Really, Just How Good Is ... Miami?

Campus Insiders & CFN
Posted Oct 7, 2013

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How good is Miami?

There are 17 remaining unbeaten teams in the FBS, an increasingly select group that still includes Miami. The last time the ‘Canes started a season 5-0, Brock Berlin was taking snaps and Larry Coker was the head coach, but what does the early success mean in terms of today's landscape?

Miami is arguably the class of the Coastal Division, though surging Virginia Tech will get its say in the debate when it visits Sun Life Stadium on Nov. 9. However, by the ACC measuring stick, the Hurricanes are still the clear-cut third best team behind Clemson and Florida State. Standing third in an overall average conference is going to place a program somewhere in the teens of the Top 25, which is exactly where Miami belongs right now.

The Hurricanes are one of the 20 best teams in the country, but not one of the 10 best. That's hardly an indictment of the program or head coach Al Golden, who's done a terrific job of keeping his kids focused while the ominous clouds of an NCAA investigation hover over Coral Gables.

Miami boasts a top 10 backfield, spearheaded by next-level QB Stephen Morris and explosive RB Duke Johnson. Everywhere else, though, the ‘Canes remain somewhat of a work-in-progress. The defensive numbers, for instance, are misleading because the schedule has been noticeably light on potent offenses. Ranking No. 2 nationally in passing yards allowed, as an example, means nothing when a D has faced a steady flow of Florida Atlantic, South Florida, Savannah State and option-based Georgia Tech.

The ‘Canes have yet to really be tested this season - their only road game was in Tampa to play woeful South Florida - and when they were challenged by an overrated Florida team in Week 2, they generally got outplayed and shoved around. If not for the offensive tomfoolery of Jeff Driskel and the Gators, Miami never would have survived on a day that it managed just 10 first downs, 212 total yards and 1-of-11 on third downs. Great win, sure, but pouring over the film reveals a very fortunate squad that matched up poorly against the speed and the quickness of Will Muschamp's defense.

Heading in the right direction? No question about it. Poised to put the finishing touches on the bridge to the glory days? Not even close. Miami still has a long way to go, and Golden and the staff know it. The ‘Canes will get exposed for the first time as being somewhat overrated, especially on defense, by Florida State on Nov. 2. Their game of the year will actually be a week later when the Hokies visit to determine who gets a crack at either the ‘Noles or Clemson in Charlotte on Dec. 7.

Miami might be headed toward a 10-win season, which would send Golden's blueprint for success into overdrive. Still, all 10-win seasons are not alike. Unless the ‘Canes upset Florida State or win the ACC title, an overall soft schedule will prevent them from ascending into the top 10 at any point during the fall.