Miami is a historic program that has fallen upon some rocky times recently. At one point in 2017, the Hurricanes were ranked second in the nation and 11-0 but faltered, losing their last three games. At other times, they have not even sniffed the Top 25. However, in 2020, with Manny Diaz at the helm and a new quarterback, the Hurricanes are ranked seventh in the NCAA. D’Eriq King has seen his NFL Draft stock rise into relevancy, and that can continue this weekend.
With a key matchup against Clemson, Miami will have an opportunity to prove just how real they are, as will King. Despite having a strong showing thus far on the season, King still has doubters to prove wrong, and this is a great game for him to do just that.
D’Eriq King off to an impressive start in 2020
King is listed at a modest 5’11”, but there are reports that King maybe even shorter than that. The size limitations with him are obvious, and it is part of what makes people skeptical of King, even after a hot start to the season with the Hurricanes. However, there is no denying the traits that King is showing on the football field right now.
I don’t think I can be all that surprised that King is firing on all cylinders right now. At Houston, even with a lesser supporting cast, King put up numbers at will. He made a name for himself as a gunslinger with reckless abandonment. Maybe this is where some people get taken aback by King’s play style. He has the moxie and confidence in his arm to really let it fly. That is no different now in Miami.
King’s improvements in 2020 are exciting
Now, we know he can use his legs as well. King is no Lamar Jackson on the ground, but he is shifty and tough with his frame. King is by no means easy to take down, and while he can take off with the ball when necessary, he does a great job of keeping his eyes downfield and scanning for receivers. Make no mistake — King is a passer first.
We already knew he could feel rushers and slip out of the pocket if he needed to, so this was a welcome sight. Even in the pocket, I am rather impressed by King’s willingness to stand within the pocket, stay poised, and take a shot to get it off. He has the mentality of a pocket passer, which is one of the things he has shown most this year.
The area of growth that impressed me the most out of King has to be his accuracy. Before this season, King was erratic at best, but he is generally getting much more precise with his accuracy, especially up the seam. The ball placement part of his game continues to improve.
Teams can have a clear strategy with King. That would be to get him out of the pocket and let him do his thing. Rollouts, in particular, are helpful for King. With a leap in his mental processing and decision-making, King so far has been impressive. That said, he still has to improve in several areas.
NFL eyes will magnify King’s struggles
In addition to the obvious concern being King’s size, he also has a number of mechanical issues that have to be rectified. The most notable one is rushed footwork. When he sails passes, this is often why. Whether this can be attributed to feeling ghosts or not is something I would have to ask King himself, but he certainly has some issues with just setting his feet and firing the ball at times, even in a clean pocket.
In addition to that, King trusts his arm almost too much. His throws are almost all arm right now. When you are a quarterback and want to push the ball down the field and outside the numbers, you have to engage your core and really snap-through on your release. That is where the strength from your lower body comes from to give your balls some real gas. While he has a good arm, some of his throws can get lazy and almost be lobs. It makes his accuracy erratic as well.
Against Clemson on Saturday night, it is the accuracy outside the numbers where he really needs to show something. On top of everything he has already improved, that is a key area to work on.
I think King needs to be smart and show teams that he can be a playmaker. That is what he has been thus far when he does not overthink things.
King is not Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray, and while he will hear those comparisons, he needs to be himself and trust what D’Eriq King thinks. In the right headspace, King has an opportunity to have a strong performance and boost his stock against Clemson.