The ACC Coastal typically has been Clemson’s punching bag in the conference championship game, but it seems like the division should produce a quality finalist this season. Starting quarterback D’Eriq King talked about that aspect of the program at this past week’s ACC Football Kickoff and said improved intangibles are what the Hurricanes need in order to take the next step.
“I think last year was a good step,” King said. “I think we took the right steps at the program to ultimately get back to where we wanted to go.
“This year we wanted to come back and focus on the little things. A lot of people, they see games, whatever. But they don’t understand everything that goes into it. They don’t understand what goes into a Tuesday team run. We have little hiccups right here, how we handle it.
“That was the main thing for us. All the leaders on the team, we wanted to focus on the little things, don’t let anything slide this year, come back with a goal in mind to win as many games as we can this year.”
Miami and North Carolina both return talented quarterbacks and overall rosters. 247Sports experts had both the ‘Canes and Tar Heels in their preseason top 15 coming out of spring practice.
It will not take long to find out whether Miami is legit this season — head coach Manny Diaz’s team opens against Alabama in Atlanta on Sept. 4. That is going to provide a huge test for the team, not only from a talent perspective but also from a leadership standpoint.
Miami could be favored in the rest of its games after the opener, aside from a trip to UNC on Oct. 16. Also on the schedule is a difficult inter-divisional ACC matchup against NC State, although that game is at home. The ‘Canes always get in-state rival Florida State out of the ACC Atlantic Division, and that game is on the road this year — although Miami still projects as the favorite at this early stage.
King is one of the top returning starting quarterbacks in the Power Five, and he is embracing the spotlight of leading a program with great history and big expectations.
“It’s a big responsibility being starter quarterback at the University of Miami, right? Just me trying to do everything right, trying to be the guy that my teammates can lean on, trying to be that leader,” King said. “It’s a huge responsibility, but I’m excited for it. I have a lot of good guys on my team I’m able to play with. I mean, that’s the main goal, to win as many games as possible here.”