Book it Mann: Week 0 match-up – Miami vs Florida (-7)


August 24th college football is back as the Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators square off in Orlando. Dan Mullen and the Gators will be favored after a stellar 9-3 regular season last year. Florida opened as a 7.5 point favorite but since has been bet down to a 7 point favorite. Leading the Miami team will be first year head coach Manny Diaz, who will try to pick up his first career win as the underdog.


Fresh Start:

Last season, Miami finished the regular season 7-5 and followed it up with a bowl loss to Wisconsin. Miami was hampered by an inefficient offense that could not put the ball in the endzone. They only scored touchdowns on 23.7% of their drives (92nd in the country). This was attributed to poor quarterback play and coaching that was uninspired to improve. After 18 years as a head coach (3 at Miami) Mark Richt turns the program over to Manny Diaz.

Diaz was Miami’s defensive coordinator the last three seasons, coaching the Canes most effective side of the ball. In 2016 and 2017, Miami was one of the top 15 defenses in the country. This is according to Football Outsiders efficiency metrics. Last season, Diaz coached a top 10 defense. Diaz looks like he is putting the right pieces together to improve the offense by hiring Dan Enos. Enos was the offensive coordinator at Arkansas from 2015 to 2017. Arkansas saw a big drop in offensive production in 2018 when Enos left to be the quarterbacks coach at Alabama.

Can newly named starting QB Jarren Williams lead the Canes to an upset?

The offensive personnel that Dan Enos is working with at Miami will have the ability to be much better than last season. In the 2018 draft, Miami lost their top two receivers to the NFL. After week one against LSU, they lost their most proven returning receiver. This year they return three of their top pass catchers and bring in Tate Martell. Martell is a highly touted quarterback transfer from Ohio State. I thought Martell would win the job over N’kosi Perry who did not impress last season. Instead the Hurricanes will turn to Jarren Williams, a redshirt freshman. The offensive line loses 3 starters, but the recruiting has been strong for Miami at that position. By bringing in competition at quarterback and Enos as the coordinator, this offense could have some success in Week 0 vs a strong Florida defense.

Miami LB Shaq Quarterman leads a vaunted Hurricane Front 7

With a defensive minded head coach and six returning starters, the defensive unit will be strong again. Defensive Coordinator Blake Baker will look to superstar linebacker Shaq Quarterman and defensive end Jonathan Garvin to lead them in slowing down Florida’s offense. The lone question mark on the defense is in the secondary where they only return one starter. They did add former 4-star recruit Bubba Bolden as a transfer to play the free safety position. Bolden was a highly rated recruit who played with quarterback Tate Martell at powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School. We can assume Miami will be strong again against the run again after giving up only 3.6 yards per carry last year. The path to victory for Florida will be to attack this young but talented secondary.



Dan Mullen looks to build on his success in year two at Florida. Mullen brings back all three of his coordinators from last season. In addition to the coordinators returning, the defense returns 8 starters. On offense, 5 starters including quarterback Feleipe Franks return. Last year Mullen killed it against the spread, covering 8 of 12 regular season games. This included going 5-0 ATS vs non-conference foes and 3-1 against ranked opponents. The Gators had two impressive home wins against LSU and South Carolina. They also won on the road at Tennessee and on the road at Mississippi State. In these four wins Florida was +6 in turnover margin. This includes going +2 against LSU at home and +5 against Tennessee on the road.

Florida WR Trevon Grimes will have the edge on an inexperienced Miami secondary – (Photo: Bronte Wittpenn)

The brightest sign for the Florida offense is that they return quarterback Feleipe Franks and talented weapons at receiver. Trevon Grimes is a monster receiver at 6’5″ who can cause problems against the Canes. Grimes only had 365 yards last season, but can use his big frame to go up and snag a touchdown or two over Miami’s corners. The biggest concern for Florida will be their offensive line that needs to replace four starters. The Gators did a nice job last season rushing for 5.3 yards per carry, but will be facing a stout front 7 of Miami. This match-up could come down to how well the Florida offensive line holds up.

Florida DB CJ Henderson is a future pro

Florida was a top 30 unit last season in defensive efficiency and only gave up 0.315 points per play (26th). The secondary is elite, headlined by a likely first round pick in CJ Henderson. Meanwhile, the run defense could take a step forward but was only mediocre last season giving up 4.2 yards per carry. This should be a good test for Florida’s defense, as the Hurricanes should be improved offensively.


I am going to take a look at the underdog Miami Hurricanes (+7) in this spot. This is not one of my strongest opinions because it is extremely difficult to handicap a first year head coach. Also, Dan Mullen has been solid his entire career.

One reason for the pick is that Florida overachieved against LSU and Tennessee last season. They were two point underdogs to LSU but won outright 27-19. Florida out-gained the Tigers by 19 yards at home but won the turnover battle by two. Florida beat Tennessee as a 3 point favorite 47-21.  The score was lopsided but Florida forced five more turnovers than the Vols. Florida out-gained Tennessee by a measly 23 yards. Data supports that turnover margins usually even out over time due to random bounces. Another major reason for backing Miami is that Florida will need to get 4 new starters ready on the offensive line. Meanwhile Miami will force a mismatch with a fierce front 7.

Manny Diaz being familiar with the players alleviates some of my concerns of backing Miami. He will have his players fired up and ready to go. This should provide an edge for his defense that is on the fringe of being elite. A potential quarterback upgrade with Williams can help spark this upset.

I see this game going down to the wire and would favor Florida by only 5 points being the slightly more proven team. Give me the 7 points with a very small edge as we root for an outright win.