The University of Miami’s Hurricanes welcome an alum and former Florida State coordinator back to Coral Gables to lead the program in 2016. Mark Richt replaces Al Golden, who went 32-25 during his tenure in South Florida, including five consecutive losses to Florida State. The 56-year-old Richt won 145 games over 15 years at Georgia before being fired in late November of 2015.
The 2015 edition of the ‘Noles-’Canes rivalry in Tallahassee saw Dalvin Cook’s 269 total yards and three touchdowns lead Florida State past Miami. The Seminoles jumped out to an early lead only to fall behind in the fourth quarter. FSU’s number four found the endzone with 6:44 remaining, and the FSU defense was able to hold on after a failed two-point conversion attempt. The Seminole defense held Miami’s Joe Yearby to just 33 yards on 15 carries, though Brady Kaaya found success to the tune of 29-49 through the air for 405 yards and three touchdowns.
Coach Richt is fortunate to have Kaaya returning to lead what projects to be a very good passing offense in 2016. His offensive coordinator is 30-year-old Thomas Brown, Richt’s former running backs coach at Georgia. It was reported that Brown will shape and install the system, though Richt will call plays. And while the ‘Canes will return a very talented backfield, the first task in implementing Brown and Richt’s pro-style system will be to improve significantly on a dreadful 2015 rush offense that finished 116th in the nation.
Miami was able to make a nice defensive coordinator hire in Manny Diaz, though the roster he inherits in Coral Gables may not be immediately suited to his aggressive nature. The ‘Canes were a ghastly 118th in the country against the run in 2015, and most players from that front-seven return in 2016. The Hurricanes must replace the majority of their secondary from a unit that finished 38th against the pass last season. And while the beginning of the schedule is friendly, Miami will face an absolute gauntlet from October 1 to November 5, including a match-up with your Seminoles on October 8.
SB Nation’s Bill Connelly has released his must-read 2016 Miami preview. Read every word. These excerpts are only intended to whet your appetite.
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.
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.