2011 Football Predictions: Miami

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Is this the year the Miami Hurricanes can break through in the ACC Coastal?

Is this the year the Miami Hurricanes can break through in the ACC Coastal?

For the 45th year in a row, Athlon Sports will release its in-depth preseason preview annual complete with coaching changes, behind the scenes features, scouting reports from within the locker room, pages of recruiting rankings, and most importantly, in-depth predictions and previews.

Each year, we order some pizza and lock ourselves in a room until all 120 teams have been hammered into place. And every year, there are some seriously heated discussions that result in not-so-cordial commentary.

The 2011 preseason top-25 countdown will begin with No. 25 on Monday May 2. But every day until then, we will offer the college football fan a peek behind the curtain at some of the most heated debates that we the editors at Athlon had to work through.

Check out all the debates linked below.

The Debate: Is this the year Miami breaks through in the ACC Coastal?

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
I don't think this is the year Miami breaks through, though the Canes should be pretty good. First of all, I believe Virginia Tech is a better team, so even if Miami plays well, it could have a tough time winning the division. Also, I need to see more consistent play from quarterback Jacory Harris before I'm ready to buy into this team. He has shown flashes of outstanding play, but he hasn't proven he can get it done on a consistent basis.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Considering Virginia Tech has to replace Tyrod Taylor, it's not a lock Miami is going to finish second in the ACC Coastal. The Hurricanes were the best team in the ACC last year in terms of yardage differential, but one of the worst in the turnover battle. There's certainly no shortage of talent, but the quarterback play has to be better if Miami wants to challenge Virginia Tech. The front seven on defense should be solid, but it's time for tackle Marcus Forston to live up to the hype and solidify the interior of the line. Cornerback is a huge concern, especially with Brandon Harris departing a year early to the NFL. I like the hire of Al Golden and think he will eventually win an ACC Championship at Miami. However, I think there are too many question marks to win the ACC Coastal this year, especially with the game against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and crossover divisional games at Florida State and Maryland.

Nathan Rush
The U will rise again this season. I think Al Golden will whip Randy Shannon’s collection of five-star talent into shape and bring the ACC Coastal crown to Coral Gables. The defense is a classic, swarming Canes unit led by big-hitting linebacker Sean Spence and safety Ray-Ray Armstrong. The offense is a sledgehammer featuring the three-headed running back attack of Lamar Miller, Mike James and Storm Johnson. But it is the man who once wanted to wear a pink suit and bring a pimp cup to the Heisman ceremony (in the unlikely event he was invited), quarterback Jacory Harris, who will be the key. The senior must eliminate his deep TD-or-INT boom-or-bust mentality and play the type of winning football he did earlier in his career. If so, Miami will be back, baby.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
I do not see Miami finally winning the Coastal Division in Al Golden’s first season. The Hurricanes have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, but they will need to avoid the turnovers that have plagued them the last couple of years. The defense should be solid with all-conference candidates Marcus Forston, Sean Spence and Ray-Ray Armstrong, but depth may be an issue — especially in the secondary. Miami also has to play at Virginia Tech and Florida State, probably the two best teams in the ACC. I’ll take the Hokies to repeat in the Coastal, especially since they avoid playing FSU, Maryland and NC State from the Atlantic Division.

Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
Nope, and there are many reasons. Miami, even though I have the utmost respect for Randy Shannon the man, is breaking in an entirely new staff after the previous regime underachieved. Quarterback play, along with the running game, has been inconsistent over the past few seasons. The road slate includes trips to Florida State, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Maryland and South Florida to go with home tests against Ohio State, Georgia Tech and Boston College. And the Hokies have the best offensive line in the league — and arguably the best coaching continuity in the nation. There is loads of talent for Al Golden to mold, especially where it counts — the offensvie and defensive lines. But until proven otherwise, The U is simply a great collection of untapped potential.

Debate: Does Notre Dame deserve to be a preseason top five team?
Debate: Can LSU win a national title with Jordan Jefferson under center? 

Debate: Who is the top challenger Oklahoma in the Big 12? 

Debate: What will Nebraska's conference record be in the Big Ten?

Debate: Will the Oregon Ducks repeat as Pac-12 Champions?

Debate: Who will win the SEC East in 2011?

Debate: Who is the top challenger to West Virginia in the Big East?

Debate: What is Ohio State's record after five games in 2011?

Debate: Who is the first-team All-Big 12 quarterback this year?

Debate: Who will finish second in the ACC Atlantic?

Debate: How far will Auburn fall in 2011?

Pre-order your team’s Athlon Sports cover here (athlonsports.com/store) and find out where Athlon has your team picked when the 2011 Top 25 countdown begins on Monday, May 2.

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