With much debate about how this season is going, we threw up The U signal and got some of your favorite contributors together to share their thoughts on the season.
Q1: How do you feel about the season with the Canes sitting at 3-0?
Jerry Steinberg: Cautiously optimistic. The second half against FAU and the 1st half against Nebraska make me think this team could turn the corner. But the 4th Q against the Huskers was an unmitigated disaster. The jury is still out on this team.
Cam Underwood: I feel good, but not great. Look, we've had some REALLY GREAT halves of football. The 2nd half vs FAU and 1st half vs Nebraska were about the best we've seen Miami play since the FSU game last year, and maybe in the entirety of Al Golden's tenure as coach.
But, the OTHER halves, the 1st half vs FAU and 2nd half vs Nebraska, those give me great concern. Yes, this team is 3-0, but there are clearly issues to be worked out. So good, not great, is how I'm feeling.
Scott Salomon: I am pleased to see that we are undefeated at this stage of the season and that there have been no hiccups. I thought that they played up to their potential, for the most part, against B-C and FAU, as opposed to playing down to the level of the competition. They still have a long way to go, but I like the progress that I am seeing week to week.
Charlie Strauzer: Anxious, was feeling much better early Q4 of Saturday's game. The stupid mistakes in year 5 are unacceptable.
Craig T. Smith: Don't feel as good as I should. The meltdown/comeback took the wind out of my sails and shows this team doesn't have a killer instinct, like FSU last year.
Ricky Paolillo: You can’t argue with being undefeated. However, as seen in the first half against FAU and fourth quarter against Nebraska, there’s much to improve.
Q2: Who are your offensive and defensive MVPs of the early season?
Steinberg: Offense - Joe Yearby. I know Brad Kaaya is the obvious answer but I am astonished at how far Yearby has come as a blocker as well as receiver to match his alreadt impressive running skills. JY needs to see the ball more going forward.
Defense - Corn Elder. Elder has surpassed Artie Burns despite his 3 INTs and Tracy Howard despite his lofty high school accolades, as the team's best cover corner. I love how he hits as well. Corn is reminding me of a poor man's Revis. Maybe we need to coin the phase "Corn Island?"
Underwood: On offense, it has to be Joe Yearby for me. Brad Kaaya is a franchise QB and has seemed to take a giant step forward in his development, but Yearby has been in another galaxy this year. He's been a dynamic playmaker both in the run game and pass game, and it is easy to see how the nearly 20lbs of added muscle have helped him. Yearby has made so many "WOW" plays in only 3 games this year, and that's why he's my offensive MVP.
On defense, I'm going with Deon Bush. I know Corn Elder will probably get most of the votes, and Artie Burns has 3 INTs so far this year, but Bush's physicality and leadership from the Safety position can't be overstated. Bush has consistently made plays, and his physical hits have led to multiple incompletions. He's looking the part of the NFL draft pick we expected him to be coming out of HS, and he's showing his versatility by playing both Safety and Nickel.
Salomon: The offensive MVP has to be Joe Yearby. He has put the team on his back and has really shown that the added bulk that he put on in the off-season makes him a real warrior as he fights for every tough yard. I like the way Brad Kaaya is managing the offense, but I expect bigger numbers and more output from him and we will see that as the season progresses and he gels with his new receiving corps. On defense, there is a tie between Corn Elder, who makes big play after big play and Artie Burns who has three picks in three games.
Strauzer: Offense, Kaaya, Defense Elder
Smith: Joe Yearby, Corn Elder
Paolillo: Joe Yearby and Corn Elder. Both are making huge contributions and doing so consistently, making plays throughout the game. Corn Elder is playing like one of the better cornerbacks in the ACC. I couldn’t be more impressed with Yearby. He’s bigger, still has speed and quickness, and is dynamic both running and in the passing game. Hell, even his pass blocking has been great.
Q3: What gives you the most concern for the remainder of the season?
Steinberg: I still don't think the offensive line has hit its stride. Trevor Darling continues to have bad moments. Ditto Danny Isidora. If they fail to protect Kaaya better against Clemson/FSU both of the games could be disastrous.
