Typically in the spring all of the attention is given to your program, mainly focusing on players competing to be atop the depth chart, those who've improved or look to get back to 100% health, and providing a small glimpse into early enrolees adaptation to the college game. Inquiry into other programs in the conference tend to be low on the priority list at this point of the year.
That said, we're a couple weeks out from spring practices getting underway. With early morning mat drills being the lone highlight regarding the current version of UM football, now's a good time to take a brief look around the conference landscape, beginning to measure ourselves against fellow ACC members. After taking a glance around the conference the initial impression you can come away with it that Miami’s defense could have it pretty good this upcoming season.
The Hurricanes are among a group of programs in Atlantic Coast Conference who will have an open QB competition to begin spring, with quite a few other teams in the ACC needing to address replacing an incumbent at quarterback in the coming weeks and months.
ACC QBs Gone to the NFL
Brad Kaaya (Miami)
Deshaun Watson (Clem)
Mitchell Trubisky (UNC)
Nathan Peterman (Pitt)
Jerod Evans (VT)
DeShone Kizer (ND)*
*Notre Dame is not officially part of the ACC in a football capacity, but since they're on the schedule this upcoming season, they were included.
QB DeShaun Watson had a game of a lifetime to defeat Alabama, securing the national championship for Clemson last season, its first since 1981 when they beat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. Watson could be among a group of ACC QBs to warrant a first round selection in the NFL Draft come April.
The Tigers are not on the schedule this season for UM, yet, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame all are. They all share something in common aside from handing Miami a loss a season ago, they each will start a different QB than a season ago. In fact, of Miami's five remaining games in 2017 (UNC, VT, ND, UVA, Pitt), four will assuredly have a fresh face under center.
The losses in the ACC are not limited to the QB, as couple 'face of the program' players have also moved on to greener pastures. One of them rushed for a stat line that read like this: 464 rushing yards, 124 receiving yards, 4 rushing touchdowns, and 1 receiving touchdown. That stat line belongs RB Dalvin Cook against Miami over 3 games, who will be a headache for teams on Sundays instead of Saturdays this fall. Also bidding adieu to college football is inspirational tailback RB James Conner, a cancer survivor, who has 3 TDs against Miami over the course of his four-year career.
Other Notable ACC Losses
RB Matt Dayes NC State
RB Marshon Williams VT
TE Bucky Hodges VT
WR Isaiah Ford VT
RB Elijah Hood UNC
WR Bug Howard UNC
WR Ryan Switzer UNC
LB Devonte’ Fields Lou
S Josh Harvey-Clemons Lou
RB Wayne Gallman Clem
WR Artavis Scott Clem
TE Jordan Leggett Clem
WR Mike Williams Clem
"Cool story. What does this have to do with The U?", you're saying to yourself . The impact on the 'Canes is that Miami's front-seven (that returns all seven starters upfront) that tallied 12 sacks last season against those same final five opponents on the 2017 schedule mentioned earlier (UNC, VT, ND, UVA, Pitt), we should see the ‘Canes pin their ears back, teeing off on fresh meat under center.
Fortunately enough for those final five teams, they have enough time to get their bearings together before stepping toe-to-toe with Miami. The UM defense has plenty of buzz around it heading into the season. So it’s hard to imagine that given the attrition from other programs in the conference that Miami wouldn’t have a favourable advantage with the defense on the field, even with questions in secondary at this very moment.
However, UM will need to fill voids on their roster as well. The most glaring of which at QB, followed by replenishing the depth behind Mark Walton at running back, and shoring up a secondary that lost a pair of safeties and top cornerback from last year.
Looking at the team as a whole, it is loaded with talent, always has been. Some seasons have been better than others, but this program has playmakers littered throughout the roster that now has guidance and coaching to get the best out of those guys while their in the program instead of seeing players blossom at the NFL level, or after transferring elsewhere.
The optimism around the program feels a tad different than recent springs of memory. Whether it's the Men's and Women's basketball teams being seeded in March Madness, or seeing Miami sit atop 247 Sports composite rankings for 2018, with plenty of time to build on what is already a stellar class. At this moment goodwill is not just limited to football, instead Miami’s athletic department has a great culture trending early at this point in time.