If you were too busy watching Patrick Mahomes and his infinitely better supporting cast duel Deshaun Watson last night instead of watching D’Eriq King’s Miami debut, I don’t blame you. (Bonus points if you’ve got that double-screen action going on, you’re a true pro).
King finished the night with 144 yards passing, 83 yards rushing, one touchdown apiece through the air and on the ground, and zero turnovers.
I spent a lot of time this summer watching King’s tape from Houston hoping to get a sense of how his dominance in the AAC would translate to the AAC. Obviously last night’s game was against a Conference USA foe, so it’s yet to be seen how he’ll fare against some of the tougher teams on the schedule. Having said that, UAB is no slouch. The Blazers return a lot of production from a defense that ranked 28th in SP+ last season.
My main concern with King is his ability to read progressions and make throws with a high degree of difficulty. He didn’t have to do much of that at Houston, nor last night.
He missed a couple of throws in the first half that should have been easy completions, but as the game went on he settled into a rhythm, aided by his All-American candidate at tight end, Brevin Jordan. Jordan finished with three catches, 51 yards and score Miami’s final touchdown.
King’s greatest impact at Miami will be his ability to improvise. It’s a trait the Hurricanes have essentially never had at quarterback. He didn’t waste any time showing off his wheels last night.
Pro Football Focus’ Mike Treash has some good numbers on King’s performance last night:
I agree with Treash. It was a solid, but not spectacular debut for King. There were clearly flashes of ability to turn negative plays into positive ones. He’ll have his fair share of explosive plays just with his legs alone. That’s alone is so huge for Miami.
The Canes’ tempo last night was noticeably faster. That’s a staple of new OC Rhett Lashlee’s offense, and King is tailor-made for it.
The big question will be how accurately King can deliver the ball against faster, more athletic defenses that can do a better job containing him than UAB did last night.
Given how little time he’s had to work with his new team, it was an encouraging debut. I’ll give him a B grade for the opener.