Underwood: Gotta be the OLine for me. The blocking has been inconsistent at best, and the complete inability to have success on inside run or short yardage situations is shocking. We have a ton of talent on the OL, but it's just not coming together yet. I know the players along the OLine are (mostly) young, but there has to be improvement by this unit for the Canes to continue to have the success we've seen through the early part of the year.
Salomon: I am concerned most about the inability to stop the run. We gave up a lot of yards against FAU before their back went out with an injury and then Tommy Armstrong victimized our defense for a lot yards as did the kid Newby. This defense is not ready to face Dalvin Cook yet and they need another week to get their game together.
Strauzer: Our inability to put together 60 minutes with our foot on the gas
Smith: A lack of a pass rush against quality opponents, and ensuing flood of points.
Paolillo: Defensive performance against FAU and Nebraska. First three quarters against Nebraska: great. Fourth quarter: that will get you burned against stiffer competition. So what I’m looking for is more consistency. With injuries, last weekend’s penalties, and our shuffling of the secondary, consistent play may be hard to find.
Q4: What are you most confident of with this year's Canes?
Steinberg: Despite the answer above, I know this team can point points on the board. And that gives them a chance against anyone. Kaaya and Rashawn Scott have a good thing going. And Yearby and Mark Walton are both extraordinary backs.
Underwood: Brad Kaaya. I've read (as I'm sure you have) many tweets, and FB posts, and articles, and blogs talking about how Kaaya has taken the next step. He's so good it's ridiculous. He's easily the most talented QB we've had since....I don't know when. And, he has the focus, drive, and work ethic to turn that talent into production on the field. Miami will have the advantage at the QB position in every game we play because Brad Kaaya is the man. I'm just glad he's on my team, and not Boise State. ;-)
Salomon: I like how players are stepping up and making plays when we need them. The Nebraska game is a game that we would have lost in recent years, but the team hung tough and Corn made the big play in the end zone in overtime. I also think that Michael Badgley is having a Lou Groza type season and that he is proving to be a very valuable commodity and could compete with Roberto Aguayo to see who might hit the game winner in two weeks.
Strauzer: Kaaya's ability
Smith: The future. So much potential and talent, especially on offense.
Paolillo: The running game. Joe Yearby and Mark Walton’s success has taken away early fears that the offensive line could be troublesome.
Q5: How do you see the Canes' tough October stretch (@ Cincy, @ FSU, Clemson, VT, @ Duke) playing out?
Steinberg: I think they defeat that awful Cincy D (and who knows if Gunner Kiel will be ready) handily, lose to FSU in a close one, beat VT, upset Clemson, and then destroy Duke to go 4-1. Sadly as optimistic as that sounds, I would almost prefer the win over the Noles and losses to everyone else.
Underwood: 5 games in one month vs this kind of competition is a tough task for any team . For Miami, I think that we'll see some of the issues mentioned above bite them. And, we'll see some of the positives push them to success.
Prediction: 3-2. I don't know the wins, I don't know the losses, but I don't see us getting through this month unscathed. The talent is there to go 4-1, but I'll stick with 3-2 for this tough October run for the Canes.
Salomon: The only game that really scares me to some limited extent is Clemson as they are playing real well now on both sides of the ball. They are tough on defense and had five sacks in their last game against Louisville. They also have a running back in Gallman who can carry the mail between the tackles and fights for every yard. He scares me as our defense is very suspect against the run. I believe that the rest of the games are very winnable, although I would be happy if we went 3-2 down the stretch, but I suspect that we have an ability to go 4-1.
Strauzer: I think we go 3 and 2,Duke, VT and Cincy should be wins
Smith: 2-3. Wins over Cincy and Duke. Eggs laid in between. VT is winnable and maybe the swing game to get to 9 wins.
Paolillo: For myself, losing more than twice during this stretch is a disappointment. I feel confident against our Coastal Division adversaries. I’ll roll with 4-1.
So, those are the thoughts of some of your SOTU writers about the first 1/4th of the Canes' season.
Agree? Disagree? Want to call me stupid? Hop in the comments below and keep the conversation going.