Thanks to a 4-1 start and three wins in ACC play, Miami has some momentum entering its Week 6 matchup against Notre Dame. The Hurricanes were picked by many to finish fifth in the Coastal but are in position to make some noise in the division.
Is Miami a Legitimate ACC Title Contender?
Coach George Welsh, former head coach of Navy and Virginia and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
Miami's coach Al Golden has a horseshoe back there in his pocket somewhere. Those miracle catches at the end of the game have won two for him. They're liable to win the Coastal Division. The other contender in the Coastal, Virginia Tech, has been very disappointing. I don't think either of those two teams are very good this year, especially on defense. At this point in the season, unless Miami improves dramatically on the defensive side of the ball they will not be to win the ACC title against either FSU and Clemson.
Ryan Tice (@RyanTice), TheWolfpacker.com
How can Miami not be considered an ACC title contender? In my mind, they’re clearly the favorite in the Coastal Division, especially since Virginia Tech is having such a down year. The Hurricanes are the only squad with a 3-0 record against ACC competition, and quarterback Stephen Morris looks to be the real deal after throwing for 1,002 yards in the past two games. The squad is a young and inconsistent one, which explains how they’ve let Georgia Tech and NC State back in games despite big leads, but their offense is an explosive one that can score from anywhere at anytime. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and since the ACC’s top two teams reside in the Atlantic Division, if Miami takes care of business and gets to the Championship game, I’ll give that offense a chance. We’ll learn a lot this weekend about the Canes when they face Notre Dame — who looks to be back, as well — but as long as they keep winning league contests, there’s always a chance to hoist the trophy in Charlotte.
David Fox (@DavidFox615):
Miami is a solid team, exceeding all expectations this season, but Miami still has work to do to be an ACC contender. At the start of the season, I wondered where Miami would be without Duke Johnson, the Hurricanes’ playmaking freshman running back. In the last two weeks Mike James, Phillip Dorsett and, most of all, Stephen Morris have emerged on offense. Against Georgia Tech and NC State, Morris put up passing numbers Miami hasn’t seen since the days of Gino Torretta, Bernie Kosar and Craig Erickson. This is a fun offense to watch, for sure. But that defense, wow. Giving up 32 points to Boston College and 37 to NC State, that’s not good, never mind 52 to Kansas State. Take out the win over Bethune-Cookman, and Miami is allowing 530 yards per game. That’s not going to be good enough to win the ACC. With the exception of Florida State, Miami has the ability to beat any ACC team left on the schedule. That’s enough to win a division, but my guess is that the Hurricanes’ leaky defense catches up with them at some point.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
Let me ask you this: If Miami wins the Coastal but no one is there to see it, does it really happen? Miami football has been a roller-coaster of emotion this season, and while this team is clearly atop the standings after two huge wins over Georgia Tech and NC State, the tracks are about to hit a pretty nasty spiral. Notre Dame in Chicago, North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia Tech are the next four. If this team finishes 2-2 in that stretch, it would be a major victory for Al Golden. There are way too many questions for me to put this team in the championship mix, but that doesn't mean there is any excuse for the lack of support the pathetic fans in South Florida are showing this hard-working upstart.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
I’ve been impressed with Miami this season, but I still think this team has a lot of work to do before we can seriously call it a contender for the ACC crown. The Hurricanes have scored 38 or more points in four games this season but haven’t exactly faced the gauntlet of defenses in the ACC. Boston College, Georgia Tech and NC State are all struggling on defense, so Miami’s numbers are slightly inflated. However, the play of quarterback Stephen Morris and true freshman running back Duke Johnson is impressive and they will only get better with more snaps. The Hurricanes’ defense is filled with youth and inexperience, but this group should not be allowing 494.6 yards and 33.4 points per game. Al Golden is a good coach, but Miami is probably a year or two away from contending for the ACC. However, playing in a weak Coastal Division might allow the Hurricanes to make some noise, but the two best teams in the ACC rest in the Atlantic with Florida State and Clemson.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch):
The Hurricanes are clearly a contender to win the ACC Coastal Division — they are already 3–0 in the league and Virginia Tech has been a disappointment — but I’m reluctant to call them a true contender to win the ACC title because Florida State and Clemson, the top two teams in the Atlantic Division, would be considerable favorites over Al Golden’s club in a hypothetical ACC Championship Game. Give Miami credit; this team has shown tremendous resolve in recent weeks, but the defense is a major concern and the quarterback (Stephen Morris) is too inconsistent.
Miami could be a contender to win the Coastal division, especially given Virginia Tech's struggles on offense, but there's still a long ways to go and I need to see more from the Hurricanes, particularly on defense, before I am convinced. It's quite impressive that the Hurricanes are 4-1 as the calendar turns to October. However, they got destroyed 52-13 by Kansas State, the only ranked team they have played so far, and the collective record of the other three FBS teams they have defeated, which also happen to be ACC teams, is 6-8. Further, these teams — Boston College, Georgia Tech and NC State — are a combined 1-5 in the conference and are ranked 64th and lower in the nation in total defense. Miami has made most of its noise thus far on offense, ranking 35th in the nation in total offense (472.6 ypg) and scoring 35.6 points per game. However, the defense is giving up nearly 500 yards a game, which ranks them 114th out of 120 FBS teams, and surrendering nearly as many points (33.4 per game) as they are scoring. Given the competition they have played so far, Miami will be hard-pressed to continue to have success if they run into a defense that is capable of slowing the 'Canes offense down. To that end, Miami's next three opponents — Notre Dame (Chicago), North Carolina, Florida State — each rank among the top 16 nationally in total defense. Barring a complete collapse or late ruling by the NCAA, Miami should win enough games to make it back to a bowl this season, but this is not an ACC title contender.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
Al Golden and staff have done a solid job in getting the Hurricanes to a 4-1 record, but I do not see The “U” as a league title contender. Miami’s offense has been impressive with the marked improvement in quarterback Stephen Morris’ game, and running back Duke Johnson is one of the best freshmen in the country. However the Hurricanes defense ranks 114th in the nation and is giving up over 33 points per game, and that fact will keep them from competing for the ACC crown. Despite’s Virginia Tech’s “Big East” troubles this season, I still see the Hokies as the team to beat in the Coastal Division. Frank Beamer’s program has a way of turning early-season problems into solutions by conference play, and the Hokies-Hurricanes Thursday night clash on November 1 should be exciting to watch. Give credit to the Canes for a great start, but the next four games (vs. Notre Dame in Chicago, North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia Tech) will be very difficult for Golden’s crew.
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