know which guy that is here. I’m going to find out here in the next two or three weeks. Whatever guy that is, he’ll take the first snap against Florida at Orlando on the 24th,” Diaz said.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press