Friday, September 18, 2009

Miami thinks it's 1986

It was pretty clear when Miami knocked off Florida State last week that the Hurricanes' offense had taken one hell of a step forward from years past, but the defense ... eh, not so much. FSU didn't exactly struggle to move the ball, finishing with 34 points and nearly pulling off an epic game-winning drive.

And when you add in last year's 41-23 beatdown at the hands of Georgia Tech that saw the Yellow Jackets rack up a ridiculous 472 (!!!) rushing yards, it makes this line from Miami's 33-17 win Thursday night pretty shocking:

Ga. Tech
First Downs 12 21
Passing 4 13
Rushing 6 8
Penalty 2 0
Third Down Efficiency 6-14 8-13
Fourth Down Efficiency 0-2 0-0
Total Plays 54 64
Average Gain Per Play 4.2 7.1
Rushes 39 39
Average Per Rush 2.4 4.7

Yes, that's a 95 for Georgia Tech and a 184 for Miami, which should give you an indication of just how much better the Hurricanes' offensive and defensive lines are this year. The secondary was shaky against Florida State, but that might not be much of an issue against anyone other than Oklahoma. Look at Miami's competition in the ACC: North Carolina? Virginia Tech? Clemson? I don't see anything resembling an offensive juggernaut in that group.

Does that mean Miami is now the ACC favorite? Well ... I dunno. I still think Virginia Tech is a pretty good team, and playing in Blacksburg -- which Miami will have to do next week -- is never fun. But a win over the Hokies would all but guarantee the 'Canes a spot in the ACC title game, which is pretty freakin' remarkable when you consider that they were picked to finish fourth in their own division, will have faced an absolute gauntlet of a schedule to start the season and are being led by a sophomore QB in his first year as a full-time starter.

There's room to grow for this team, and that's a scary thought, because I'm not sure they need to get much better to be a national title contender again.

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