With their hot start in the ACC, the Miami Hurricanes find themselves at 3-1 overall, and 2-0 in-conference. While league both wins have come by single-digit margins, the team has also found itself a game-breaking player in running back Duke Johnson. Johnson, who is just a freshman, has already put up six scores for the ‘Canes, while also amassing the most all-purpose yards in the country. Teamed up with veteran back Mike James, Miami finds itself stacked with the type of 1-2 punch that wins a lot of games.
But can the Hurricanes with the ACC Coastal division for the first time since the ACC went to a two-division format in 2005? We polled members of the Atlantic Coast Convos staff to get a sense of what they thought…
Joel Penning (Clemson): Miami’s start has been a pleasant surprise, and the schedule sets up nicely. At this point, conventional wisdom would count Florida State as a certain loss, even though the game is in South Florida. But the ‘Canes get Virginia Tech at home on a Thursday, and the rest of their games look very winnable. Narrow wins over Boston College and Georgia Tech aren’t enough to anoint Miami the Coastal frontrunner just yet, though. This team still has major issues on defense, and its offense was stopped cold by the only quality D it faced. Duke Johnson leading Miami to its first division title — in a year when the NCAA’s hammer is looming over the program — would be a great story, but I still think Virginia Tech will take home the Coastal.
Hokie Mark (Virginia Tech): Going into the season I had Miami finishing 4-4 in conference, with losses to BC, GT, VT and FSU. Well, they’ve already won two of the games I thought they would lose! At this point I’m still thinking FSU will beat the Hurricanes, but what that means is this: when VT goes to Miami, they will be playing for the Coastal division (shades of 2005).
Glynn McGehee (Georgia Tech): They can, but no they won’t. Virginia Tech may have lost to Pitt, but they are still the best team in the Coastal and do not have an in-conference loss yet. Miami beat Georgia Tech this week, but having attended that game, and having seen other Miami games this year I still do not believe they are all that good. Georgia Tech beat themselves last week. There was a self inflicted safety, followed by 36 unanswered points, followed by a classic GT meltdown. Miami did not play exceptionally, they just played well. I will say that Stephen Morris looks like an impressive QB. He made smart decisions, avoided pressure, and led the offense well. Still, I fully expect Virginia Tech to beat Miami this year, and would be shocked if Miami fails to lose two or more ACC games this season.
John Cassillo (Syracuse): Admittedly, I was extremely harsh toward the ‘Canes in preseason, pegging them at a woeful 3-9 record; so this whole series of events comes as quite a surprise to me. That said, who’d have known the talent level Duke Johnson brought to the table? Take a look at the remainder of their schedule: two top-10 teams (Notre Dame and FSU) and another two games against teams hovering right outside the polls as we speak (VPI and NC State). The only gimme game is Duke, and even then, it’s obviously not the blowout it used to be either. With Miami’s offense capabilities, they’ll definitely hang with most teams. But against an elite offense (and they do face a few), it’s hard to see that depleted defense truly stopping anyone.
Obviously, no one from the Miami contingent chimed in on our end. But any ‘Canes fans willing to speak up? What do you think about your team’s chances to win the division, and how do they overcome all of those problems on defense? Share your thoughts below!