MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Miami is hoping quarterback D’Eriq King can lead a Hurricanes’ offensive revival.
The graduate transfer from Houston will make his Hurricanes debut against UAB (1-0) in Miami’s opener Thursday night after an offseason of doubt due to COVID-19.
“It’s a great feeling,” King said. “A couple of months ago, nobody really thought we’d be playing right now. And now to get the opportunity to go play a game on Thursday night — the only game on — it’s a great feeling.
“Playing for the University of Miami … it’s just an honor for me to go out there and play my first game.”
The Hurricanes are banking on King to help spark a rebound from a 6-7 season when the offense ranked 98th out of 130 teams nationally in yards per game. They were also the only team shut out in a bowl game.
The dual-threat King is reason enough for excitement in a program employing new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee’s spread offense.
King left Houston after four games last fall so he could take a redshirt year. He’s the only FBS quarterback to throw for at least one touchdown and run for at least one touchdown in 15 consecutive games.
UAB coach Bill Clark calls the 5-foot-11, 195-pound King “a running back-quarterback.”
“He is a guy who can really throw it, but also has running back speed and legs,” Clark said.
CONFERENCE USA AGAIN UAB has never beaten an ACC opponent and doesn’t have a victory over a Power Five opponent since topping Baylor in 2004. However, the Hurricanes did lose to Conference USA’s FIU 30-24 last season.
SPREADING IT OUT
Lashlee, a former Auburn offensive coordinator, came to Miami from SMU. Miami wide receiver Michael Harley said fans will be pleased with what they see from the offense.
“The only thing I can say is just watch the game and the offense will come alive,” Harley said.
UAB GROUND GAME
One challenge for the Hurricanes’ defense will be stopping UAB career rushing leader Spencer Brown. Brown enters the game with 3,122 career yards despite missing four games with an ankle injury in 2019.
Jermaine Brown Jr. joins him in the backfield.
“Both really talented guys,” Miami linebacker Zach McCloud said. “I know they play hard, especially if you just take the time to really watch them play.
“Those are two guys that will give you as much trouble as anybody else, if not more.”
Miami will rely heavily on other transfers besides King. That includes right tackle Jarrid Williams, placekicker Jose Borregales and defensive end Quincy Roche. Roche, a grad transfer from Temple, helps fill the void left by Gregory Rousseau, who opted out of the season to prepare for the 2021 draft.
Borregales was a huge pickup out of FIU considering the Hurricanes’ kicking woes of last season. That included eight missed field goals from 40 yards or closer.
The Hurricanes won’t allow students to attend their first two games at Hard Rock Stadium. Plans call for the crowds to be limited to 13,000 fans.
“That’s not a problem,” McCloud said. “I played high school football, too. That’s the least of my concerns.”