The Manny Diaz era went from bad to worse Saturday. The Miami Hurricanes, already .500 overall and winless in the Atlantic Coast Conference, had a tailor-made opportunity to get back on track, hosting the Virginia Tech Hokies at Hard Rock Stadium as a significant favorite coming off a bye week.
It didn’t go according to plan. Miami eventually lost a 42-35 thriller, but only because the Hurricanes quickly dug a 28-0 with a turnover-plagued first half. The defense could never manage stops when it needed to and the offense never exactly put the defense in favorable positions in the first half.
Desperate times call for desperate measures in Coral Gables, so questions are now abundant in South Florida. David Wilson and Susan Miller Degnan, the Miami Herald’s Hurricanes beat writer, try to answer some of the most pressing ones on the latest episode of the Eye on the U podcast.
Question No. 1: What does Diaz mean when he says he’s going to become more involved in the defense? And what does it mean for defensive coordinator Blake Baker? No one’s seat seems hotter right now than Baker, who has had a rocky first year at Miami (2-3, 0-2) since he arrived from the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in January.
Question No. 2: Who should play quarterback Friday when the Hurricanes host the No. 20 Virginia Cavaliers in Miami Gardens? Diaz and offensive coordinator Dan Enos have said they’d ideally like to stick with one quarterback, but N’Kosi Perry outplayed Jarren Williams after he took over for the fellow quarterback and nearly led a spectacular comeback against a division rival. Now Williams is dealing with a shoulder injury, too, and Miami might be staring down another season of quarterback roulette after the same uncertainty at the position plagued the Hurricanes throughout 2018.
The biggest question of all, though: Where does Miami’s confidence level sit for Diaz? The coach touted his vision for the Hurricanes as “The New Miami,” but 2019 has looked similar to 2018 and maybe even worse.