The Alabama Crimson Tide are coming off of a historic 2020 season that resulted in an SEC title, a national championship, a Heisman trophy and a handful of other achievements. They will be looking to repeat their title as the best college football team, but the path to the championship No. 19 starts with a contest against the Miami Hurricanes.
The once-great program that played in your face football and was well-respected across the country is now looking for relevancy and another title.
With the game only days away, here’s five things Crimson Tide fans need to know about Alabama’s Week 1-rival, Miami.
5. D’Eriq needs to succeed
The former Houston quarterback is about to enter his second season with Miami and his final year of eligibility. His NIL deals are well-known, but he is also known for his constant growth and improvement.
King is going to show fans across the country and NFL scouts why he should be allowed to play at the next level. He also must show he hasn’t been slowed down from the devastating knee injury he suffered in the final game of the 2020 season. It’s also worth noting the 24-year-old quarterback is older than three of four quarterbacks in the AFC East (Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones, Zach Wilson).
4. Manny Diaz
Manny Diaz is the Miami Hurricanes’ head coach. This is his third season. In his two seasons, Diaz has a 14-10 record, but has yet to bring the team to new heights within the ACC. Clemson has consistently been behind the Hurricanes, as has UNC.
A win would be a huge victory for Diaz to start year No. 3. However, a close loss to the national champions would be a significant boost for the young coach.
Diaz will also be assuming the role of defensive coordinator in the 2021 season.
3. The Miami secondary
The Miami Hurricanes’ secondary returns, in full, for the 2021 season. They didn’t lose any players during the offseason and added a major transfer in Tyrique Stevenson, a former Georgia cornerback.
Despite their experience, Miami’s secondary is still not living up to their expectations. Their season would be set by a strong start to Week 1 against Alabama and Bryce Young.
Players to watch out for are Stevenson, cornerback Te’Cory Couch and star safety Bubba Bolden.
2. Rhett Lashlee
If the name sounds familiar to Alabama fans, it is because Lashlee was the Auburn offensive coordinator before he faced the Crimson Tide. He now assumes the same role in Miami.
From 2013-2016, Lashlee led the Auburn offense, which resulted in only one Iron Bowl win (2013).
He will seek revenge against his old rival from Tuscaloosa. Lashlee would be the one on this Miami team that could crack Nick Saban’s code.
1. Their best-promised finish in decades
According to 247Sports, which did a deep dive into ESPN’s FPI for the Miami Hurricanes, ‘The U’ is only expected to lose one game and finish with a final record on 11-1.
What is the one game they are expected to lose? That would be against Alabama.
This team is hungry and has all of the tools necessary to be a legitimate threat to the ACC.